Monday, January 19, 2009

Adding to the Get It picture - a chart...

Great question about the graph Jennifer, so here is a snippet of detail to add...

What this shows only 5 titles from the graph, but should illustrate a few points of what we are discussing about sense-making with ILL and acquisitions.

For the titles "A pilgrimage to Kashi" and "Contemporary Indian writings" the cost to purchase and borrow are close enough to purchase, but more importantly, the # of libraries in Worldcat that hold the title are below 10. Acquiring these titles would diversify the collection and meet our user's needs - irrespective of various other selection factors; publisher, LC#, etc.

For the title "Blood and honour" the economic reason is simple, $5.99 to buy, or $25 to borrow - no brainer - twice. Actually, it's $5.97 new and $0.01 used depending on the edition. So, this one is a worth purchasing, but may or may not be worth collecting. The Library can decide, if shelf space is more important than this popular (Amazon reviews are very high for this title), than the Library decides either to give it to the user (and save lots of money over borrowing it - treating it like a copy), or to discard it to Better World Book, B-Logistics, etc. and maybe get some money back from re-selling the title.

"Confederate Catholics at war" may be an opportunity to acquire if it's in the LC# range we want to grow in, and an opportunity that is supported by 2 of our researchers, however, this one depends on collection building profiles - which ideally are machine readable.

Lastly there is "Classic garden structures", which just for the cost is worth buying, and because I love gardening (hate weeding though), I think we should acquire it and shared it with the three people who requested it.

Hope this chart and this helps illustrate some of the factors worth exploring as new workflow and user interface design of the Get It System. Appreciate hearing your suggestions as well - please post a comment; thanks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Get It System: sense-making design thoughts

Gave a few presentations recently on the topic of Interlibrary Loan and Acquisitions, or rather, Get It - What increasingly makes sense is to change the operational assumptions we make about how library's process ILL requests. While resource sharing continues to be a very cost effective way to handle requests for materials not owned by the local library, the real costs of borrowing sometimes exceeds the cost of acquiring. This is especially evident when real costs are applied, i.e. lending charges, copyright royalty fees, this makes purchasing alternatives such as books (from Internet book markets) or articles (from publishers) a great strategy. This graph shows some real cost of ILL for book titles borrowed by Geneseo, where lending libraries charged fees (rent) for books, juxtaposed with Amazon prices and sorted by the number of libraries (in green) holding the title. These are just three important variables within the design requirements needed for a Get It system, a next generation ILL/Acquisition system.

For anyone curious about some of the titles in the graph, here are a few examples that may be of interest...

So, what I am sharing is a bit of the fun realities that happen when processing requests to borrow items users ask for.

I could also show how many articles that are borrowed, which may cost $10-15 because of lending charges, plus the cost of paying royalty fees of about $30 per article, exceed the cost to buy the article directly from the publisher... but for this post, I want to stick with books...

When the price of new and used books is lower than the cost to borrow, it makes sense to buy the item - depending on the strategies that makes sense to your library, i.e., I may want to buy books that are under $30 and held at fewer than 10 libraries in Worldcat, etc. In fact, we can all think of lots of strategies that would make sense for this design; Desirable LC#, Publisher, all the fun knowns - please post replies with your favorites.

To make these variables useful and valuable, the Get It System could learn from a useful tool called Book Burro:

Example of how it searches a highlighted ISBN on any website in Firefox and provides an elegant and useful result set.

While these are a few thoughts about the future of a Get It System, the design requirement phase is underway, so any suggestions are very welcome.
Why is this so important?
One reason: What is increasingly evident is that library monograph budgets are in steep decline, which leads borrowing activities to increasingly request materials outside their cool and free friendly library groups, to libraries that charge lending, I mean rental fees. By getting it if it costs (and makes sense), the cost-benefit is that you fulfill the user's request and diversify your library groups holdings. I promise to fill in lots of blanks here, but that is the short answer to what the heck is a Get It System, much more later - comments and suggestions are very welcome. Best wishes.