Professional Development

Author Archive

Carol at the Carolina Consortium Meeting

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 3:50 pm

On May 12, Chris and I attended the annual Carolina Consortium Meeting at UNCG. The format was half business meeting/half mini-conference with a focus on the resources that we purchase (or potentially could purchase) using the Consortium’s discounts. In the business half, I scribbled down the product names of a few offers that we might pursue.

After lunch, I attended the breakout session entitled, “The CC OCLC Deal: An Oxford-style Debate.” The two debaters were Angry Tim and Satisfied Tim, both played by Tim Bucknall of UNCG. Angry Tim sported a black hat and compared OCLC to The Borg swallowing up everything in its path (“resistance is futile”). Wearing a white hat and using the identical set of slides, Satisfied Tim painted OCLC as Capt. Picard leading a diverse crew of libraries into the final frontier. By using this style, the “two” Tims cleverly engaged our attention to deliver what could otherwise have been very boring information.

Satisied Tim

The program continued with Lightning Rounds. First, Steve Cramer from UNCG asked, “Are there alternatives to expensive business content?” (Answer: Sometimes.) Then, Liz Siler spoke on “A follow-up on UNCC’s eTextbook program.” I reported on this initiative back in November. Liz just started explaining student and faculty reaction to the program when…

BRAYNK! BRAYNK! Fire alarm!

After locating the nearest exit (it was indeed behind us), we spent 20 minutes enjoying the beautiful weather and rejoicing that the Elliott Center had not yet burst into flames. The organizers cancelled the remainder of the conference with a pledge that they’ll do something (e.g. webinar, shared slides) about the 2½ Lightning Round presentations we missed.

Carol’s View of ACRL

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 12:02 pm

A building at Portland State University

 

As a collections person, I found this conference rather thin on relevant programming, especially since I knew that Roz/Kyle/Kaeley would cover all the instruction angles. That said, the program committee did a good job of spreading the collections-focused sessions among the time slots so I had at least one relevant choice almost every time. I also took advantage of the chance to attend the occasional session outside of my niche, e.g., one on “Complexity and Contradiction in Green Architecture.”

Two presentations were respectively a denunciation and an apologia for DDA. Maybe when the virtual conference comes out I’ll watch them back-to-back and think of them as a debate. I tended to side with the DDA apologist. This fits my natural inclination, but she also used a CC-licensed photo from the ZSR Library Flickr photostream! Her point when showing this picture was that DDA would make libraries’ general collections more alike. Therefore, libraries will distinguish themselves by their special collections.

Miscellaneous Gleanings

On IPEDS statistical craziness: Mount Holyoke has over 600K e-books per ACRL’s definition and only 86 per IPEDS. (For painful detail, see this LibGuide and if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, follow the link to “Questions and Answers from IPEDS.”)

On Collection Development policies: A speaker expressed – with evident dismay – that 44% of ARLs don’t have a collection development policy.

DPLA can virtually reunite physically split collections. They cited a penmanship collection that is physically split between NYPL and the U. of Scranton.

The architecture speaker had learned in school that an optimal design moves water away from the building as quickly as possible. In the emerging green architecture ethos, you want the water to trickle down slowly and get filtered by plants along the way.

Bob Holley on self-published books. He named several categories where the library may want to acquire these works. For instance, local history, fringe perspectives (he cited anti-vaxxers as one example) and personal memoirs that are effectively primary sources.

The rest of this is about e-books

I attended a roundtable discussion on e-books. Nothing too groundbreaking, more like a group therapy session. It’s valuable to know that the challenges we face are also faced by others. NASIG got a name-check as an advocacy group for more library- and user-friendly e-books.

One speaker noted that 6 out of 7 students in a qualitative usability study had a stated preference for print. The speaker said that today’s college students got their early training and developed study habits in a print-centered environment. The preferences of college students may eventually change if K-12 education moves more toward e-books.

