The Acquisitions workflow, Intota and Dawson Books

We recently met with Dawson Books to discuss our current acquisitions workflows (see our workflows blog posts), our ideal workflows and their implications for Intota, the Acquisitions team at Huddersfield and Dawson Books.

We began by discussing the information that would need to be provided by Dawson Books via Intota in order for us to make an informed decision on the items we would be purchasing. The details that we would ideally like to be visible are the:

  • format of the item
  • supplier
  • estimated delivery date
  • price

The actual price we would like to see would not be the list price, it would need to be the overall cost of the item including the servicing, delivery, vat and discount. However, at a later stage we would also want to know the price broken down in order to assign the costs to different budgets, at Huddersfield we pay for shelf ready processing costs out of a different budget to the actual book itself.

For e-books the following additional information would be required:

  • licence information
  • access criteria (how many users can have access, other options for more users)
  • purchase module (outright, credit based, availability as subscription through a collection)

Dawson Books confirmed that they would be able to supply all of this information; however, Intota would need to find a standard way of displaying the data from all of the different suppliers.

National Book Contract

Adherence to the National Book Contract was raised as an issue at this stage as we would only want to see information about the suppliers we had a contract with. Therefore it was suggested that Intota would need a series of default settings which can be amended by libraries to ensure that if the book is available from any of the chosen suppliers they are shown immediately and the search is only widened if there are no results from the chosen suppliers or the library manually chooses to widen it.

Ordering

We then looked at the ordering process; one suggestion was to automate the whole process, perhaps creating a profile for each Librarian defaulting to specific loan types, etc. Unfortunately this would not be possible for individual orders at Huddersfield because there are too many variations. However, it is hoped that once our MyReading project is fully developed there will be formulae which will automatically create orders rather than going to the subject teams for approval and thus making efficiencies in the workflow (see previous blog Patron-Driven Acquisition for more information).      

Book reports

Book reports are currently supplied by Dawson Books to us via EDI or email and with the exception of cancellations very little is done with them. Dawson Books thought that it would be possible to supply this information directly to Intota via a feed. It was then suggested that these feeds could appear on a dashboard on the homepage of an individual alongside reports from all the suppliers. Due to the number of reports received it was decided that this would need to be customised to individuals so that the reports would only go to the relevant people, this led to the suggestion that reports from all suppliers would go directly to the relevant people based on the fund codes the items/resources are paid from. Further to this it was suggested that the reports would need to go to more than one person as this may cause problems during periods of absence. While discussing the idea of a dashboard on individuals homepages it was also suggested that a general overview could be presented when they log in, for example a graph could be used to show projected spend against actual spend and there could be detail on the amounts left in the budget, committed and spent visible when the individual immediately logs on. It was thought that because the information is more visible it may make the budget easier to manage and may help stabilise spend throughout the year. In addition longer reports would need to be exported as a csv file from Intota so that we could use it for other purposes if required, custom and standard reports would also need to be displayed on screen in html (or appropriate format) if a quick check of the figures was all that was required.

MARC records

The discussion then turned to the importing of MARC records. At Huddersfield we currently import our MARC records when we receive the books on to the system and pay Dawson Books. However, it is thought that with Intota we will be able to pull the records from the cloud at the time of order. While this will potentially save HEIs money as we will no longer paying the supplier for them as our access to the records will be part of the subscription to Intota. Dawson Books highlighted the possibility of poor records. Although it was acknowledged that the majority of the records would be of a high standard it was brought to our attention that books purchased pre-publication and e-books often have poor quality records. Something for Serial Solutions to consider when developing Intota?

e-books

This naturally turned our attention towards e-books; it currently around 48 hours after ordering for the record and link to become available on the catalogue.  With users expecting instantaneous access to e-books through Amazon and I-Tunes, this immediate access, alongside real-time invoicing, must be available to HE institutions through Intota. Dawson Books explained that one of the main reasons for the delay in the access to the book was the creation of the catalogue record, upon which it was suggested that with the implementation of Intota such a record may not be needed. If the front end of Intota is Summon, surely this will remove the need of a catalogue record as it will only need to be switched on in the Knowledge Base and be searchable through Summon?

Payments and our financial system

At Huddersfield we have moved to credit card payment for book orders rather than the traditional purchase order route – we would be interested to know if anyone else does this? We had a discussion about the interaction that would be required between us, Dawson Books, Intota and our financial system, Agresso, in order for the process to run smoothly and create efficiencies.

It is hoped that Intota will be able to work with Agresso and that during the ordering process we will be able to assign a Cost Centre and Nominal to each purchase which will then be visible in Intota and Agresso. Following on from this, we wondered if, after all the items on a delivery note/invoice had been received either manually or via RFID on Intota, it would be possible to send a notification Dawson Books via Intota instructing them to take payment from our credit card. If it were possible for each credit card transaction pulled in by Agresso to retain the Cost Centre and Nominal information input during the ordering process it would fully automate the payment system and significantly reduce the amount of work. However, although we use the credit card to pay it was acknowledged that other HEIs use purchase orders; therefore we turned our discussion to the payment by purchase order workflow. Similarly it was thought that if a notification could be sent to Agresso delivering the items on a purchase order, after they had been received on Intota, once the invoice was input in to the system by the Finance department, Agresso could immediately pay the invoice by BACs.

Out of print books

It was agreed that a more efficient way of ordering and supplying out of print items must be found.  There are a number of issues surrounding the order and supply of out of print items through the library’s approved book suppliers such:

  • out of print items not always being listed on the book supplier’s database, even though in a number of cases they are able to obtain them
  • if the items do appear, there can be inadequate information and sometimes no price
  • the cost of these items can be a lot more expensive
  • the speed of supply can often be a lot slower
  • the current process generally leads to confusion amongst the subject teams as to the best place to obtain the item from, which often means lots of emails/phone calls between subject teams, Acquisitions team and Dawson Books.

One suggestion was a two tiered ordering system whereby if we were to find a copy with an out of print distributor through Intota (via an out of print supplier option?) we could select to purchase that option but then request that it be processed by Dawson Books. While it was agreed that this was a good idea we were unsure how it would work in practice, for example, how would Dawson Books receive and purchase the item from the Out of Print distributor, and agreed that further discussion would be needed if we were to pursue this.

Additional features

Finally, we looked at some additional features that would be helpful for HEIs and whether it would be possible to incorporate these into Intota direct from the book suppliers. The first item mentioned was the possibility of being able to see if an item you are considering is already on order, had been previously supplied or is currently sat in a basket for your institution. Dawson Books confirmed that this information would be able to be supplied to Intota and that Serial Solutions would need to find a way of displaying this information.

On a similar theme the possibility of a reporting feature, which could remember what you had searched for was discussed and thought to be advantageous. For example, if you had looked for a number of e-books within a collection (publisher or aggregated) it was hoped that the system would be able to notify you and recommend that you purchase the collection. Following on from this, the possibility of e-books working like JISC Collections database deals was considered, whereby if you buy a database and part way through the subscription it becomes part of a national deal, you are credited with the difference to pay on the old subscription. Could e-books and national deals work in a similar way – could you get a discount from a nationally negotiated e-books deal if you had already purchased a number of titles outright, and could Intota provide this information at the point of need – possibly listing those national deals in the drop down of suppliers? Something for KB+ and JISC Collections to look into further perhaps?