I’ve sorted my 2014 ALA Annual Conference experience into 3 categories–Committee work, Vendor chats, and Sessions.

Committee work

The ALCTS Standards Committee was formed last fall to promote member involvement in and education about the development of information standards. Part of my assignment on that committee is to act as liaison to the ALCTS Continuing Resources Section (CRS), which means I got to go to two sets of committee meetings for the price of one! Saturday morning I traveled to Paris (i.e. Paris Las Vegas) where CRS was holding its “all committees” meeting. I met with the CRS Standards Committee, Cataloging Committee, Committee on Holdings Information, and the CRS Executive Committee to discuss the division-level committee’s charge and the best way for me to liaise with CRS. Then Sunday afternoon at the ALCTS division-level “all committees” meeting, we discussed reports from the 5 sections of ALCTS. We are still trying to pin down the best ways to carry out our charge. We are looking for ways to foster collaboration between the sections, and trying to determine the best way to interact with external standards organizations.

Vendor chats

With all the committee meetings and sessions I needed to attend, I wasn’t sure I would have enough time in the vendor exhibit hall. As I look at my results, I’m still not sure how I packed all this in. I won’t give details here, but feel free to follow up with me if you want to know more about any of these.

I had some fairly long, productive discussions with
JSTOR – ebooks & DDA
YBP – DDA profile management (deletions) & more
NYTimes – academic site license
EBSCO – Usage Consolidation questions
Kanopy – DDA
ProQuest/EBL – STL pricing, e-books in Summon, Academic Complete & DDA, etc.

Lauren, Jeff, and I attended a ProQuest-sponsored discussion about DDA, with librarians and publishers participating. Basically, everybody is struggling to adapt.

I had shorter discussions with
Wiley – new article interface coming
Data-Planet – new Java-free interface for Statistical Datasets coming
CLCD – we’re trying to get their author-title catalog lookup to work
Project MUSE – e-books, DDA (which they aren’t doing), & evidence-based acquisition (which they’re working on)
Taylor & Francis – e-book STL pricing
ProQuest – brief Intota demo
McFarland – thanked them for participating in NC LIVE’s Home Grown e-books pilot
BrowZine – now has an iPhone app
and the New York Philharmonic Archives, a free resource I had been unaware of – do you know what they played at their first concert?

And several others, of course. I met some sales reps that I had previously only corresponded with by e-mail (Alexander Street, SAGE, Taylor & Francis, and Euromonitor). I even managed to find a few book signings with no lines!

Sessions

Michael Levine Clark gave an e-book usage report, very similar to the one I attended at Midwinter last January. The basic (unanswered) question is “What constitutes meaningful use of an e-book?” (Or from a more practical standpoint, what type(s) of e-book use should we be measuring?) At one point, Clark suggested that an e-book being downloaded may be an indicator of significant use, but ZSR’s early data seemed to indicate that a download was usually an indicator of the user’s unfamiliarity with the platform. Answering an audience question about user preference, Clark said that if you ask users “Do you prefer print books or e-books?” most of them will select a preference, but if your questions are more nuanced-Which do you prefer for looking up a fact? Which do you prefer for immersive reading? If you could get an e-book immediately but had to wait 5 minutes for a print book, which would you prefer?-then no clear preference emerges, at least in the research he has done. Clark’s presentation slides are available at www.slideshare.net/MichaelLevineClark

In the CRS Standards Forum, presenter Aron Wolf, a ProQuest software developer, spoke about the NISO Recommended Practice called IOTA (“Improving OpenURL Through Analytics”). IOTA, released in 2013, came out of a 4-year research project to produce a standard way for link resolver vendors (think of the WFU Full Text Options button) to measure & describe how well their product works. Wolf, who was part of the working group for IOTA, said they concluded that there was not an objective, cross-vendor metric, so IOTA instead recommends a methodology for testing a link resolver against itself. At that point he either lost me in the technical details or else I understood it so well I didn’t think I needed to take any notes. One future possibility he suggested was that it may become possible for reports to check accuracy within a matter of hours, enabling link resolvers to respond much more quickly when publishers change linking formats.

The last session I attended at ALA was about “articles on demand,” also called pay-per-view (PPV), which is essentially DDA for journal articles. First, Beth Bernhardt from UNCG talked about their experience dropping PPV about 9 years ago in favor of “big deal” journal subscription bundles, and now having to reconsider PPV in light of ongoing budget cuts. Susanna Bossenga from Northeastern Illinois University explained her library’s on-demand article delivery, which they currently provide using the Copyright Clearance Center’s Get It Now service. Article requests are mediated and processed by their ILL department. Finally, Mark England from the University of Utah described their implementation of ReadCube Access. When authenticated users come across un-owned articles, ReadCube Access presents them with options to rent for 48 hours, download, or get a “cloud” copy (online reading only, with no time limit). The library pays, of course, with each access option costing a different amount–$4 to rent, $10 for the cloud option, or $25 for a downloadable PDF.

That summarizes my conference, and may help explain why I still feel jet-lagged a week later. Speaking of jets, my flight home left Las Vegas 10 minutes before a National Weather Service Excessive Heat Warning went into effect. I must say that if the heat over the weekend wasn’t “excessive” (Monday’s high was 111°), I’m really glad I got out when I did.