Sometimes students use print and e-formats of the same book in tandem. For instance, they may start with the e-book and move over to print for deep reading. Another university found that students used e-books for dip in, dip out reading to support writing papers. (At another conference, the researchers found the dip in, dip out behavior in print books as well.)

Images in e-books are sometimes missing due to permissions issues, so print is a more strongly preferred format for disciplines such as Art History, Theater and Architecture.

Over time, students got more selective about how much they print from e-books. For usability interviews, being guided around e-books made the participants more receptive of the format.

Look at usage of e-book titles that are deleted from the subscription and DDA programs. If there’s anything high use, we may want to buy a copy some other way. I already plan to apply this idea, although I’ll need to keep opportunity costs in mind. (This project may take a lot of time and yield just a few purchases, especially if the deletes are superseded editions.) These presenters found that deleted books had less use, on average, than the overall pool.

 

Carol Watches the Electronic Resources & Libraries Online Conference

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 10:11 am

For the third straight year, Derrik has facilitated group viewing of the online presentations of the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference. Read on for some gleanings I reaped from three of the sessions that I watched live and one that I’ve already seen as a recording. I will probably continue watching recorded sessions as I have time. Indeed, just a few weeks ago I was catching up with a few sessions I missed from 2014. ZSR folk can contact Derrik for the login information.

Come One, Come All: Building a Community for the Global Open Knowledgebase
Kristen Wilson, North Carolina State Univ.

Ms. Wilson outlined a project called GOKb, a new open-source knowledgebase. (Knowledgebase = the back-end data that supports services like Find a Journal and WFU Full Text Options.) If GOKb lives up to its potential, then a single library can fix a data error, and it would be fixed for everyone else regardless of what commercial product they may use.

Making Value Judgments: eBook pricing for Access and Ownership
Michael Levine-Clark, Assoc. Dean for Scholarly Communication & Collections Services, Univ. of Denver
Jason Price, Director of Licensing Operations, SCELC
Maria Savova, Claremont Colleges

The presenters outlined different ways to think about value when it comes to e-books and how different purchasing models perform better or worse depending on the value that you seek. For instance, to avoid DRM, buy directly from the publisher. However, cost-per-use is lower with DDA and subscription models. This presentation did not provide The Answer. Rather, there are multiple right answers depending on your most important values. I think a further bit of research could compare institutions of different sizes. Levine-Clark claimed that the subscription model was the most effective on cost-per-use. However, his institution is twice as large as WFU, implying twice the use. Some purchasing models scale down the price for smaller schools, and others do not. What difference would that make on cost-per-use?

Did We Forget Something? The Need to Improve Linking at the Core of the Library’s Discovery Strategy
Jesse Koennecke, Director of Acquisitions & E-Resource Licensing Services, Cornell Univ.
Eddie Neuwirth, Sr. Product Manager, ProQuest
Jacquie Samples, Head of Electronic Resources & Serials Cataloging Section, Duke Univ. Libraries

Over the years, I’ve seen many presentations complaining about the problems with OpenURL linking. Fortunately, this presentation focused on solutions. ProQuest is replacing the top “escape hatch” with a right sidebar. IMHO, the sidebar looks like such a great improvement that I think we should implement it mid-semester. (Roz agreed, so Kevin implemented it on Monday.) ProQuest has also implemented IEDL (Index-Enhanced Direct Linking) to take users directly from Summon to the content. IEDL was launched some months ago, and I hadn’t even noticed (which is good!). Ms. Samples talked about the errors that cause OpenURL to go wrong and stressed the importance of reporting the errors.

Is Open Access the Golden Ticket? The Real Cost of OA for the Library
Kim Armstrong, Deputy Director, Center for Library Initiatives, CIC
Jay Starratt, Dean of Libraries, Washington State Univ.

