Facing our E-Demons: Challenges of E-Serial Management in a Large Academic Library


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As electronic serials have shifted from being the exception to the norm, libraries are becoming increasingly reliant on knowledge base driven systems to help manage their electronic resource holdings. In 2011, after over a decade of managing e-serials within a local database, the University of Toronto Libraries migrated its electronic serial holdings to a fully integrated commercial e-resource management system. Now, with two years of experience under our belts, we endeavored to take stock and analyze how our library is coping with e-serial management within this new environment. How accurate are our e-journal holding statements within the ERM? How effective are we at managing e-serial title changes? How well are we tracking journal purchases that fall outside of the big package deals? Throughout this study, we have encountered many of the benefits and pitfalls of managing electronic journals within a knowledge base-driven system. While using a commercial ERM and companion MARC record service has allowed the library to present better data to users and expose previously hidden collections, there are several new challenges that we must contend with in a knowledge base environment. A common issue hindering access to our e-journals is the supply of incorrect, outdated or incomplete metadata within the data supply chain. These metadata problems have a detrimental effect on libraries, and consequently on our users, as it affects the accuracy of our e-journal holdings within our e-resource inventories. Although the study began as an internal investigation of our e-serials management practices and workflows, the results highlight the need for greater standardization within the data supply chain, better communication with publishers and knowledge base providers, and increased collaboration to improve the e-resource management process.

Marlene van Ballegooie
Metadata Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries
Juliya Borie
Cataloguing Librarian, University of Toronto Libraries

Published in: Education, Technology
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Facing our E-Demons: Challenges of E-Serial Management in a Large Academic Library

  1. 1. Facing Our E-Demons: Challenges of E-Serial Management in a Large Academic Library Marlene van Ballegooie & Juliya Borie University of Toronto Libraries NASIG 2014
  2. 2. Important Steps in Facing Your E-Demons • Take stock. We can’t begin to improve our ERM practices without first taking stock of what’s plaguing us. • Give credit where credit is due. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the problems. What are we doing right? Celebrate our victories. • Look ahead. Look to the future and think of all the things we can do to make e-resource management better.
  3. 3. UTL Context • University of Toronto - Canada’s largest university o 67,128 undergraduate students o 15,884 graduate students • Decentralized library system with 44 libraries o ARL ranked #3 • Let’s look at the numbers: o 7.6 million bibliographic records (over 11 million items) o Over 1.5 million e-resources (approx. 227,000 serials) o 1,379 content packages, 385 providers • Managed e-resources in a home-grown system until 2011. Became unsustainable. • Migrated to Serials Solutions product suite
  4. 4. Taking Stock
  5. 5. Setting the Stage • Substantial investment in e-journals: – At UofT in 2012/13: – e-serials - 73% of the serials budget – 28 million dollar acquisition budget – 12 million spent on e-serials – In many ARL libraries, e-serials account for two-thirds of overall materials budgets Does this investment in e-journals have an impact on institutional research performance?
  6. 6. Do e-journals make a difference? • E-journal expenditure correlates with use. • Use of e-journals does not simply support research success but also drives it. Research Information Network, E-journals: their use, value and impact: final report (London: RIN, January 2011, p. 29)
  7. 7. After the purchase… “Massive investments in subscriptions to an increasingly complex array of electronic content products requires at least some additional overhead expense to provide simpler means of access and to ensure adequate levels of use.” (Marshall Breeding, Automation Marketplace 2013). • ERMs are an essential component in e-resource management – Improves discoverability for users – Streamlines maintenance for libraries – Mechanism for inventory control
  8. 8. ERMs and the Data Supply Chain • Main players in the e-resource data supply chain – Publishers – Knowledge base vendors – Subscription agents – Libraries • More interdependencies than ever… all based on METADATA
  9. 9. • Joint project between UKSG and NISO • Aim: Develop a recommended practice to ensure the timely transfer of accurate data to knowledge bases, ERMs etc. • Phase 1- Completed in 2010 – Main focus was on metadata for serials • Phase 2 - Completed 2014 – Build on Phase 1 recommendations – Focus on e-book, Open Access and consortia metadata Knowledge Bases and Related Tools
  10. 10. • UKSG initiative • Aim: to improve journal transfers from one publisher to another • 48 publishers, including Elsevier, Springer and Wiley-Blackwell • Enhanced Transfer Alerting Service database • Currently in Version 3.0 TRANSFER Code of Practice
  11. 11. • NISO recommended practice • Addresses issues in e-journal presentation practices on provider web-sites -Titles for different formats -Former titles -Citations -ISSN irregularities Presentation and Identification of E-Journals
  12. 12. The Study • Comparison of title lists from content providers to data in Serials Solutions KB • Serials analyzed: 12,121 • Content providers considered: 20 • Limitations – could not check all holding dates due to variable date formatting
  13. 13. Package Deals
  14. 14. Title Changes and Ceased Titles • Previous titles are not mentioned in many title lists, despite us having access. • Much research was required to put the puzzle together of all the title changes. • Ceased titles not listed in many instances.
