How might public flagships meet some of their most pressing challenges? Earlier this month, Ithaka S+R completed a study on behalf of Lumina Foundation to understand the growing but contested role of technology-enhanced education at these universities. In this issue brief, Deanna Marcum, Ithaka S+R's Managing Director, offers an abbreviated look at the study's findings on how public flagships are addressing the need to increase access to education, contain costs, improve student learning outcomes, and increase institutional efficiency.
Helping users find content is one of the fundamental services that academic libraries have historically provided. As we have tracked in the Ithaka S+R survey of library deans and directors, it is also an area where there have been important and fast-moving changes. In the 2010 survey, library directors saw discovery as an area for increased investment, and many libraries subsequently put money into new-to-the-market index-based discovery services that promised to bring their collections together into a single search tool. Discovery services, now common, are seen by respondents as a modest success in many respects, though their impact on users is hard to judge. But there are hints that the way that directors look at discovery issues has started to undergo some broader changes. The 2013 survey pointed to the possibility that going forward directors will place less emphasis on making their libraries a “starting point” for researchers.
Discovery as a Budget Priority and Discovery Services
Discovery was seen as an important area for investment in 2010, when 41% of respondents said that they would invest an additional 10% budget windfall in tools for discovery—the tools on the market included EBSCO Discovery Service, Primo, Summon, and WorldCat Local. Many libraries undoubtedly invested in these services in the intervening years, and in 2013, 73% of respondents said that they had implemented one at their library.
In the US Library Survey 2013, discovery appears to have largely dropped off as an area for future investment. In a question very similar to the 2010 question about how library directors would spend a 10% windfall, only 16% of respondents in 2013 said that they would invest the additional money in tools for discovery. This decrease may reflect the shrinking pool of libraries that have not already started using a discovery service. This does not necessarily mean that library directors feel that they have “solved” discovery, but in the wake of major investments in new tools, they appear inclined to direct any marginal funds toward other priorities.
Have discovery services lived up to their promise? In an effort to explore this issue in more detail, we asked library directors how satisfied they were with their discovery services’ ability to help users in a variety of scenarios. Respondents reported that they had seen improvements of most aspects of discovery at their libraries, more in some areas than in others. Many respondents reported high satisfaction with discovery services’ ability to “help users find new items they do not know about” and “facilitate linking to online resources that my library licenses,” with 78% and 74% of directors with discovery services saying that they had seen major improvements in each of these areas, respectively. They were less satisfied with other aspects of these services, such as their ability to help experienced users, with only 27% of respondents reporting that their discovery services improved their ability to “help users find items they already know about”. (See figure 35 in the report for more details on how respondents assess the value in their discovery services.)
The Library as a Starting Point
Why have libraries made these investments in discovery services? The data suggest that one cause may be a desire to serve, or at least be seen as serving, as users’ “starting point” for research. In the survey results, directors who think that discovery is an important priority for their libraries are those who are also most concerned with promoting their library as patrons’ primary starting point for research. There is a strong positive correlation between a high rating for the “gateway” role of the library and strong agreement with the statement “It is strategically important that my library be seen by its users as the first place that they go to discover scholarly content.” (Interestingly, respondents who rated the gateway role highly or agreed strongly with this statement were no more or less likely than their peers to have implemented discovery services.)
However, there are some indications in the 2013 survey responses that directors might be focusing less on making their library a starting point for discovery. In 2013, 78% of library directors agreed with the statement quoted in the paragraph above, down from 84% in 2010. This decline was consistent across all types of institutions. Respondents may be moving to some degree toward alternative discovery strategies that focus on different aspects of the research process. As one respondent wrote, “I don't want to presume that all patrons should begin with us... and that if they don't, we've somehow ‘failed.’ After all, isn't the outcome more important than the path traversed?”
Being a “starting point” is just one aspect of the role that libraries can play in discovery, and the data from the 2013 survey may indicate that library directors are starting to reshape their thinking about discovery to focus more on other discovery-related goals. Given the important shifts in user behaviors and the tradeoffs that library leaders face in terms of strategy, it will be very important to continue tracking these items to see if directors’ thinking continues to evolve. We will next survey library directors nationally in 2016.
It's grant season. That means researchers from universities, libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions are competing to secure funding for innovative digital resources. But potential funders want more than just interesting ideas—they want evidence that projects will continue to deliver value well after their creation. Do you have a plan for ensuring your project’s sustainability?
