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Loughborough Presentation (In Progress)


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Draft of 1st hour talk to EIM students 27th April 2009

Draft of 1st hour talk to EIM students 27th April 2009

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  • 1. The Evolving Agent Sarah Durrant Secretary General Association of Subscription Agents & Intermediaries (ASA)
  • 2. Welcome
    • A bit about me
    • A bit about the ASA
    • Talk
      • The basics: what do subscription agents do?
      • The evolving agent: new tools and services for the information supply chain
    • Q&A
  • 3. Logistics
    • Coffee/tea break at 3pm
    • Feel free to participate…
    • Ask questions
      • at any stage
      • on any topic or issue
  • 4. About me…
    • Secretary General of Association of Subscription Agents & Intermediaries (ASA)
    • Part-time role, started July 2008
    • Red Sage Consulting
    • 20 years in information industry (Academic Press, Wiley, CatchWord/Ingenta, INASP)
    • Publishing background so learning all the time…
    • Recently adopted retired racing greyhound
  • 5. About the ASA…
    • Founded in 1934 (not by me…)
    • International trade association serving subscription agents and intermediaries
    • 40+ members covering over 90% of the world's scholarly/professional subscription business
    • Upholds standards of excellence, integrity and service innovation in the information supply chain
    • Promotes best practice in the purchase, supply and access of serials
  • 6. About the ASA…
    • Seeks to enhance relations between publishers and libraries e.g. early pricing, gracing of e-journals, claims reduction, anti-fraud
    • Innovates/cooperates on industry standards e.g. ISSN, COUNTER/SUSHI, EDI, ONIX etc.
    • Lobbying e.g. no/reduced VAT on e-journals
  • 7. Before we take off…
    • A snapshot of the services provided by subscription agents
    • Not a detailed examination of specific services from any particular agent…
    • Not all services are available from all agents
    • Agency services are evolving all the time
  • 8. The Basics: What do subscription agents do?
  • 9. In broad brush terms…
    • Publishers create and disseminate scholarly research information
    • Libraries subscribe/purchase access to that information
    • Agents work between the two to:
      • enhance the efficiency of the information supply chain
      • save their customers (libraries and publishers) time and money
  • 10. It can be murder in the library…
    • Limited library staff, time, budget and resources
    • 100’s if not 1000’s of publishers
    • 1000’s of journals
    • Archives and back issues
    • Plus, the need to keep on top of:
      • shelf-ready printed journals
      • publisher web platforms
      • registrations & access
      • usernames and passwords
      • publisher licences
      • claims
  • 11.
    • Potentially 100’s of publishers interacting with the library, e ach with:
      • different renewal and payment terms
      • currencies
      • claiming terms
      • different access procedures
      • different licences
      • time-consuming and expensive for libraries and publishers
    Without an agent… Image courtesy of Paul Williams, Swets Library
  • 12. With an agent…
    • Agents are specialists at facilitating one-to-many relationships
    • Leaves library staff free to concentrate on core needs of library and users
    Agent Library Image courtesy of Paul Williams, Swets
  • 13. Finding a niche …
    • Historically, agents had a very clearly defined role:
    • consolidate the library’s print orders
    • place those orders and manage payments…
    • … to multiple publishers in multiple currencies
    • deliver print copies to the library
    • chase claims on behalf of the library
  • 14. Finding a niche …
    • Services valued by publishers and libraries alike
    • Clear benefits to the supply chain
    • However, in the last 10-15 years, technology has bought major change to the scholarly information environment:
      • creation
      • dissemination
      • ‘ consumption’
  • 15. An illustration from Darwin…
    • Pale Peppered moth ( Biston betularia typica )
    • Dark Peppered moth ( Biston betularia carbonaria )
    • Environment favoured pale moths
    • Industrial revolution…soot
    • Environment favours dark moth
    • Improved environmental standards
    • Environment favours pale moth again
  • 16. ‘ Fittest’ in Darwinian terms does not mean strongest, it means the most apt or well-suited to the (new) environment.
  • 17. Interesting. Didn’t we just say that scholarly information has undergone its own ‘industrial revolution’?