  15. 15. Title Transfers • Title transfers are generally dropped from KB, even though they often still supply access • 80% of electronic resource librarians have spent significant time adjusting their serial management systems due to journal transfers • Perpetual access status can be unclear, especially in titles that are part of “Big Deals”
  16. 16. ISSN Irregularities • Some ISSN & URL discrepancies hampered the matching process • Some confusion over print and online ISSNs. • In some cases, where there was no print ISSN listed in the publisher title list, Serials Solutions substituted the Online ISSN.
  17. 17. Titles missing previously… • Titles “found” in the process: 1,048 • Backfiles are most vulnerable as title list rarely capture all relevant title changes. • Titles transferred to another publisher • Short runs of previous titles are most often the ones that are missing
  18. 18. Single Title Purchases
  19. 19. Results - Single Titles • Titles analyzed: 550 • Titles that were “found” in the process: 52 (10%) • Serials Solutions has comprehensive coverage, few titles are not in the knowledgebase
  20. 20. How does it affect users? Erroneous data from publishers Knowledgebase User Interface Dead End!
  21. 21. This journal did not exist in 1973!
  22. 22. Bad Metadata Meets Discovery Same article, two different citations!
  23. 23. How Did Our ERM Fare? • Title changes are often properly represented in ERM • ISSN corrections • Rule statements in KB • Correct metadata in the knowledgebase affects all points of discovery down the line
  24. 24. Lessons Learned • Publisher/library data disconnect – Latest title vs. successive title entry • Title lists are static, yet content is fluid • Title lists supplied by publishers are marketing tools, not management tools – Title lists often appear to be an afterthought, even though it is the only tangible output of the purchase
  25. 25. Lessons Learned • Incomplete metadata affects perpetual access –Perpetual access is not just about access to the resource. –It is also about the perpetual supply of the metadata related to that resource.
  26. 26. Lessons Learned • Communication is key • Electronic resource management is an ever-changing environment • Don’t underestimate the importance of communication in the ERM process
  27. 27. Celebrating Our Victories
  28. 28. • Consortially-based repository of locally- loaded e-journals, e-books, social science data sets and geospatial data sets • Primary advantage is stability and preservation • A “safety-net” for e-journal content that has fallen through the cracks; though not immune to the problems with content provider metadata
  29. 29. Improved Catalogue Access • Prior to the commercial ERM, brief MARC records were created for each e-serial holding. • Minimal data, much duplication, high level of confusion amongst users. • With MARC service: CONSER records, multiple holdings on a single record, holding dates clearly identified, updated regularly. • Happier users…and reference librarians!
