You Call That Perpetual? Issues in Perpetual Access


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Including perpetual access in an electronic resource agreement is only the beginning. Many issues stand in the way of seamless ongoing access and challenge traditional definitions of “perpetual.” Librarians and vendors often fail to properly track the content to which an institution is entitled after a subscription has lapsed. New eBook editions complicate access to previous editions. Multimedia resources may rely on quickly outdated software, so that they become unusable even if the content still has value.
The presenter will discuss these challenges facing perpetual access to electronic journals, books, and multimedia resources, as well as strategies for working through them. This talk challenges the notion that there is a simple dichotomy between leased and owned materials.

Presented initially at Charleston 2012, expanded and presented at MSU LEETS 2013.

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  • Ensuring perpetual access is an elusive goal, with several opportunities for failure.License agreements can be too vague to enforce, or a library might agree to terms they find unfavorable later.Even once the rights are secured, a library must track exactly what content they are entitled to.When a cancellation or other change to access occurs, it must be identified, and the library must react.What’s more, every type of resource presents unique challenges.
  • When majority of materials were collected in print, or other physical formats, libraries had to worry about receiving, cataloging, shelving, binding, and repairs. They owned the containers (journals, books etc.), so they had perpetual access if they could keep them.Vendor responsibility ended with delivery.
  • Now, libraries frequently lease access to content.Concerns are licensing, activating access, tracking in back end, cataloging and listing in A-Z lists, verifying access.Libraries may not own anything, and vendors are hosting the content.Much different role for content providers, as well as for libraries.New tasks and costs on both sides.
  • Journals receive most of the PA focus, but the truth is that many of the same problems affect other types of resources.Books (esp. ref works) are commonly subscriptions, or provide access only until a new edition comes outMany video and music products aren’t updated, and have either subscription or purchase optionsInteractive resources are similar but face unique challenges of their own
  • Carr found that most ARL libraries considered perpetual access essential or very important (31 of 47). Sometimes a deal breaker.Despite that, many libraries had cancelled in favor of aggregator access, or they had ceased participation in archiving initiatives (or were considering it)Stemper & Barribeau did a survey of their licenses (U of Minnesota, Minneapolis and U of Wisconsin, Madison) and found about two thirds included some form of PA. More commercial publishersWaller & Bird found that participants in consortial package were not adjusting holdings for titles that left or entered the package about half the time. So, the perpetual access rights were secured, but libraries were not making them readily available to users.
  • I conducted an online survey (advertised by email and link from Charleston SlideShare) of Electronic Resource managers regarding PA at their libraries. Received 108 responses, mostly from research libraries, but also representing other types of academics.
  • Electronic resource license agreements are often hopelessly vague regarding PA. Often, there is just a statement that perpetual access is or isn’t available without any further details
  • Survey question: If your vendor ceased to provide PA, which option would you prefer?Standard agreements may give perpetual access (continuing to provide the same service) or may make archival arrangements (offering local copies)Libraries should consider whether a DVD with the content is better than nothingLOCKSS and Portico may be post-subscription access options if library and vendor are both participants
  • Some licenses specify that there will be a cost for perpetual access, and that it will be determined when the agreement comes to an end.This may be difficult for libraries to swallow, and some procurement departments may not allow a blank amount in an agreement.Other agreements define the PA fee as a percentage of the subscription or purchase price.Large platforms often waive a fee if the library subscribes
  • License agreements for eBook purchases (particularly reference books, or frequently updated titles) need to define what happens when a new edition is published:You keep access to the edition you purchasedYou get moved to the new edition with no additional cost (unlikely)You lose access, and you would have to buy the new edition if you want to keep any content (possible discounts)In some cases, authors are allowed to make the decision, so you don’t know in advance what will happenInformation is not always included in standard agreements
  • For videos, audio, and interactive resources, what would happen if the file format and associated playback technology becomes unavailable or unpopular?For example, if Flash were no longer supported by major browsers, what would happen to purchased flash-based resources?Would the provider migrate these resources to a new format? Would they allow the library to migrate?
  • A fair amount of uncertainty, especially beyond journals.
  • Other mostly consisted of link resolver knowledgebaseMultiple answers allowed
  • ILS is probably most helpful for retrospective data gathering, just to see what you subscribed to and when.Electronic resource administrator website can be extremely helpful.Taylor and Francis, IngentaConnect, and Cambridge Journals are good examples. They provide reports of current and perpetual entitlements.However, you can not always count on this, as some platforms don’t provide any kind of title list.
  • Subscription agents can offer years of subscriptions, as well as the terms of perpetual access.However, the information displayed will generally be from current generic license agreement.If you’ve negotiated a different license, or if you’re working from an old agreement, your terms can vary.You may also have to make sure you combine online with print+online orders.
  • Trigger events are any event that may bring about a change to your access for a particular resource.In general, you should address these by reviewing your PA entitlement information, and checking to see that the holdings you communicate to users, and your actual access are both correct.After a journal cancellation, holdings information will need to be adjusted to reflect limits of access.When a journal is transferred, you will need to determine whether PA will be provided by transferring or receiving publisher, possibly adjust links.Platform migrations may result in erroneous changes to PAWhen a new book edition comes out, you may need to adjust holdings and verify access, depending on publisher policy
  • If you have purchased PA eBooks that may be updated, find out how updates are communicated. They may come automatically to admins, there may be a separate email list, or you may need to set up an alert from user interface.While cancellations should be obvious (as long as communication within your library is good), other trigger events may be more elusive.Journal transfers usually become apparent around renewal times, but lag in transfer can cause complications.Transfer notification list and database can be helpful for catching these changesVendors do not always notify administrators directly when there’s a platform migration, so look to listservs for this information as well
  • Problems will be ongoing, so attention must be too.This will continue to be an issue after we’ve all retired, so clear documentation is a must.
  • You Call That Perpetual? Issues in Perpetual Access