The presenters surveyed some large academic libraries. They concluded that so far Open Access actually results in increased costs because universities sometimes provide funding for APCs but OA hasn’t taken off enough to allow us to cancel subscriptions. As you might imagine, this presentation attracted a lot of discussion. One commenter speculated that the impact of OA might be in preventing the launch of new subscription journals or in holding down the rising costs of journals.

Charleston 2014 According to Carol: Kanopy and E-Books

Thursday, November 13, 2014 4:56 pm

Illinois State University spoke about their experience with Kanopy. Two key observations about impact:

  • After starting DDA, they saw an increased number of requests to license non-DDA Kanopy titles – suggesting that some percentage of faculty users treat Kanopy as a standalone database.
  • ISU had previously bought streaming rights to some individual titles, which they hosted locally. When these titles were duplicated in the Kanopy DDA set, the Kanopy version generally had more use. This implies that the Kanopy versions are either more useful or more easily discoverable.

At Wake Forest, two Kanopy DDA films have already been used enough to trigger a purchase, and this is before loading the MARC records or doing any promotion beyond a single ZSReads article.

Two librarians from Wesleyan University did both qualitative (anthropology-style + usability) and quantitative (survey) studies of student attitudes and behaviors regarding e-books. Their observations:

  • Having personal control over a copy was most important, e.g. printing or making a PDF.
  • E-books work best for discovery. Print is better for deep reading.
  • Students read just what they need to write the paper. This holds true for print books and e-books.
  • Students are not interested in pirating per se, but they prioritize easy over legitimate.
  • Indexes to e-books are still exact reproductions of the paper format. The index terms are not hyperlinked; therefore, the index does not get used.

I saw two presentations on e-books featuring the always interesting Michael Levine-Clark from Denver. In the first presentation, he was on a panel that included reps from Wiley, OUP and YBP. They focused on the rapidly increasing costs of short-term loans, i.e. the one-day rental fees paid for the DDA books. Rebecca Seger from OUP presented on the economics of publishing a book. In a nutshell, OUP could predict the revenue streams for print but not for DDA. However, Levine-Clark pointed out that in the aggregate Denver spends the same amount on book content regardless of the existence of DDA. It’s just spread around differently. (At WFU, ZSR is actually spending more on monographs since the advent of DDA.) Any total reduction in monographs spending (at Denver or nationally) is due to journal inflation, which both Oxford and Wiley engage in. Since Denver is facing a flat budget, if current trends continue, their monograph spending (print or e) will be $0 by 2020. The panel did not offer any concrete suggestions on resolving the crisis beyond general statements about publishers and librarians working together.

The second presentation explored e-book usage in the Humanities. Levine-Clark had a national data set, and he compared usage in Humanities vs. Social Sciences vs. STEM. Then he compared the disciplines within Humanities to each other. I quickly realized that – based on usage patterns – Linguistics & Communication act more like the Social Sciences than Humanities. One interesting thing that he noted: The number of use sessions per 100 books available is lower in the Humanities than in Social Sciences or STEM. He did not speculate on a reason, but personally, I wonder if this reflects an oversupply of Humanities research compared to the demand for consuming Humanities research – especially since Humanities faculty are often specifically evaluated by whether they have published a book.

Imagine for a moment that ZSR cancelled its DDA plan: What might take its place? The two main alternative purchasing models are subscriptions (e.g. ebrary) and the Big Deal. I attended two sessions that probed different aspects of the Big Deal model. For e-books, Big Deal purchases are usually brokered directly by publishers (instead of by aggregators like EBL and ebrary). They generally do not have any DRM, and the books can be used by unlimited users. After UNC-Charlotte serendipitously discovered that they had 30 course adoption books within their Big Deal packages, they began deliberately promoting this idea with the faculty. They ultimately paid $14K for 117 additional titles. (They purchased some books one-by-one in addition to the Big Deals.) The bookstore was a good partner. A faculty member who used this program for his Film Studies course talked about how this program positively impacted his teaching.