Join Ithaka S+R for a one-hour webinar on the basics of building a sustainability plan. You will learn:
- What a sustainability plan includes and how it is different from a data management plan.
- How to think about life “post-grant” even before your grant has been awarded!
- What you need to know now, and where it's OK to guess.
- The top three pitfalls to avoid when writing your plan.
Who Should Attend:
Digital project leaders from all sectors of higher education and cultural heritage organizations, including:
- Digital humanists
- Curators and other museum staff
Date and Time:
Friday, April 25
Noon-1:00 p.m. (EDT)
Group registration (two or more people logging in from a single access point)—$140
How to Register:
To register, complete the online registration form.
About Ithaka S+R and Sustainability
Supporting digital project leaders is at the heart of Ithaka S+R’s mission and draws on the expertise our group has developed over years of advising those who create successful digital projects.
Our research reports are all freely available online. Yet we realize that it is not always easy to translate reports into action. This webinar is designed to introduce project leaders to the techniques we have studied and use ourselves when working with clients.
Please contact Kimberly Lutz at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about registering.
At the end of March, OCLC Research, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), and Ohio State University, hosted a very interesting symposium on print collections management. The symposium’s focus was on how collections of print books might be more effectively managed given changing usage patterns and needs for print books, and changing priorities for the allocation of library spaces.
The symposium’s jumping-off point was a new research report by Brian Lavoie and Constance Malpas, which analyzes Ohio State University’s print book holdings and usage patterns in the context of the overall CIC universities. The report explores “what portions of the local print book collection can be more efficiently managed ‘above the institution,’ and which should be managed locally?” It points to the necessity to select the right scale of collaboration in order to achieve the greatest benefits from collaboration in managing print book collections, an excellent follow-on to an earlier work on regional print collections management by the same team. OCLC Research’s sustained attention to the question of the best types of collaborations for print book collections is an important asset in community planning on these issues.
Other speakers framed out some of the basic issues facing the library community and options that might be considered. Mark Sandler emphasized that the CIC’s library directors wish to “substantially” reduce the footprint of their print book collections. Emily Stambaugh proposed that the library community could adopt logistics practices such as those utilized by Amazon and Netflix for warehousing and delivery of print books. Gwen Evans of OhioLink talked about the opportunities for her consortium’s members to expand the materials available to their users while saving their time in fulfilling resource requests.
I was asked to speak later in the program about what user needs may tell us about the prospects for a print to electronic transition for books, a topic I covered a few months ago in the Ithaka S+R issue brief, Stop the Presses: Is the monograph headed toward an e-only future? In my view, we need to think about print collections management and shared print in the context of the future of the book and reading. The evidence suggests that we are currently in a dual-format environment, at least in terms of faculty member preferences for monographs: they prefer e-versions for some use cases, but the codex is generally preferred for long-form reading (see Figure 14 in the US Faculty Survey 2012 and Figure 16 in the UK Survey of Academics 2012).
Since print is still seen to be needed for purposes that go well beyond preservation, I suggested two basic approaches that the collections management and shared print communities can consider:
- First, to build sharing networks for print materials that are more robust than ever before imagined, with Amazon/Netflix style logistics for warehousing and delivery, to ensure near-immediate delivery of the codex when needed for reading purposes. This approach would allow books collections to be “managed down,” albeit perhaps without the same space-reducing impact, or user satisfaction, that we have seen to date for journals.
- Alternatively, we could identify long-form reading in digital form as the key challenge, both for readers and for collections alike. In this scenario, we would study systematically the apparently rather serious problems facing academics in long form reading of ebooks, especially through library provided channels. We would work to develop solutions with existing ebooks platforms and channels – or determine that the challenges are intractable.
I closed by emphasizing two potential outcomes. If long-form reading of ebooks, and other challenges, are in fact intractable, then we might need to manage a dual-format environment at least for scholarly books indefinitely. If on the other hand, and as I believe but we do not yet know, they are transitional, we have a slightly different kind of problem. Resource expenditures to optimize print collections and logistics infrastructure would not be wise. Rather, our primary concern should be with how to improve our ability to serve user needs in an emerging digital book environment.