  • 18. Over 85% HSS journals and over 95% STM journals now online*... *Cox J & L: Scholarly Publishing Practice (Third Survey 2008) , ALPSP 2008 … the scholarly information environment has become increasingly complex.
  • 19. Increasing complexity (i)
    • Access vs. ownership
    • Complex pricing models
    • Publishers dealing direct with libraries
    • Evolution of consortia
    • Publisher licences
    • Agreements open to negotiation e.g. pricing and terms
    • Big deals, collections & packages, backfiles, databases, eBooks, individual articles
    • Issues over perpetual access rights
  • 20. Increasing complexity (ii)
    • Technology-based service provision (e.g. InterScience , Science Direct , IngentaConnect , High Wire Press etc. )
    • Continuous evolution of media for delivery/access ( e.g. microfiche > disc > CDs > laptops> PDAs > mobile phones > eBook readers etc.) [oh, and print]
    • Alternative models of scholarly communication
      • open access/institutional repositories
      • informal exchange/peer networks
      • other web-based content e.g. blogs
  • 21. Range and complexity of pricing models… Cox J & L: Scholarly Publishing Practice (Third Survey 2008) , ALPSP 2008
  • 22.
    • In a changing environment, species must either…
    • … adapt
    • … or perish
    Another lesson from Darwin
  • 23. Would agents adapt or go the way of the Dodo?
  • 24. How have agents responded?
    • By creating new tools and services librarians need
    • By providing tangible support to libraries on industry-wide issues
    • By continuing to play a leading role in standards
  • 25. New tools and services for libraries…
  • 26. Helping libraries stay informed
    • Electronic information much more dynamic than print
    • Web-based agency services keep libraries informed:
      • publication schedules
      • web platforms
      • changes to URLs
      • username/password management
      • titles included in particular collections
      • licensing terms
      • etc.
  • 27. Subscription administration tools
    • Comprehensive search of library holdings
    • View subscription status (active, due for renewal, inactive)
    • 3-year financial history of each subscription
    • Rapid ordering/renewal/cancellation
    • Invoice consolidation
    • Fast, efficient registration and activation of purchased resources
    • Full claims history including outstanding claims
  • 28. Support with licences
    • Web-based services from agents provide:
    • details of each publisher’s standard license clauses
    • status of each license – signed, not signed, under discussion
    • overview of all licences, viewable by title or by publisher
    • associated ordering and access information
  • 29. Reporting tools
    • Librarians can tailor reports to answer key
    • questions e.g. :
    • What do we currently subscribe to?
    • Which issues are unavailable to patrons and need to be claimed?
    • Which print subscriptions have cancellation restrictions (due to e-deals)?
    • What’s the pricing history of this title/collection/publisher?
    • What new publications are available in my subject area?
    • How do our current holdings compare against e-options?
  • 30. Technical Expertise
    • Registration tracking
    • Licence tracking
    • Package renewal tools
    • Link resolvers
    • EDI transactions
    • Aggregated collections
    • Shelf-ready print journals
    • simplifies e-content registration
    • easy access to current licence terms
    • efficient renewal of large collections
    • appropriate copy
    • fast, error-free transfer of orders, claims etc.
    • Economies of scale
    • Save time and money
  • 31. Consortia services
    • Online tools for:
      • assessment of offers
      • order placement and subscription activation
      • ensuring e-package deals are accurately invoiced and charged
      • administration including tracking membership, invoicing, who has paid what etc.
      • efficient renewals
  • 32. Collection development tools
    • Cancel or renew subscriptions – singly on in bulk
    • Upgrade to include e-version or move to e-only
    • Integrate usage statistics with subscription details and pricing information
      • allows cost-per-use analysis
      • helps library establish value for money of a title or collection
      • informs renewal decisions
  • 33. Decision support
    • Reports for:
    • searches, sessions and turnaways
    • (multi-year) price comparisons
    • price-per-use data
    • vendor- and/or collection specific queries
    • Supporting:
    • collection development decisions
    • migration from print to electronic
    • analysis of cost per budgetary code
  • 34. You want more…?