Examples:

  • He did not feel morally obligated to use every single chapter in the textbook, since the students were not required to pay out-of-pocket for it.
  • A corollary: he felt free to use single chapters from various books.
  • He likes a tech-free classroom, yet he still found ways to use the text within the class session.

Sidebar: This generally works for “course adoption” books. Rebecca Seger had helpfully explained the distinction between a “course adoption” book and a textbook. A textbook is something like Intro to Statistics, 18th edition. A “course adoption” book is something like The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: adaptation to closed frontiers and war, which was not expressly designed as a textbook, but was indeed adopted for course use by a faculty member at WFU. Publishers do not know in advance which general monographs will become course adoption books. Generally, publishers do not sell multi-user textbooks to libraries, since that harms their lucrative (extortionate?) textbook revenue stream.

The last presentation I attended painted a less rosy picture of the Big Deal. Miami University thoroughly analyzed 2.5 years of usage statistics for Big Deal e-books purchased in 2012. Only 19% of titles had a use. Just three books (by their titles, clearly textbooks) accounted for 17% of downloads. Miami’s FTE is roughly 15K, or twice that of WFU. Therefore, I speculate that WFU would see only 10% usage if ZSR were to purchase this kind of package. Every time I have investigated the pricing of one of these packages, I have noted that the discount for buying in bulk does not even come close to accounting for the nearly inevitable low usage rates. While packages differ as to subject coverage, the ones that cover everything published by Publisher X in a given year are the worst deal, as there is no price break for the large swaths of content (e.g. agriculture) that would see virtually no use at a school like WFU.

While the Big Deal for journals is frequently (and sometimes with justice) maligned among librarians, the extra you pay for the journals without any previous subscription (i.e. likely low-use journals) rarely exceeds more than 10% of prior spend. I would not advocate for pursuing the Big Deal model for monographs unless publishers begin offering much steeper discounts.

Carol at the International Medieval Congress

Sunday, May 11, 2014 7:47 pm

Thanks to a fortunate alignment of events, I got to go on an all-expenses-paid (by me) trip to the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI at Western Michigan University.

Most sessions were 1½ hours long and included three presentations around a common theme. I attended the following sessions (WFU faculty who presented are listed in parentheses):

  • In Honor of Dolores Warwick Frese I: Medieval Mothers and the Mother Tongue
  • New Research in Old High German Literature and Linguistics (Tina Boyer, German & Russian)
  • Gothic Language and Linguistics
  • In a Word, Philology: Etymology, Lexicography, Semantics and More in Germanic (Heiko Wiggers, German & Russian)
  • Crusades
  • Hanse Realm: Trade, Culture, and Exchange
  • Late Antiquity II: Late Antique Italy
  • Rethinking Reform II: Councils as Context, Catalyst, and Communicator of Reform
  • Philosophical Texts and Traditions (Michael Sloan, Classical Languages)

Since several of the papers were about the history of translating certain texts, I managed to touch on all five of my liaison areas in a single conference. Gale Sigal (English, co-chair of the WFU Medieval Studies program) invited me to attend dinner with her and four WFU students who were there. Lunches were in the school cafeteria. Mealtime conversations with WFU faculty led to five discrete requests from three different WFU faculty for me to buy a book, check up on a standing order possibility, etc. At one lunch, Michael and Tina discussed how they’ve used my instruction services, and they each pledged to use them more often. I almost never get PRS’s unless I’ve visited the class, so I mentioned the possibility of a 10-minute class drop-in, which is mainly a commercial for the PRS service and the relevant Research Guide. (Fortunately I give Classical Languages and German fairly even attention – if I didn’t I would’ve been busted!)

A few observations on this type of conference in comparison to librarian conferences:

The exhibit hall. My stereotype…

Ask Your Library to Subscribe Today!

Ask Your Library to Subscribe Today!

There was only one booth like this. This booth was more typical…

One of many booths selling individual books to attendees

One of many booths selling individual books to attendees

There was basically no vendor swag. The vendors were more focused on selling a single book today as opposed to selling $50K worth of product six months from now. This conference also featured sellers of “medieval sundries.”