    1. 1. You Call that Perpetual? Issues in Perpetual Access Chris Bulock Electronic Resources Librarian
    2. 2. Print World Library Ownership
    3. 3. Electronic World Leasing Access Shifting Responsibility
    4. 4. Blending Formats • Journals • Books • Video and music resources • Interactive resources
    5. 5. Current State Carr (2011): libraries want it, but may undermine the goal. Stemper & Barribeau (2006): Publishers are providing it. Waller & Bird (2006): Libraries don’t do a great job of tracking entitlements.
    6. 6. Libraries that have acquired resources with perpetual access provision
    7. 7. Licensing Perpetual Access Yes No
    8. 8. Hosting your own Online vs. Physical Alternative providers (LOCKSS, Portico)
    9. 9. Costs To Be Determined Defined as a Percentage
    10. 10. eBook Editions How long is Perpetual? Keep purchased edition Move to new edition Lose all access
    11. 11. Interactive and other Media Long term viability of format Image by Groink from
    12. 12. Tracking Does your library systematically track perpetual access?
    13. 13. Pieces to Track Whether perpetual access is available Hosting details, costs Journals: what dates are included Books: terms regarding edition Multimedia: format and potential concerns
    14. 14. Systems Used to Track
    15. 15. Tracking with an ERMS License module or Resource level Dedicated fields and open ended notes Vendor, database, title Parent-Child relationships
    16. 16. Knowledge Bases Journals: 2 sets of dates Books: editions
    17. 17. Information Sources ILS: subscription years, book editions Admin sites: titles and years of access Image from Taylor and Francis admin site
    18. 18. Information Sources Subscription agents: terms and years of access Image from EBSCONET
    19. 19. Trigger Events  Cancellations  Journal transfer  Platform migration  New book edition
    20. 20. Identifying Triggers Book Alerts Transfer Notification List Listservs
    21. 21. Keep it Up Perpetual access: Perpetual effort Documentation Image by User:S Sepp from
    22. 22. References • Bulock, C. (2013). Tracking Perpetual Access. • Carr, P. (2011). The Commitment to Securing Perpetual Journal Access. LRTS, 55(1), 4–17. doi: 10.5860/lrts.55n1.4 • Stemper, J., & Barribeau, S. (2003). Perpetual Access to Electronic Journals: A Survey of One Academic Research Library’s Licenses. LRTS, 50(2), 91–110. doi: 10.5860/lrts.50n2.91 • Waller, A., & Bird, G. (2006). “We Own It.”: Dealing with “Perpetual Access” in Big Deals. The Serials Librarian, 50(1-2), 179–196. doi:10.1300/J123v50n01_17