I was honored to be included in this symposium and hope that it helps the library community to consider the future of the book and how best to ensure its accessibility and preservation for years to come.
A Guide to the Best Revenue Models and Funding Sources for your Digital Resources
Published March 27, 2014
There are fewer barriers than ever before for those who wish to build something on the web, whether an online journal, a website with tools for teaching, or a digitized collection of rare and unique materials. Yet, no matter who creates these resources or how they were initially funded, there are substantial costs involved in keeping digital resources up and running for the long term while continuing to deliver value to those who use them.
With the support of the Jisc-led Strategic Content Alliance (SCA), Ithaka S+R has developed A Guide to the Best Revenue Models and Funding Sources for your Digital Resources to support those who are actively maintaining digital projects and are seeking to develop funding models that will permit them to continue investing in their projects, for the benefit of their users, over time.
This report updates Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources (2008) in two major ways. First, we have expanded the list of revenue models covered in order to take into account emerging models, highlighting those methods that are compatible with open access. Second, the report places the notion of “revenue generation” in the context of the fuller range of funding activities we have observed in higher education and the cultural sector. In addition to practices more often seen in the commercial world like advertising and corporate sponsorships, the report devotes time to discussions of a range of philanthropic sources of support as well as support offered by host institutions.
For each revenue model and funding source covered in the guide, we provide an overview, case studies, and current trends. The guide also explores which types of projects are best suited to specific models, allowing project leaders to quickly determine which methods fit with their needs. We hope that the greatest value of this guide and its articles will be as a framework, a starting point to encourage project leaders to develop new ideas for supporting their work, before gathering the most current data and actively testing these ideas against the specific circumstances of their projects and their audiences.
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With generous funding from the Jisc-led Strategic Content Alliance (SCA), Ithaka S+R has developed A Guide to the Best Revenue Models and Funding Sources for Your Digital Resources. The report will support project leaders who are actively maintaining digital resources—and who seek funding models that support continued investment in their projects for the benefit of their users, over time.
The world of digital creation has moved beyond major research institutions. It now includes museums, small historical societies, and local archives, and there are fewer barriers than ever before for those who wish to build new resources.
Yet no matter who creates these resources, or how they were initially funded, there are substantial costs involved in keeping them up and running for the long term while delivering value to users.
This guide presents 11 models for digital project leaders to consider when planning for their resources' growth and preservation. Most models are compatible with open access, and examples are designed to help readers quickly determine which methods best suit their projects' needs. We hope the guide is most valued as a framework—a starting point for leaders to use in developing new ideas, before gathering data and actively testing these ideas against their specific projects and audiences.
To learn more, please download the report from our website.
What role might librarians play in building the 21st Century research university? How can librarians effectively assess the impact of the expertise, services, and resources they deliver to the academic community? In our latest issue brief, Anne Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University, explores how librarians can leverage the liaison model to demonstrate “that the library is more than a purveyor of content and that its expertise is an essential component of the academic knowledge infrastructure on and off campus.”
Around 18 months ago, Ithaka S+R and the University System of Maryland set out to explore how MOOCs could be used in campus-based settings to improve learning outcomes and/or reduce costs. With the support of Coursera and permission from selected partners, we tested the use of MOOCs in 15 courses at seven institutions. This poster focuses on some early findings on how Maryland faculty found the experience of teaching with MOOCs.
Roger Schonfeld will present on the results of the US Library Survey 2013 at the CNI Spring Membership Meeting in St. Louis.
What strategic directions are academic library leaders pursuing for their organizations? What benefits and constraints do reporting relationships, funding, and staffing, pose for leaders in trying to execute on their vision? What strategic roles do leaders envision for their libraries in key areas such as discovery, information literacy, library publishing, and the development of research collections?
In our recent report on the 2013 US Library Survey, we noted that faculty members and library directors have different views on the role librarians play in information literacy education. Seventy-two percent of library directors agreed with the statement “Developing the research skills of undergraduate students related to locating and evaluating scholarly information is principally my library’s responsibility,” compared with just 22% of faculty.
This is an area where participants in our local faculty survey have paid special attention to see how faculty attitudes may differ on their campuses from the national norms. For instance, at Swarthmore, where College Librarian Peggy Seiden reports that new subject librarian hires have made significant inroads in their outreach to departments and through their instruction, faculty do see educating students as an important function of the library.