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Impressions from the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference …

E-books and DDA

When CSU-Fullerton had a budget cut, they prioritized their DDA program and instead cut their approval plan. They skipped the intermediate step of an e-preferred approval profile.

In our own presentation, Derrik and I asserted that annual spending on DDA clusters around $4-$7 per FTE. Outrageous spending seen at other institutions might simply reflect a large FTE. With that thesis in mind (seeking confirmation bias?), we noted during other presentations that CSU-Fullerton is on track for $5/FTE. University of Denver spent $6/FTE.

An EBL rep reminded us to prepare for an increased percentage of triggered purchases each passing year as more infrequently-used books reach the trigger point.

A YBP rep mentioned that e-books now account for 10% of sales.

E-books vs. print books: The University of Denver examined usage in cases where they owned both the print and digital copies of the same book. High e-usage correlated with high print-usage (and vice versa), but without a clear causal link. Apparently, relevant content generates high use of both formats. About half of their presentation covered methodology – problems like separate ISBNs for each format made for a very time-consuming project.

E-journals and Big Deal alternatives

CSU-Fullerton used CCC’s Get It Now service to provide e-journals (with transactional payments) instead of ILL or subscribing. They did not anticipate that the same individual would sometimes download the same article multiple times. How to control for that in a patron-friendly way?

CUNY Graduate Center outlined how they eliminated a Big Deal. Essentially the content of that particular deal did not match current institutional strengths. By contrast, every time I’ve examined WFU use stats, the Big Deal for journals comes out ahead of the à-la-carte model.

Another presenter gave a sophisticated analysis of Big Deal journal usage for a consortium of libraries in the UK. He determined how much they would have to pay in Document Delivery or extra subscription charges if they left the Big Deal and returned to an à-la-carte model. In the end, the consortium renewed with both Big Deal publishers under consideration. The speaker’s model included a percentage use increase each year. He stated that use (i.e. journal article downloads) went up 14% each year. I’ve never thought to account for that before, but I could see whether that holds true for WFU. (If use does indeed go up, does it reflect enrollment growth or an increase in per-FTE consumption?)


Libraries (including ZSR) pay for hosting of the CLOCKSS archive at multiple sites worldwide. A speaker noted that the Japanese CLOCKSS site went down due to electric grid malfunctions in the aftermath of the earthquake/tsunami. The site restored itself with data from the other CLOCKSS sites over the next several months thereafter.

Discovery Layer

A speaker from Oklahoma State University investigated a question that Lynn has asked me to look into: If you have a discovery service (like Summon), do you still need A&I databases? OSU examined one case where a low-use A&I database offered a huge price increase. Her methodology was:

  1. Find the overlap between the A&I database and Summon.
  2. For unique titles, determine whether the library has holdings, and whether the title is in English.

Her findings:

  • For the database at issue, OSU determined that about 92% of the titles were covered (at least partially) in Summon. Of the remaining 8%, OSU held 6% (or, 0.48% of the entire list), and those holdings were generally both fragmentary and old.
  • About 75% of the unique titles were non-English. They also examined ILL requests for the unique titles, and discovered there had been none over the past two years.

Ultimately, they cancelled two A&I Databases using this methodology. At WFU, the true duds among our A&I databases have been cancelled already (unless bundled with something else). Therefore, I wouldn’t want to replicate this approach unless (as at OSU) the database is already low-use, budget pressures apply, and a faction protests the cancellation by playing the “unique content” card.


One of the keynote addresses introduced the ARL Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. This booklet covers scenarios like

  • reproducing portions of special collections items for the purpose of exhibit
  • e-reserves,
  • and many more.