AS Reports on Committee and Interest Group Activity

Acquisitions Section Reports on Committee and Interest Group Activity

All Acquisitions Section (AS) committees met Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 1 p.m.

Acquisitions Organization and Management Committee

Reported by Jeanne Harrell

  • Focused on program for Annual Conference (handouts, evaluation forms, and responsibilities of the committee members)
    Program title: “Staff Retooling: Adapting to Change in Technical Services”
    Date: Sunday, June 30, 2013
    Time: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Began discussion of possible topics for virtual preconferences.

Policy and Planning Committee

Reported by Marcia Thomas

  • Discussed the Schedule of Acquisitions Section Committee Review and PPC’s forthcoming tasks. The next scheduled review is of the Acquisitions Managers and Vendors Interest Group.

The post-election timeline is:

  • March or April: PPC committee sends current IG chair a letter of introduction with information about the review process.
  • Early May: send current IG chair a copy of the questionnaire with instructions to return by early June.
  • Annual Conference: PPC members review the questionnaire response and documentation.
  • The committee completed its review of the Acquisitions Organization and Management Committee and recommended that the AS Executive Board approve its ongoing status and charge.
  • Stephen Smith, ALCTS Planning Committee liaison to the Acquisitions Section and member of PPC, reviewed the ALCTS strategic plan and the ALCTS Planning Committee’s work on mapping the work of ALCTS’s committees and interest groups to that plan.
  • Review of Acquisitions Section Committee Structure

AS Chair Jim Dooley and members of the AS Executive Board joined PPC members in a discussion of the charge from AS Executive to review the committee structure of AS. In a report to AS Executive prior to Midwinter, PPC members expressed their concern about not having enough information to make specific recommendations and raised questions about the intent of the review and expectations for the work of PPC. Dooley clarified that the review was not mandated by ALCTS and there are no pre-defined outcomes. Other discussion focused on the differences between committees and interest groups, in particular the ability of interest groups to form and disband easily, respond more quickly to trends, and engage membership on specific issues of current interest. Following the discussion, Dooley asked if PPC would be willing to continue its review of AS committee structure, with an extended deadline of Annual Conference in June. PPC members unanimously agreed to do so.

Research and Statistics Committee

Reported by Jill Emory

The Research and Statistics Committee has been active since our 2012 quarterly report on finding speakers for our program at ALA Annual Conference. The speakers will be Ellen Safley, director of libraries, University of Texas at Dallas, and Adam Wathen, collection development manager, Johnson County Library. The committee decided on the format and hashed out some details regarding the program. We will work with contacts to co-promote the program with PLA’s collection management group and Andrea Langhurst agreed to help with promotion of the event a month out from the program. We will ask that data samples and the presentation slides be posted to ALA Connect a month after the program. If the program is successful, we’ll see if it can be turned into a webinar for later in 2013. On the advice of Jim Dooley, the title of the program has changed to: “E-book Data Evaluation through the Eyes of an Academic Librarian and a Public Librarian: A Tale of Two Libraries.”

Technology Committee

Reported by Janet Hulm

The committee met virtually prior to Midwinter on January 15, 2013, and confirmed intent to proceed with a program for the Annual 2013 conference. We went over the proposal and discussed the flow of the program. Committee members agreed that the program should be focused on project management experiences to ensure the audience has something concrete to take away. At the time we conducted our virtual meeting, we had only two of three speaker slots confirmed. We decided that we wanted to pursue finding a speaker from the public library realm and made plans to do so. We also discussed potential sponsorship.

The three committee members attending Midwinter held a short informal meeting prior to the program chair's meeting with the Program Committee. The Program Committee's response was favorable with only minor grammatical changes. We were given a deadline of February 1 to identify the third speaker and we were able to do that.

Our program is scheduled for Friday, June 28 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. We will begin with an introduction of project management concepts and how they can be applied in technical services to increase effectiveness. Additional presenters will discuss criteria for selecting projects appropriate for project management tools, as well as how these tools and techniques have been successfully used. We have confirmed all our speakers and they are: Robin Buser from Columbus State Community College, Boaz Nadav-Manes and Adam Smith from Cornell University, and Diane Marshbank Murphy from Chicago Public Library.