Drinking Horns for Sale

Drinking Horns for Sale

They didn’t say, but I’m assuming these drinking horns are not dishwasher safe.

During the presentations, PowerPoints were relatively uncommon, and Tina was the only presenter I saw using Prezi. Much more typical was a paper handout. Usually the handout had a few paragraphs of medieval text that the presenter was going to analyze. In one case, the speaker handed out his entire paper! It was also not uncommon for a presenter to read a paper verbatim – something I almost never see at a library conference.

The sheer number of sessions was overwhelming. There were 565 sessions total, including as many as 54 in the same time slot!

The attendees seemed to be much more international (or at least European) than the crowd at library conferences. I either saw a presentation by or ate a meal with someone from South Africa, Germany, Italy, Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Canada and the UK. Since church history is a significant aspect of medieval culture, there were several monks, nuns and priests in the crowd and among the presenters.

One similarity with the Charleston Conference that I attend annually: This conference is held in the same place every year, and a significant number of attendees go year after year. This situation leads to social groups forming and re-forming each year, as well as certain annual rituals like visiting the same restaurants.

Come talk to me if you’d like to hear more details about all the presentations I saw. Be forewarned: I might go on and on about two Old Norse words for “word” if you do.

2014 ER&L virtual conference

Thursday, April 10, 2014 5:03 pm

For the second year running, I “attended” the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference by watching streamed sessions. I still plan on watching sessions as time permits throughout the year, since the group purchase that Derrik made runs until the next conference is held in 2015. (ZSR folks: Ask Derrik if you need the password.)

One trend that popped up in multiple presentations was Evidence-Based Acquisition (EBA). Like its close relative Demand-Driven (or Patron-Driven) Acquisition, it has two names and two initialisms. So you may also hear of Usage-Driven Acquisition (UDA). With EBA, you give a provider an up-front deposit, say, $5,000. Then then provider turns on their entire catalog of e-books or streaming films. After a set time, say, a year, you get a usage report and can choose $5,000-worth of products for permanent ownership. There are some pros and cons to this approach, especially vis-à-vis DDA. (What if you don’t get $5,000 worth of use? What if all the use is long tail with no “short head”?) However, since providers who use this model generally do not participate in DDA models, EBA may be the most cost-effective way to buy certain types of material.

Another hot topic was the end-user experience with e-books and certain multimedia databases. Basically, it’s bad. Typical problems with e-books include not being able to print, not being able to use the book on certain devices, not being able to store the book for later consultation. Multimedia has a different but related set of concerns. (I’m reminded of this comic and this infographic. They both claim that poor UX drives customers to piracy.) The presenters didn’t go as far as claiming that library resources drive folks to piracy, but they did claim that students will instead either download free alternatives or the “haves” might buy individual copies instead, which could magnify the effects of economic disparities among students. The presenters insisted that libraries should put their collective foot down and refuse to buy user-hostile resources (even if the information contained is high quality). They called out one well-known database as particularly awful. A quick check of that library’s website established that they still subscribe to the bad product, so the force of their argument was somewhat undermined. I have hope, however, because I can remember a time in the 90s when e-journals and e-newspapers were just as bad as e-books are today. Printing from JSTOR used to be a nightmare, and you had to use certain specific computers if you wanted to use ProQuest. Then you had to use a different computer entirely for LexisNexis. These days, e-journals generally just work. Maybe e-books and multimedia sites will get there someday if we keep leaning on the vendors and if we at least occasionally refuse to buy products that are the worst UX offenders.

Two Thoughts from the NC Serials Conference

Monday, April 7, 2014 1:59 pm

I also attended the North Carolina Serials Conference last month. Since several other ZSR bloggers have already reported, I will focus on two ideas put forward during a late-morning plenary session, which featured David Crotty again.

