Rationalization of the investment on information resources in libraries: a case study at the Library of the University of Almeria (Spain)
Encarna Fuentes Melero, Mila Cascajares Rupérez, Belén Fornovi Rodríguez, Mª Carmen Pérez Agudo
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu w Almerii (Hiszpania)
The economic situation Europe is currently experiencing, and consequently, the constant economic adjustments set by Public Administrations of European countries, are forcing the university libraries to rethink their acquisitions policies under the criteria of use and cost, in order to achieve a greater efficiency in terms of offered services, available resources and invested budget.
The aim of this paper is to describe how the Library of the University of Almeria (Spain) is acting in this environment, producing annual assessment reports of its information resources, and using them as the basis for raising its budget.
This evaluation includes both the electronic resources (through detailed studies of the number of searches and downloaded documents in all subscribed e-journals and e-books databases) and the recommended bibliography for students in printed format (through the analysis of the number of loans and the use in the reading rooms).
As a result of this analysis, adaptation of the bibliographic collection to the users’ needs, modification of the staff workloads, and accuracy of the librarians training programs, have been achieved.
university libraries, electronic information resources, assessment in libraries, Library of the University of Almeria (Spain)
The continous redefinition of the Library role at the University, exceeding a Service only intended to support study and teaching, and, above all, the need of a clear accountability of public annual budget in the current situation of financial crisis, have led us to the adoption of new criteria for the acquisition of information resources based on the constant assessment of their use and efficiency.
The goal of this paper is to describe how the Library of the University of Almeria (Spain) is acting in this environment, producing annual assessment reports of its information resources, and using them as the basis for raising its budget. This constant of evaluating each year the available resources and the offered services has been reflected in the recent creation of a new position in our organizational structure, „Evaluation of Resources and Services Manager”.
The research methodology is based on the analysis of annual information resources reports.
During the last years, in general terms, we have evolved from a situation characterized by:
- Acquisition and cancellation of electronic resources on demand from our teachers / researchers
- Increasing annual budgets (based on the maintenance of existing resources to whom new titles were annually added)
- Acquisition of printed resources (recommended bibliography for students) at the request of the teachers and following the recommended ratios, in terms of number of copies according to the number of students, without the intervention of the Library.
To the current situation in which, in general terms:
- Budget is built after the analysis of the use of each information resource during the year in progress and reviewing the use during the last 3 years
-Information resources that have been of a very limited use, and consequently, present a very high cost per use are cancelled
-The Interlibrary Loan Service is empowered, so our researchers can continue accessing the information needed, with the Library commitment of obtaining the requested documents within a period no longer than 48 hours
-The recommended bibliography for students is acquired at the request of the teachers but Library is involved in terms of the number of copies, equally according to the use (number of loans per copy) of the printed books. Usage data are provided to the University teachers each four months during the academic course.
Information about the 2012 Evaluation Resources Report (based on 2011 data), and the consequent decision making during the financial year are shown below.
The analysis of the use of the Electronic Collection
As the initial data we will mentioned that our Library acquires its electronic resources in two ways:
1-Acquisition by Consortium at the University Libraries Consortium of Andalucia (CBUA): 10 Public University Libraries acquire electronic resources cooperatively. The cost is assumed in its 80% by the Autonomus Community and 20% by the Universities, with a total budget of about 7 millions of euros.
2-Acquisition by University of Almeria: for the resources that we need but that are not acquired by the Consortium. In 2011 our investment for this matter was of 386.533 euros, more than 50% of our total budget. In this article we will refer to these resources.
Our Library builds its electronic resources collection according to a subject classification correspondent to the degrees and doctorates offered by the University, distributed as follows:
Table 1. Electronic resources per subject area and cost.
Table 2. Electronic resources per subject area and cost.
Table 3. Electronic resources per subject area and cost.
Table 4. Electronic resources per subject area and cost.
Table 5. Electronic resources per subject area and cost.
Table 6. Electronic resources per subject area and cost.
Table 7. Electronic resources investment per subject area.
