Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Things to remember when acquiring electronic resources

Summary of and reactions to "Acquiring Electronic Resources" by Denise Pan, chapter three of "Managing Electronic Resources: A LITA Guide" edited by Ryan O. Weir.

Main points:

  • "Aquisitions" is no longer always a distinct department in the library, involving more and varied parts of the institution.
  • The typical hierarchical structure of libraries tend not to be able to handle the dynamic nature of eresources.
  • Fundamental workflow should be: select, order, receive/access, pay, catalog, and assess.
  • Before ordering, identify the key parameters of the acquisition, e.g. what is it, how much will it cost now and ongoing, who are the vendors, and how will it be accessed.
  • Categorization of electronic resources may be complicated, with some products falling under several labels.
  • Consider budget availability
  • Document costs.
  • Onetime purchases may involve or become ongoing costs.
  • Predicting future prices is near impossible.
  • Important to know details about how the payment is to be made (from past experience or requesting such information beforehand).
  • Typical payment methods:  credit card, invoices, purchase orders.
  • Access assurance can involve issues such as registration, recording of technical support info, customizing interfaces, setting up proxy access, communicating user limitations, deciding on access points, etc.
  • Consider cancellation possibilities.
  • My understanding of "Acquisition" does not include selection, providing access, evaluation, etc.  These take place before, after, or parallel to acquiring items for the collection.  It should be primarily about ordering and paying, and the record keeping of related actions.
  • The categories used for electronic resources seems too constricted and simplified, despite the mention of cross-application of labels.  For example, the "Wild Kingdom of Electronic Resources" metaphor that is borrowed from a 2010 presentation strikes me as needlessly limiting the possibilities.  There are more than the three types: e-books, e-journals, and e-resources (i.e. other) IMHO and listing the typical acquisition details for these seems misleading.  In my experience, the "e-resource" category is enormous compared to individual ebook purchases and direct ejournal subscriptions.
  • Too often, obvious differences between print collections and electronic collections are described in detail, and then non-differences are explained as well.  Either this is a guide for those experienced with print acquisitions or it's not.
  • Too many swings between very general comments about concepts and very specific suggestions for handling certain matters.  Sometimes these specific suggestions are inappropriate for a potentially international audience, such as the mention of US IRS details when talking about payment issues.
  • One aspect of acquisitions (if it's to include selection, access, etc.) that should be included is the important of recording not only the costs and numbers, but also each aspect of the process, from consideration to access assurance.  If evaluation is to be taken consideration and budget funds are to be used responsibility, a record of what, why and when everything to do with an acquisition is important.

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