Crotty remarked that the paper announcing the cure is not as important as the actual cure. We might make the paper available via Open Access while the cure itself (say, a drug) might be protected by patent law.

Crotty also asserted that, contrary to popular belief, Humanities often runs at a profit while Physical Science runs a deficit within a university budget. He claimed that’s because a lot of tuition money is paid by Humanities majors, which subsidizes expensive lab space in Physical Science. (I’m carefully noting that he didn’t say Life Sciences, which probably attracts the most grant money of all and is also a popular undergraduate major.) He cited a recent NPR story about Duke that focused on where all the money goes. I listened to that story today, but didn’t hear the same interdepartmental subsidy message that Crotty asserted. So, I don’t know if he cited some other evidence for his claim (that I didn’t write down) or what. Nevertheless, I would be very interested in whether this is true at Wake Forest or not. I have often thought about this issue on a smaller scale when we allocate the collections budget. Even if you just look within a broad discipline group like Humanities, it appears that larger, more popular majors subsidize smaller ones. I have two defenses to offer. The first is that Demand Driven Acquisition serves as a correction to this tendency. The second is that a certain amount of inter-departmental subsidizing is necessary. Students are attracted to Wake Forest because they like the idea that they have over 40 choices for their major. Once they actually get here, over half of the students cluster in a just a few majors. However, many students would not choose WFU at all if we only offered, say, ten majors. Crotty’s broader point, and the point of the NPR story, is to ask whether it’s a good idea for student tuition dollars to go towards research, especially when the tuition comes in the form of a loan that must be repaid with interest.

2013 Charleston according to Carol

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:12 am

Here are the highlights of the most important sessions I attended at Charleston:

Derrik has already covered the first session on discovery services. I won’t repeat what he said, except to link to the slides. I’ll also point out that we were one of the 149 libraries that gave approval to be studied (slide 10), but I don’t know if we were ultimately selected. In a related presentation on Friday, Bruce Heterick from JSTOR discussed efforts in getting their content to show appropriately in discovery services. JSTOR found that usage plummeted after certain schools implemented certain discovery layers. (My opinion: Students will frequently use JSTOR on name recognition alone – even when it’s not the optimal source for their topic. If the discovery service delivers more appropriate up-to-date content, so much the better.) Heterick said that many discovery services depend heavily on subject metadata for relevancy ranking. JSTOR does not include that metadata, and it would be expensive to produce. (Just a thought – many JSTOR articles are indexed with subject metadata in A&I places like MLA, which are sometimes included in the discovery service as well. How can that be harvested appropriately?)

Librarians from Ferris State reported on how they processed titles that they committed to retain within their Michigan consortium. They used a 912 field in the MARC record to indicate reasons for retention. Missing books and those in poor condition took extra time to process since they needed to find another consortium member who would take responsibility for keeping the title.

Kristin Calvert from Western Carolina reported on a project to move all their usage stats to EBSCO Usage Consolidation (hence: EUC). Before implementing this project, it took them four full working days each year to collect e-journal stats. I know Derrik would identify with some of the frustrations that Calvert expressed. After the decision to use EUC, it took…

  • 2-3 weeks to set up (I’m not sure if non-stop work is implied here.)
  • 8 hours for initial cleanup
  • 4-6 hours for quarterly loads (could do this annually to save time)
  • <1 hour/month for cleanup

The product includes an “Exceptions” list of journals that had some kind of mismatch in the system. WCU staff had to reconcile the exceptions, but once they did, EUC remembered the fix so the same exception wouldn’t pop up again. The screenshot that Calvert showed had zero exceptions. Calvert concluded that she found this project worthwhile given the efficiencies gained at the end.