  • 35. Wider industry support for libraries…
  • 36. EDI
    • Electronic Data Interchange
    • Allows the exchange of commercial information between computers…
    • … irrespective of processing system
    • Uses standard formats agreed between trading partners
    • In our industry, facilitates payments, claims and other information between publishers, agents and libraries
  • 37. Why is this important?
    • EDI has revolutionised the information supply chain:
      • millions of transactions efficiently processed
      • radically reduces delivery times
      • replaces paper with electronic documents
      • reduces errors
      • automates multiple repetitive tasks
      • saves staff time and cost – throughout supply chain
  • 38. Early pricing information
    • Publishers ‘review’ their pricing annually
    • More pages, more content, access to backfiles etc. (but sometimes for no marketable reason)
    • Commercial publishers often more bullish than not-for-profit and society publishers
    • Prices increases are sometimes in line with inflation but 5-10% not uncommon
    • Agents lobby publishers to issue pricing information in a timely way
  • 39. Why is this important?
    • Timely pricing information enables libraries to:
      • allocate budget and plan spending
      • engage with faculty and other users about new resources
      • assess value for money of offers and, if needbe, negotiate
    • Ensures continued access to valued resources
  • 40. Gracing of e-journals
    • Publishers allowing continued access to subscribed content into the new subscription year
    • Print and electronic
    • Typically to Jan/Feb., sometimes beyond
    • Often whilst licence agreements/negotiations are finalised
    • Or whilst consortia/libraries finalise purchase decisions
    • Agents actively talking to publishers to help them universally understand the value of gracing
  • 41. Why is gracing important?
    • Enables libraries to provide continued service for valued resources to users
    • Gives librarians time to assess value for money of offers…
    • … and, if needbe, negotiate
    • Makes allowance for discussion and delay in the purchasing process
    • Helps publishers by keeping their journals in use and their customers happy
  • 42. Claims reduction
    • Claims are made by libraries when scheduled journal issues are:
      • delayed
      • go missing
      • cannot be accessed online
    • Claimed issues can be print or electronic
    • The claiming process is time-consuming, repetitive and very tedious…
    • ..and is different for each publisher
  • 43. Claims reduction
    • Agents provide web-based services populated with publishers’ publication schedules which:
      • automatically update library when issues are published
      • alert library to issues which are overdue
      • enable library to log claims with each publisher in an appropriate way
      • save librarians time, money…and sanity
  • 44. VAT on E-Journals
    • Printed books, magazines and journals are zero-rated for VAT in the UK
    • However HM Customs & Excise classify electronic journals as a service…
    • … making them liable to (at present) 15% VAT
    • Publishers have held out by making e-versions "free" with print subscriptions
    • But increasingly the e-journal is the main product
    • Many journals are born digital with no print counterpart
  • 45. Why is VAT important?
    • It adds 15% to journal prices in the UK
    • Not in the interests of:
      • Research: scholarly information is expensive enough
      • Libraries: higher prices, claim-back procedure can be tortuous
      • Publishers: additional administration, higher prices
    • Agents are actively lobbying the European Commission through The Frankfurt group (of which ASA is a member) to demand that e-resources be zero- or low-rated for VAT
  • 46. Standards
  • 47. Standards
    • Athens/Shibboleth
    • EDI
    • ONIX
    • ONIX-PL
    • ISSN
    • etc.
  • 48. Further reading
    • I have provided a handout/support document
    • Web addresses for full information about each of these standards
    • Available on Blackboard
  • 49. Summary
    • Agents:
    • Are committed to enhancing the efficiency of the information supply chain
    • Are experts in one-to-many relationships facilitating millions of transactions between libraries and publishers
    • Provide sophisticated services designed to facilitate library workflow
    • Support libraries (and publishers) through wider industry involvement and lobbying
      • Enable librarians to focus on core activities/more important issues
      • Confer major savings in staff time and cost etc.
  • 50. Remember, without agents…
  • 51. … it would be murder in the library
  • 52. Thank you for your attention. Questions, comments…