You probably didn’t know this, but ZSR recently subscribed to EBSCO Usage Consolidation (UC), an online service for aggregating journal usage statistics. So I went to a session in which librarians from two universities described their experience with the product. Their review was mixed. Specific problems noted included (1) a lot of up-front effort to reconcile title differences; (2) difficult user interface; (3) default cost-per-use display includes usage from aggregator databases without factoring in the cost. They liked having cost-per-use data, and the number of available reports, but librarians at one university found it too cumbersome for title-by-title review.
Designing User-Centered Services for Virtual Users
The main take-away from this session was how nice it is to work at ZSR. The presenters made a big deal out of public services and technical services working together, like it was something novel to get public services’ “endorsement” for customizing the EBSCOhost interface. Steve and I talked later about how nice it is that everybody here is focused on what is best for our users.
Aggregator Databases: Cornerstone or Annex?
The presenters in this session described their efforts to assess the value of full-text content in aggregator databases. Rather than looking just at title counts, they compared full-text aggregator titles against ISI’s top-ranked journals (i.e. highest impact factors) in various subjects. For example, they determined that Academic Search Premier contained 11 of ISI’s top 25 journals in Education. Not surprisingly, they said they ended up with more questions than answers, such as the value of the aggregators’ indexing for article discovery. It was an interesting (if tedious) methodology, but ultimately doesn’t apply much to us given the role of NC LIVE providing much of our access to aggregator databases.
FRBR, Linked Data, & New Possibilities for Serials Cataloging
This was a very good presentation about the potential of linked data to bring together catalog records for related resources. The presenters described a scenario of a patron looking for the English translation of an Einstein paper. The original German work was published as a journal article in 1903. After much digging, they discovered the English translation within a 1989 monograph, but there was nothing in the respective catalog records directly linking the two manifestations together. The principles of FRBR and linked data can overcome MARC’s weakness in showing such relationships between items. Journals, articles, authors, and even subject headings, are all described as individual entities, and the coding describes their relationships to each other. The presenters talked about BIBFRAME, the Library of Congress’ “Bibliographic Framework Initiative” that is working toward replacing MARC. I admit I didn’t understand all this very well, and I’ll definitely be looking to learn more about it.
Finally, I had the opportunity at NASIG to pick Selden Lamoureux’s brain to learn more about ONIX-PL. What’s that? I’m glad you asked. ONIX-PL is a NISO standard, kind of like MARC for e-resource licenses. The standard was released in 2009, but uptake has been slow (practically nil in the US). Learning to encode licenses in ONIX-PL isn’t easy, so there hasn’t been much incentive for publishers to start using the standard. NISO recently received a Mellon grant to encode a collection of license templates, to give publishers and libraries a starting point, and NISO has contracted with Selden Lamoureux to do the encoding. So it was a great opportunity for me to meet up with her and learn more about ONIX-PL and the encoding project (which I plan to write more about in an upcoming article).