On Saturday, two librarians from Bucknell discussed how they dropped their approval plan and went with print DDA for everything. They use WorldCat/WorldShare for their catalog and discovery layer, so they could accomplish this without any loading (or deactivation) of records in their system. Patrons click on a ‘Get It’ button (powered by GIST), and a librarian decides whether to fulfill the request by purchase or by ILL. In the end, they ordered 1/3 fewer titles, spent 50% less, and ILL decreased. Bucknell took this path because their approval books circulate at a low rate. They also weed aggressively (12K new books/year and 6K deletions/year), so their collection was a revolving door. They pointed out that their library focuses on undergraduate curriculum, not research, so WFU may not want to pursue this idea. One point that resonates with me though: they reminded us that ‘efficient’ does not necessarily mean ‘effective.’ Approval plan ordering is the most efficient way to get books, and e-book DDA is even more efficient at delivery. However, are they as effective in getting users to the content they need in the format they want?

Carol at NCLA 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:02 am

Since I live very close to the Convention Center, I volunteered for the Local Arrangements Committee. In addition to managing the bag-stuffing operation, I spent several hours staffing the Local Information Booth, from which I gave opinionated advice about local restaurants (and handed out restaurant guides prepared by Hu!). I was thrilled to leave my car at home for three days straight, but was mildly disappointed to discover that I didn’t win the short distance award. To my knowledge, that honor belongs to another ZSR librarian (ask around offline if you want to know who!) and a librarian from High Point U. who lives downtown.

Local Information Table
I still had time to attend some of the sessions. I’ll skip talking about sessions already discussed by other ZSR bloggers, and a few others where my main takeaway was confirming that I am already up on current trends. Here are more details on three sessions where I learned a lot of valuable new-to-me information.

Demystifying Fund Formulas in an Academic Library Setting

Lisa Barricella & Cindy Shirkey, ECU
ECU was looking for a different way to allocate the monograph portion of their budget. Their previous formula – based on factors like credit hours, faculty headcount, grad students, etc. – had several flaws. For instance, using credit hours earned in a subject would overfund areas like foreign languages where there is a lot of enrollment at the lower levels, but not a lot of need for library materials. Also their old formula – just for monographs – didn’t account for the journals v. books breakdown which is unique to each discipline. (There was also the procedural issue that the data, which came from sources external to the library, was sometimes very difficult to collect.) Their new formula relied heavily on two factors: how much the collection in, say, Art was used as a proportion of the entire collection and how many ILLs did Art generate in proportion to their holdings. Both of these criteria more closely map to the actual demand for monographic materials in that subject. (The ILL part was not fully implemented due to specific failures in ILLIAD reporting.) Finally the average price of books was considered. While I’m not looking to redo all the monograph budgets anytime soon, I will keep these ideas in mind in case we ever need to overhaul our monograph budget structure.

Taming the Hydra: A Strategic Approach

Kim Vassiliadis, Emily King & Chad Haefele, UNC
This presentation is about how UNC corralled a whole bunch of subject guide thingies all over their website, deleted about half of them, and got all the rest into LibGuides with an updated (and consistent) look-and-feel. Then they initiated a plan to make sure that each LibGuide gets some maintenance at least once a year. Guides that are not updated are given “unpublished” status (i.e. suppressed from public view) in LibGuides. I’m impressed that they were able to pull this off in the decentralized environment at UNC. One rule they implemented was that you can’t have more than one row of tabs. Also every guide has to have an intro paragraph that lists all the tabs. I actually disagree with the intro paragraph idea. More on that in a minute.

I Honestly Had No Idea: LibGuides Usability Assessment in an Academic Library

Randall Bowman, Teresa LePors & Shannon Tennant, Elon
LibGuides best practices is an area where a lot of folks (including yours truly) have lots of ideas but very little evidence. Elon conducted a usability test with some undergraduates to fill the evidence gap. In addition to asking students to perform tasks, they asked some subjective questions at the end.
Some of their conclusions:

