Selection and Evaluation for Acquiring E-Resources
In the current era, due to the effect of Information and Communication Technology, constant transformations and paradigm changes were noticed and more changes are yet to take place in overall functioning of the libraries. As the librarianship is to understand and provide information resources and services according to the information needs of the users, selection of information resources is one of the core functions of the library. Over the last decade, libraries of all kinds have been spending larger and larger shares of their budgets to acquire or gain access to electronic resources from publishers and vendors (Jewell, 2001). In the past, selectors used to recommend new titles on an individual basis using traditional selection criteria such as quality, relevance, use, and cost (Welch, 2001). Beyond the above mentioned, the factors like credentials of author, currency, the target users, accuracy and ease of use of the content, reputation of publisher, research needs of the institution and other important factors like citation analysis, impact factor of the journals and user surveys used to be the criteria for selecting print resources. However, along with the above mentioned points, with e-resources the shift is towards the new issues like easy and quick accessibility, coverage, search facilities, functionality of interface, method of pricing (consortium or the price is for bundle of e-resources etc), and license agreement. Thus, the selection criterion has become collaborative effort (with the opinions of interdisciplinary subject experts) that is more complicated and vital for good collection development in the library.
As suggested by Yale (1998); Joshipura, S (2008), IFLA (2012) for acquiring e-resources a systematic and standard procedure is to be followed and a Collection Development Policy is a prerequisite in all academic libraries that should provide guidance to selectors which is included but not limited to the below mentioned points:
- Full text, index/abstract, statistical, graphics etc
- Accuracy and currency compared to print counterpart
- Whether primary, secondary, peer-review etc
- Chronological coverage of the product
- Duplication such as equivalents in print or in other electric products in the collection
- Quality evaluation through reviews, demonstrations and trials
- Primary users of the resources
- Breadth of appeal across all types of library users
- Relevance to the offered programmes, faculty support, and interdisciplinary use
- Availability – remote access, stand-alone access
- Authentication – IP (Internet Protocol) filtering or login password
- Hardware and software compatibility and capability
- Storage and maintenance – Remote hosting v. local hosting
- Platforms which facilitate access to e-resources
Functionality and reliability (Interface Evaluation)
- Search and retrieval functionality – truncation, browsing, search history, transliteration
- Exporting and downloading
- Sorting and ranking abilities for database results – author, title date, relevancy, facets etc.
- Interface – system intuitiveness, navigation, help and tutorials
- Reliability and availability – response times, 24/7 access
Technical (Vendor) Support
- User training and support
- Trials and product demonstrations
- Technical support and system notification process
- Statistical reporting
- Provision of bibliographic data
- Data security and archiving policies
- Purchase model – one time purchase, subscribe, pay per view, rental
- Pricing models – Selective v. big deal
- Access options – single user, multiple users
- Archiving and post termination rights
- Maintenance fees
- Cancellation rights
- Model/ Standard license
- Governing laws
- Liability for authorized use
- Definition of authorized users
- Fair use provision
- Period of agreement
- Compliance with the governing laws of the library’s or consortium legal jurisdiction
- Space-saving due to disposition of print resources
Review for Renewal Procedure
If the resources are relevant to the users, then the following points are to be reviewed for renewing the resources IFLA (2012):
- Usage trends in specific areas – Is usage increasing or decreasing as compared to previous years or in comparison to other products in a similar area.
- How the resource compares to other resources in terms of cost per use.
- If the resource continues to represent value for money.
- If other options for access might be more cost effective (e.g., pay per view, selected content vs. package deal).
- If the number of simultaneous users is set at the appropriate level.
- The relevance and usage of current content vs. backfile content.
Further to the above mentioned the selectors should consider
- Changes to information provider.
- Changes in operating platform.
- Changes in access provision.
- Changes to pricing.
- Changes in access to backfiles.
- Changes to the license.
- Changes to packaging/content available.
As mentioned by Sadeh and Elligsen (2005) the librarians and other selectors face a lot of challenges like library budget, packages offered by different publishers, interface providers, subscription agencies and the frequent changes in business models, and, above all, the lack of automated tools to deal with the complexity of e-resource management while selecting and renewing the e-resources. The concept of Electronic Resource Management System (ERMS) has been initiated by Digital Library Federation (DLF ERM) during 2002-2004. According to DLF, ERMS should facilitate “management of the information and workflows necessary to efficiently select, evaluate, acquire, maintain and provide access to e-resources”.
E-resources have brought phenomenal change in the process of selection and acquisition of resources as the present day librarians are not only limited to the traditional functions but also their role has become more prominent and they should require good knowledge in technological as well as legal matters encompassed with good business negotiation skills.
- NISO/DLF Workshop (2002), NISO/DLF Workshop on Standards for Electronic Resource Management, May 10, available at: URL: http://www.niso.org/news/events_workshops/NISO-DLF-wkshp.html
- Jewell, T.D. (2001). “Selection and presentation of commercially available electronic resources: issues and practices”, Digital Library Federation and Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington, DC, available at URL: http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub99/pub99.pdf
- Joshipura, S. (2008). “Selecting, Acquiring and Renewing Electronic Resources” (p.48-65) in Holly Yu & Scott Brevold (Ed.) Electronic Management in Libraries: Research and Practice, New York: IGI Global.
- Sadeh, T and Elligsen, Mark. (2005). “Electronic Resource management System: The Need and Realization’. New Library World, 106(1212/1213), 208-218.
- Welch, J, M. (2002). Hey! What about Us?! Changing Roles of Subject Specialists and Reference Librarians in the age of Electronic Resources. Serials Review, 28(4), 283-286.
- Yale University Libraries. 1998. Examining Networked Resources. Available at URL: http://www.library.yale.edu/ecollections/ereschecklist.pdf.
- About the Author
Dr. Lalitha Poluru is working as Librarian at Institutes of Pharmacy & Science, Nirma University, Ahmedabad, India. Her email: email@example.com