Monday, 25 February 2013

ASA 2013: Janet Peters on Order out of Chaos? Trends and Forecasts in the Scholarly Acquisitions Landscape

Janet Peters, Director of Libraries and University Librarian, at Cardiff University reflected on whether or not there would be order out of the current chaos for libraries.

She asked the question: how predictable are students and researchers?

  • Will numbers of applicants to universities continue to fall? December 2012 shows that applications are another 6.3% down: hitting universities hard in terms of income.
  • Will there be more demand for distance learning and part time courses - delivered globally?
  • Will research funding be focussed in a smaller number of centres?
  • How well will UK HE compete with global and/or private educational providers?
The market place for quality is changing. With student funding there has been a shift from government/tax payer to the student. There is no more money overall. Student choice is more evidence based with the use of Key Information Sets and the National Student Survey. The Research Excellence Framework will have significant levels of funding attached.

Library purchasing trends of note are:

  • more than two thirds of information provision expenditure is now on electronic resources compared to less than half five years ago
  • the average number of books added per FTE user was 1.1 in 2010-2011, which represents 2.0% of total stock, compared to 2.8% in 2000-2001
  • library expenditure as a proportion of total institutional income is going down
  • purchasing trends in Cardiff ebooks has risen
  • they bought 27,500 books in 2004-05, this was down to 15,000 2011-12
  • expenditure only dipping a bit, but the number buying is much lower.

So how do librarians keep everyone happy? They are adopting a 'just in time', not 'just in case' approach. Purchasing is based on evidence. The decision to retain (subscriptions or books) has to be justified. Statistics are essential: how much is x used by whom.

Anytime, anywhere access, for any number of readers is a priority. Ebooks or scanned articles and chapters for reading lists mean they are increasingly spoon-feeding students (particularly for first years) and disaggregating material. They are also exploring new models such as patron driven acquisition.

They are innovating through new services including federated search (LibrarySearch@Cardiff), rare books management, using social management, while looking at a rebuild, refresh and promote approach.

At the same time they are trying to improve the value from supply chain through various channels:

  • resistance to price increases
  • RLUK campaign
  • JISC Collections
  • Consortial purchasing (SHEDL, WHEEL) direct purchase from publishers (OUP has made good progress with country wide access while existing institutional subscribers still pay approximately what they did before)
  • Shared services
  • Consortial storage of journals UKRR
  • Licensing information - KnowledgeBase+
  • Cataloguing? Shelf ready: specialist hubs; master record
  • Library Management Systems?

Meanwhile, changes in publishing continue apace with open access, including The Finch Report with green self-archiving route and gold article payment charges (APCs). Peters made a plea to publisher to make it as easy as possible to access the transitional funding by getting invoices out as quickly as they can. She noted that the RCUK funding in April should make it easier. There is a growing marketplace for APCs, although this is dependent on author behaviour and national negotiations and Cross sectoral licensing (e.g HE/NHS).

So what is next? There are challenges around disaggregated and linked data. Students see separate bits of knowledge already and are not aware of the historic wrapper. This changes the whole issue of guaranteeing quality so they are having to train students to check provenance, etc. Is there a future of a journal as an entity? Is the future of bundles secure? And what about the future of metadata? Will that be open too? They also need to consider who provides access to research data.

Peters closed by considering how subscription agents can help bring order out of chaos:

  • They can broker APCs as an intermediary (see OAIG report)
  • Join Open Access Key (OAK)
  • Develop standards for data transfer between universities/funders/publishers on APCs
  • Create new business models and provide access to articles for library purchase (find the value-add compared to Google Scholar or the British Library) and curate and provide access to data.

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