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Friday, June 7 • 3:15pm - 4:15pm
Connections of Evidence: Using Best Practices of Assessment in an Ongoing Serials Analysis Project

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Making decisions about continuing or cancelling serials subscriptions is a difficult process under the best of circumstances. The worst of circumstances are those under which most academic libraries operate today: shrinking acquisitions budgets; continuously rising subscription costs; balancing a need for access and an equally pressing need for preservation of information in a variety of formats. In these situations, academic librarians can borrow from best practices of assessment in terms of gathering data, examining emergent patterns, comparing quantitative research and qualitative feedback, closing the loop by making changes, and then preparing to re-evaluate these changes. In this presentation, a case study from an academic library at a state university in the Midwest will be showcased as a model of assessment’s best practices in determining the future of print and online periodical subscriptions. In Summer 2016, The Emporia (KS) State University Libraries and Archives, or ULA, embarked upon a wholescale study of its individual periodical subscriptions via EBSCO. The last time that ULA had performed such an analysis was in the spring of 2007. In the intervening nine years, much had changed with improved full-text journal articles through online databases, Google Scholar, open access journals, and institutional repositories. ESU faculty and student needs had also evolved in terms of distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and an increasingly non-traditional student population dependent upon immediate, 24/7 access to information. Our study began in 2016 with a close examination first of our EBSCO electronic periodical subscriptions. Usage statistics of each EBSCO online periodical’s full-text retrievals were gathered from EBSCOHost EJS (Electronic Journals Service). These were combined with Project COUNTER-compliant usage statistics of JR1, Number of Full-Text Article Requests by Month and Journal, which were generated directly from the publishers’ websites of journals identified as also having direct access through our library’s journals linking pages. Cost per full-text article retrieval was then generated for these online periodicals, and any concurrent full-text access of each periodical through one or more electronic research databases was documented along with any publishers’ embargos. For the print EBSCO periodical subscriptions, we also examined any overlap with full-text access to these serials in databases. Finally, we identified the online periodical subscriptions whose access was through a single-user login and password, flagging those titles as anomalies in usage statistics because of the limitations. All this information was placed into a Google spreadsheet to be shared among the ULA librarians for their feedback. Based upon the quantitative numbers of usage statistics and cost per full-text retrieval and combined with the librarians’ qualitative knowledge of academic departments’ research and curriculum needs, a number of EBSCO periodical subscriptions were cancelled in Fall 2016 with minimum impact upon patrons’ immediate access to articles. This initial assessment in terms of “closing the loop” continued in 2017 and 2018, expanded to include subscriptions to electronic journals packages from ScienceDirect, the American Chemical Society, and Emerald Insight. The result of this assessment is an updated, refocused serials collection that truly reflects essential support of learning and research outcomes.

avatar for Cynthia Kane

Cynthia Kane

Professor / Instruction and Assessment Librarian, Emporia State University Libraries and Archives, Emporia, KS

Friday June 7, 2019 3:15pm - 4:15pm EDT
Grand Ballroom - 17th Floor