DATA OF USE
Data are collected annually, and obtained from the vendors following the COUNTER system. The most significant statistic parameter is the number of searches and downloads per year.
Table 8. Number of searches and downloads.
The potential users of our resources are 15.251: students (Degrees, Masters and Doctorates), teachers and administration and services staff.
CATALOGUE OF INDICATORS
1. Cost per Search per Resource (only when we can obtain both data).
Table 9. Cost per Search per Resource.
2. Average cost per subject.
Table 10. Average cost per subject.
3. Cost per Download per Resource (only when we can obtain both data).
Table 11. Cost per Download per Resource.
4. Average cost per subject.
Table 12. Average cost per subject.
The cost / effectiveness is different for each resource, in terms of cost per search and cost per download. So our Library analyzes in a deeper way those resources that present a lower average. The studies are made during the year so we can make an efficient decision before building the next budget.
The actions that were carried out to evaluate the use of an electronic resource as well as the recommended bibliography for students, in order to take decisions about to these resources, will now be presented.
A case study: Portal Current Protocols
Firstly, a study case (performed during 2008) is shown over the resource Portal Current Protocols (Wiley Online Library). This resource contains the most important research methods and protocols in life Sciences. Our goal was to make a deeper asessment on it, previously to its renewal.
Our subscription included the following titles:
Current Protocols in Bioinformatics, Current Protocols in Cell Biology, Current Protocols in Cytometry, Current Protocols in Food Analytical Chemistry, Current Protocols in Human Genetics, Current Protocols in Immunology, Current Protocols in Microbiology, Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Current Protocols in Neuroscience, Current Protocols in Pharmacology, Current Protocols in Protein Science, Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology, Current Protocols in Toxicology.
Statistical data provided for the vendor were:
1- For any subscribed series, the use activity per year / month in the follwing fields:
- Abstracts Visits
- Downloaded Full Texts (HTML, PDF)
- Access Denied (Rejected accesses to non subscribed titles)
2- Total activity per year:
- Number of Sessions
- Keywords Searched
- Number of searches
- Table of Contents Searches
The analysis was performed during the period January – April 2008, 2007 and 2006. In the last column the downloads percentage over the total downloads is shown:
Table 13. Portal Current Protocols.
The titles Cell Biology, Cytometry, Immunology, Molecular Biology constitute the 86% of the total number of downloads. The rest of the titles are considered for their renewal due to low use.
The following actions were performed:
1- Our patrons were informed about the electronic resources assessment studies, in order to raise their awareness of the need of efficiency, rationalization, and optimization of our electronic collection.
2- Our potential users were informed about the assessment results, and were asked their opinions and comments about it.
3- We analyzed the resource visibility and proposed a range of action to increase its use.
4- We studied new acquisition formulas that were implemented during the period 2008-2012, with an initial cost of 35.266,84€.
In 2008 we had 14 Protocols subscriber, in 2009 we renewed only the most used 6 of them. In 2012 the full resource subscription was cancelled, with a savings of 12.152€.
Likewise, data from the reports sent to the teachers are presented. The reports are centered on the use of the recommended bibliography for their students, so they might reconsider the relevance of their bibliography or perform the suitable actions for increasing its use. Furthermore, from our web page, an application shows the number of loans per book.
Table 14. Use of the recommended bibliography.
The periodical assessment applied to human resources management
The characteristic organizational rigidity in Public Administrations causes, as an immediate consequence, that many positions with certain associated tasks become static positions over time, without having their compositions modified in terms of staffing and procedures (as the technological advances and the subsequent professional changes might recommend).
In our Library a study of workloads has been made, based on variables such as:
-Maximum Library use periods
-Maximum users influx periods
-Maximum training courses (at the Library) periods
-Maximum request and delivery of recommended bibliography periods
-Information resources competitive bidding periods.
And that analysis has given to us enough data to manage our human resources more effectively, especially in the current crisis situation, in which increasing the staff is virtually unviable. At the same time, the automation of a large number of activities carried out in the Library has allowed to us to reallocate a part of the staff for a more specialized service.
