by Ashley Fast Bailey (Director, Collection Development and Workflow Solutions Central U.S., GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO)
Column Editor: Michael A. Arthur (Associate Professor, Head, Resource Acquisition & Discovery, The University of Alabama Libraries, Box 870266, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487; Phone: 205-348-1493; Fax: 205-348-6358)
Column Editor’s Note: In this issue of Being Earnest with Collections, readers will get the perspective of a librarian working for a library services provider. I have worked with Ashley Bailey on a number of projects related to collection development as we have transformed our monograph operations. Moving from a large approval plan profile toward an almost complete reliance on demand driven acquisitions, Ashley provided guidance and detailed reporting that resulted in an efficient transition to DDA. Now, as we reach year two, the DDA program has benefitted from several changes to profiling and EBSCO enhancements designed to improve the user experience and help us manage the overall process. I am grateful to Ashley for the great customer service she has provided. I believe ATG readers will enjoy her perspective on how a library services vendor can help libraries build collections that meet the needs of students and faculty. — MA
When I graduated from library school, I didn’t take a job at an academic library. My first job as a librarian was as a Collection Development Manager with what was then YBP Library Services, now GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO. Over the last decade I have worked on the vendor side of the library world, partnering and working alongside my colleagues in academic libraries to make collection development and the collections aspect of library workflows as efficient and effective as they can be for the needs of their library. As I embarked on my professional career, I dove head first into learning all I could about collections needs on the library side, as well as what that entails from the vendor side. As a librarian, I work to meld the two together to help create efficient and effective workflows for libraries. Being a librarian on the vendor side requires the wearing of multiple hats, just as librarians wear many different hats in the academic library. My goal is to ensure that the work I do creates better workflows, more effective ways to discover and acquire content, and more efficient ways to complete the monograph acquisitions process.
The key to my work with libraries is the consultation process. No two libraries are alike. Each has its own challenges and specific set of needs. While many can be similar, just like snowflakes, no two are identical. There is, however, an overarching set of tools that a library can employ to make their monograph collections process most efficient and streamlined. It’s my role to make sure that each library I work with understands those options and how to leverage the acquisitions, technical services, and workflow support we provide in the way that fits their unique needs.
Central to our work are Approval Profiles, a mechanism that allows for an automatic shipment of books or notification slips, based on a press list, set of Non-Subject Parameters, and LC Class specifications set to meet a library’s needs. A library can use an Approval Profile to bring in automatic shipments, electronic notification slips, or underpin a Demand Driven Acquisitions Program (DDA). This is a key part of the monographic acquisitions process on the vendor side. No two Approval Profiles are the same. By consulting, listening, and using the knowledge and experience I have with GOBI’s profiles, I can work with a library to make sure their collection development areas are covered in a way that meets their library’s goals by surfacing the specific content that addresses their profile requirements while filtering out content that’s not relevant for their needs. This vetted content is then made available to the library through the automatic shipment of core materials, and/or through notification slips of newly published content. In addition, core content can automatically be sent to a library to ensure the most efficient way of delivering that needed content.
Many librarians think automatic shipment approvals are only for large libraries, but that is not the case. A profile can bring in core content from a very targeted set of publishers or specific LC Classes, or it can employ a very broad set of guidelines to bring in thousands of books on an annual basis. For example, a community college can craft a profile to bring in core undergraduate materials that are very practical in nature to meet the needs of their users, or a large library can set up a broader set up parameters to allow for automatic shipments of the core materials for their undergraduate user base, in addition to materials needed by their graduate level researchers. A well-written profile can serve the library well and allow for librarians to focus on other priorities. It is a big part of our role on the vendor side to aid in this process. We are here to help make selectors’ jobs easier, freeing those librarians up to work on projects and services they would not be able to focus on otherwise. By working with librarians to keep their profiles relevant and up to date, the partnership between vendor and library is a valuable one. Bringing in content automatically and providing a stream of relevant new titles to review via the notifications slips, the vendor’s approval profile saves librarians time and brings awareness to a universe of relevant content they might not otherwise discover.
Beyond Approval Profiles, part of my role involves working with libraries to keep them informed of industry changes and discuss ways to adjust and enhance their collection development strategy. For instance, there are niche aspects of collection development that fall into the realm of profiling, such as DDA (Demand-Driven Acquisition). While DDA doesn’t work for every library, a DDA program takes a subset of content and moves it into a pool of titles for patrons to discover and use. The library then incurs charges based on use. Many libraries aren’t aware that the books made available via a DDA model represent a relatively small percentage of the overall universe of scholarly publishing, so relying exclusively on this model will result in gaps in a library’s collection. The Approval Profile can underpin this process. The Approval Profile allows the DDA model to work in tandem with an auto-shipment and notification slip plan providing libraries with a well-rounded collection development strategy. With this seemingly ever-changing model and other models being made available to libraries, an important part of my partnership with a library is to make sure they are informed of changes so their profile can evolve with the shifting landscape.
Aside from acquisitions, libraries lean on vendors to provide additional workflow support. This includes both selection and ordering support, but also shelf ready services and invoicing efficiencies. Once a book is profiled and allocated against an Approval Plan, a library can receive an automatic shipment or firm order that title (print or eBook). The ordering process is streamlined via GOBI and there are pieces of the technical services end that can aid in efficiencies. For instance, Electronic Order Confirmation Records (EOCRs) for firm orders can save valuable staff time entering order records when using this service. Upon shipment, a print or eBook MARC Record can be provided. This would overlay the EOCR and allow for staff to check in a title more quickly by allowing valuable order data to carry over from the vendor system into this record. It makes the receiving process of a print book much more efficient and provides a vendor specific MARC record that contains library local practices for eBooks. When a title is invoiced, physical processing (full shelf ready or partial shelf ready) can add in the speed that a book gets to the library shelf. EDI invoicing, also known as Electronic Invoicing, provides the final purchase data needed for a library’s ILS, making the process of ordering a monograph from start to finish as efficient as possible.
A library can make the back end of their acquisitions workflow more efficient by taking advantage of these value-added services. While these services can often bring real fiscal saving to libraries, quite often the opportunity costs that these services eliminate are a key driver for libraries. These support services allow staff to focus on those tasks that cannot be outsourced, ranging from the processing of special collections materials to the provisioning of metadata services. Exactly which services a library may want or need to employ will vary based on their individual circumstances. My role is to work with libraries to identify the options and services that best align with their libraries’ needs.
After spending the first eight years of my career working directly with specific libraries on their individual plans, I now lead a team of Collection Development Managers in crafting solutions for the libraries in our territory. From this vantage point, I have an even greater appreciation for the importance of the librarian/vendor relationship. As a librarian, I see how consulting with your vendor partners can lead to developing collaborative collection development solutions. As a librarian who has worked on the vendor side for the last ten years, I have seen the myriad of ways a vendor can bring greater efficiency to libraries of all shapes and sizes. From both angles, the mission remains the same — we are all working toward the same goal of ensuring library users have access to the quality materials they need.