  30. 30. Other ERM Successes • Open Access – Increased visibility/awareness of OA titles – Revealed the instability of OA data feeds • Exposing previously hidden collections – Title level access where none was had before • Knowledgebase can be used as a tool to help inform purchases – Prevents duplicative purchasing – Usage statistics and overlap analysis tools
  31. 31. Greater Awareness of ERM Issues • In previous ERM, management of e-resources was disconnected from purchasing • Commercial system opened up access, allowing different people with different skill sets to work with the data • Recognition of the fluidity of the knowledgebase environment • Knowing the issues makes us better prepared for the future
  32. 32. Looking Forward
  33. 33. Collaboration • Electronic Resources Management Group • Aims to provide a comprehensive strategy regarding e-resources: – Focused on all aspects of e-resource lifecycle (acquisition, licensing, cataloguing, ERM maintenance, access) • Working towards greater centralization in e-resource management and improved collaboration
  34. 34. Communication • For ERM success, we need to work across departmental boundaries • Purchasers need to understand metadata needs • Bring metadata into the conversation with content providers – Discuss workflow, ERM pain points, end user frustrations, etc. – Act as an intermediary between content providers and knowledgebase vendors when necessary
  35. 35. Standardization • Promote the use of standards and best practices (KBART, TRANSFER, PIE-J) – Educate e-resource team members internally – Emphasize the importance of compliance to content providers • Include metadata requirements in your license agreements – Insist on KBART compliant title lists – Require knowledgebase participation • Collective buy-in is necessary for success
  36. 36. Documentation • Document your entitlements carefully – Shared drives – Naming conventions and versioning • Policies and procedures • Backup data regularly – Take snapshots of your holdings data and compare them – You may be (unpleasantly) surprised!
  37. 37. New Directions
  38. 38. Cooperative Management of Knowledgebase Data • WorldCat® Knowledge Base Cooperative Management – Phase One – Members approve/deny data changes – Phase Two – Members submit changes – Phase Three – Members add/delete title and add new collections • Global Open Knowledgbase (GoKB)
  39. 39. Automated Setting of E-Resource Holdings • Let’s take some people out of the process • OCLC + Pubget • EBL/Ebrary automated data feeds • Metadata quality? • Licensing requirement for publishers to provide holdings data to KB for ERM and discovery purposes
  40. 40. Increased Data Integration • Linked data – unlocking library data from its record constraints – BIBFRAME – RDA – Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory ??? • New data sources lead to new possibilities • Allow for data verification and correction
  41. 41. It’s Time to Change the Game • As libraries, we need to come together as a community • Let’s agree on the rules of play – Consistent expectations, consistent message • Acknowledge that change is imperative • Currently, it’s a game of frustration, let’s change it to game of collaboration!
  42. 42. Thank You! m.vanballegooie@utoronto.ca juliya.borie@utoronto.ca
  43. 43. Resources • Breeding, Marshall. “Automation Marketplace 2013: The Rush to Innovate”. Library Journal 137(6), p.32. • Breeding, Marshall. “Knowledge Base and Link Resolver Study: General Findings”. http://www.kb.se/dokument/knowledgebase_linkresolver_study.pdf • Research Information Network. “E-journals: their Use, Value and Impact: Final Report”. http://www.rin.ac.uk/our-work/communicating-and-disseminating- research/e-journals-their-use-value-and-impact • NISO. KBART Phase II Recommended Practice Report. http://www.niso.org/workrooms/kbart • NISO. Recommended Practices for the Presentation and Identification of E-Journals (PIE-J). http://www.niso.org/workrooms/piej • UKSG. Transfer Code of Practice, Version 3.0. http://www.uksg.org/transfer
  44. 44. Image Credits • http://www.theartofastralprojection.com/blog/confronting-fear-in-the-astral • https://flic.kr/p/8aK6CS • http://www.jmhdigital.co.uk/img/packages-point.png • http://reclaiminghearts.com/monday-musing-46/ • http://www.bctransferguide.ca/news-highlights/twitter1/ • http://siliconangle.com/files/2012/03/lost-and-found-pic1.png • http://blog.hostgator.com/2013/08/21/how-to-measure-website-success/ • http://miista.com/this-will-make-you-smile-promise/ • http://coffeewithdick.com/?p=4 • http://www.eurac.edu/en/newsevents/events/newsdetails.html?entryid=113601 • http://oclc.org/content/dam/support/knowledge-base/SC/SC_Guide_KBWC.pdf • http://info.bluebirdstrat.com/blog/bid/338081/What-is-a-Marketing-Automation- Consultant • http://www.illustrationsource.com/stock/image/519991/two-men-and-a-woman- holding-hands-on-top-of-globes/?&results_per_page=1&detail=TRUE&page=8