The most recent case at the Library of the University of Almería that can illustrate these adjustments in terms of tasks and people is the recent installation of a Radio Frequency System (RFID). One of the objectives that we have tried to pursue (in addition to making the tasks easier to both staff and users) has been the decreasing of the staff tasks around the transactions of loans and returns of books that, up to this moment, has been performed (if not as their only task) 12 people over 12 library opening hours, spread over morning (6 people) and afternoon (6 people) shifts.
Data on the evolution of the number of loans between 2010 and 2012 are shown below:
|University of Almeria Collection Loans
Evolution 2010 - 2012
|Year||Number of Loans||Number of Returns|
Table 15. Loans between 2010 and 2012.
Table 16. Loans between 2010 and 2012.
In 2010 our Library began to work on the implementation of a system of loans and returns self-service, installing a machine to perform these operations. Usage data of the machine between May 2010 and June 2012 didn’t give us the satisfactory results that we had expected, due to some problems about the preparation of our collections, as well as the difficulty of identification of users for the use of the machine.
It was in the summer of 2012 when we implemented a global project of radiofrequency, allowing us to have the collection ready to the auto loan machine. Also, we worked with the Information Technology Service of the University of Almería for the easy identification of users through the use of a unique key for all the services of the University. The success of this initiative is shown in the following data.
|Auto Loan Machine Use
|Year||Number of Loans||Number of Returns|
|*From May 1st|
|**From January to June|
Table 17. Auto loan machine. Evolution 2010-2012.
As we can see the loans made in a single month (November 2012) outnumbered those made between January and June of the same year, and even equaled the full number of loans of the previous year.
About the number of returns, in just one month, they equaled more than half of the returns made from January to June 2012, and more than 35% of the previous year returns. Let’s see the evolution during the year 2012:
Table 18. Auto loan machine 2012.
Table 19. Auto loan machine 2012.
After the implementation and commissioning of the RFID system, the manual loan activities have been reduced about 80%, so the freed staff time is now dedicated to other activities, as is shown below:
Table 20. Loan with RFID.
Table 21. Staff – other activities.
Obviously it is necessary to carry out a staff training plan to achieve the correct development of these new tasks. So annual training plans fully aligned with the objectives are already set out.
It is this latter concept (the establishment of objectives) that is the basis and justification of all of the aforementioned: our Library Management System relies on annual targets with a strict follow-up in terms of their compliance through periodic measurement of performance indicators.
Since 2005, the ISO 9001 Standard Library Certification has enabled us to develop a management system in which data based decision-making has become the foundation of its guidelines.
This way, the basis of our performance is our Quality Management System through Annual Quality Plans (annually audited), each one of them is segmented into three parts that make up a whole. One of theses parts, is the Improvement Plan, that includes those objectives and actions to be carried out within one year period in order to improve our working procedures.
Below we can see the 2013 objectives, actions, and the compliance measuring indicators related to electronic resources evaluation and self-service automated loan:
Table 22. Objectives 2013.
As a conclusion we may outline that what is essential is the exhaustive knowledge of the activities and data use that are generated in the Library, in order to make more appropriate decisions, which may be consistent with the objectives set by the Institution, and provided with criteria of efficiency in order to provide a qualified service.
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Informacja o autorach:
Encarna Fuentes Melero – library director, Library of the University of Almeria (Spain), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mila Cascajares Rupérez – chief of Area of Library Services, Library of the University of Almeria (Spain), e-mail: email@example.com.
Belén Fornovi Rodríguez – manager of Research Support, Library of the University of Almeria (Spain), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mª Carmen Pérez Agudo – chief of Area of Planning and Projects, Library of the University of Almeria (Spain), e-mail: email@example.com.
Jak nas cytować:
Fuentes-Melero Encarna, Cascajares-Rupérez Mila, Fornovi-Rodríguez Belén, Pérez-Agudo Mª Carmen, Rationalization of the investment on information resources in libraries: a case study at the Library of the University of Almeria (Spain), „Biblioteka i Edukacja”, [online], 2013, nr 3. Dostępny w World Wide Web: http://www.bg.up.krakow.pl/bie/?p=2075
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