Interest Group

Acquisitions Managers and Vendors Interest Group

A panel of publishers and librarians discussed “Digital Content Pricing Models and Library Budgets: The Ongoing Saga”

The panelists included:

  • Robert Boissy, account development, Springer
  • Nancy Gibbs, head, acquisitions department, Duke University
  • Anne McKee, program officer for resource sharing, Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA)
  • Stephen Hansen, assistant director, North American Sales and Licensing, American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications (substitute for Brandon Nordin)

Nancy Gibbs from Duke spoke about collaboration with the TRLN consortium in buying large packages. She explained that because her institution is heavily funded by endowments the impact of the recession was delayed and she expects that they will lag a few years behind any economic recoveries. Over the past few years, she needed to prove to her administration that the large digital content bundles were worth the price, so she produces a large spreadsheet for thirteen different products with the cost per use. They have to cancel current subscriptions if they buy something new. She said that they are faced with needing to buy a growing number of international databases.

Steve Hansen from ACS admitted that there is tension between the ACS mission to curate the best science from around the world, where the numbers of published output are steadily increasing, with the state of library budgets. Their evolving business model is tier-based. He sees the process as evolutionary rather than revolutionary. He thinks there is some hope in looking at more sustainable processes like an open access model, increased token or metered access and patron-driven access to journal articles. He explained that current open access models create a substantial departure from traditional pricing models by shifting the responsibility for payment from the consumers (libraries) to the producer (authors). One primary benefit of the model being that it provides the scholar with a greater understanding of the cost of academic journals. He pointed out that with other newer pricing models, such as tokens or short-term loans, the library is still the source of funding, but payment is based on use. This produces a much stronger relationship between user activity and actual price paid.

Bob Boissy from Springer said that, for Springer, print is a secondary service option. Focusing on the electronic format has allowed them to be more creative with structuring content and developing pricing models. They are starting all new journals on an open access (OA) basis rather than paid subscriptions. He sees this as the way forward and Springer will be working with universities to get funding for OA publishing. They run an author workshop where they teach young scholars how to publish as open access. He mentioned the inherent difficulties in striking a balance between the revenue-focused corporate world and the not-for-profit based library environment. He recommended that both sides remain flexible and open to new pricing models and delivery options that are mutually beneficial. He urged libraries to negotiate for what they want and can afford.

Anne McKee from GWLA also urged librarians to learn how to negotiate and to always ask for what they need! She negotiates for thirty-three institutions, many of whom have been hit hard by the economy. She has negotiated very successfully on their behalf and the libraries together have achieved a very high “cost avoidance” (versus cost savings). Close scrutiny is being given to all expenditures with decisions frequently being made by teams and committees. Many sacred cows have gone by the wayside and no title or package is considered sacrosanct. Often usage is the deciding factor for renewals, and at times faculty request are being refused if the potential usage levels will not support the purchase. GWLA now trials everything for ninety days before they purchase. She urges publishers and vendors to try creative models such as pay per view, rentals, tiered pricing by volume, and letting libraries pay over time. She also encouraged the use of the SERU agreement rather than proprietary licenses. She noted to publishers that increases of any kind are closely watched and tracked, as are publications changing hands and other changes. She also said that librarians remember publishers who have been good to them during this economic crisis!

There were many questions from the audience which panelists discussed. One question e-mailed ahead of time questioned whether the dwindling society memberships were being subsidized by increased subscription costs to libraries. Steve from ACS said that this was not the case at ACS and that revenue was going back into publications. Many librarians agreed that they should be able to buy individual titles on publisher platforms and tailor packages to their own needs. Someone asked about solutions for rising costs associated with increased content and stressed that library budgets were not expanding at the same rate as price increases and purchasing power was being eroded.

After the presentations, it was announced that the IG meeting at Annual Conference in Chicago would feature an update and discussion of the current state of acquisitions modules of next generation library platforms, including some beginning user feedback.

The co-chairs also asked for volunteers who were interested in participating or chairing the group going forward, especially volunteers from the vendor community.

The AMVIG co-chairs for 2012–2013 are:

  • Amira Aaron, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources, Northeastern University
  • J. Michael Thompson, Head of Acquisitions, University of Houston