  • Students go straight for the search box, any search box. That’s bad news on my guides since the only embedded search box is for “Search this Guide.” That’s also bad if the source with a search box is not the best place to go for that topic. For one task, the relevant guide had a JSTOR search box embedded (also with the pretty “J” logo). However, JSTOR did not contain the particular article that students needed to find.
  • Students don’t read the text on the page. They quickly scan for something that looks familiar.
  • Students ignore the tabs. (Paraphrased comment from audience: I’ve been to three presentations on LibGuides, and they all say that students don’t use tabs! However, LibGuides is built around tabs!)
  • Students were split (on both the tasks and the subjective questions) as to whether “Articles” or “Databases” was the best word for leading students to databases that contain articles. (My own guides hedge on this one by saying e.g. “Linguistics Databases for Finding Journal Articles”)
  • Students don’t scroll, which is bad news if you’re also not using tabs
  • Elon’s main LibGuides page prominently featured the tag cloud. Students didn’t use it, and on the subjective questions they Xed it out as an unnecessary element.
  • Students liked the librarian profiles, which include an embedded chat window. A significant percentage of their chat questions are referred by the research guide pages.

Based on what they learned, Elon is going to lose the tag cloud and have the front page of each LibGuide list all the tabs (like UNC). I disagree with this “intro paragraph” approach since it was also established that students don’t read the text! When I have time, I’m going to edit my LibGuides so that the #1 resource is a search widget, preferably with a pretty logo. If there is no pretty logo, then maybe I’ll add the “Best Bet” star like we use on the database pages.

Carol “at” ER&L

Friday, April 5, 2013 4:45 pm
Local Scenery "at" the conference

Local Scenery "at" the conference

No, my post title isn’t a candidate for the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. I was one of the virtual attendees at the conference. Since Derrik and Chris have already blogged, I’ll focus my reflections on some of the topics they haven’t covered yet.

What would Google Do?

Elizabeth German from the University of Houston reported on a transaction log analysis. Like us, their home page had several tabs roughly equating to Summon, catalog, e-journals, etc. Forty-three percent of searches were for known items vs. 53% for unknown item searching.

DDA as a Game Changer

Michael Levine-Clark University of Denver and Barb Kawecki YBP

This presentation was partly an overview of what DDA is. The new part for me is that NISO is working on some Best Practices on how to do DDA. For instance, publishers should keep titles available indefinitely in case a book languishes unused for decades but eventually gets a use. Another key thing they’re working on is how to get titles out of the consideration pool. (At WFU, we are particularly worried about superseded editions staying in the DDA pool alongside the newer editions.)

E or P: A Comparative Analysis of Electronic and Print Book Usage

Christopher C. Brown and Michael Levine-Clark from the University of Denver updated a study that I reported on last year about print and electronic use of the same book. This time, they analyzed Duke University Press books they had bought in print and from ebrary. When both formats were available, print was more likely to be used than e. (619 different print titles were used vs. 451 e-titles. This is from a universe of 1150 titles available in both formats.) However, books that were used in both formats tended to have the highest amount of total usage, and the type of e-usage tended to be more significant (e.g. higher number of pages used, higher number of pages printed). Once again, use in print correlated with use of e. Maybe patrons are using the e-book for discovery, which leads to a checkout in print. (Note this is just a speculated pattern; the data aren’t granular (or invasive) enough to prove that the same person uses a book electronically and then subsequently checks out the print.)

OpenURL Link Resolvers: Tracking Effectiveness over Time

Kenyon Stuart from the University of Michigan studied how SFX and 360 Link and Summon’s Direct Linking succeeded in linking users to full text. After all this time, there’s still a lot of room for improvement in this linking. Supplements, book reviews and newspapers are particular problems. He did find ways to reduce bad links for the most frequently used journals. For instance, he moved better-performing providers up in the 360 Link results list. (We’ve done that too, for instance ranking publisher-based sites generally higher than aggregators and putting print last.)

Reflections on virtual attendance

ER&L is a relevant conference for me, but not my #1 conference for the year. The group virtual attendance option was affordable. It also brought in folks for single sessions who never would have traveled to Texas. Thanks to Derrik for arranging this!


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