Analysis of the Journals workflow
Having analysed the workflows of the main processes of the Acquisitions team we felt it would be beneficial to carry out the same exercise for the E-Resources and Journals team. We decided to look at the workflow of the main processes in lifecycle of a journal – the selection of a new e-journal and the renewal of an e-journal. It is possible to identify a number of issues within these processes where efficiencies could be made and as such need to be considered by the developers of KB+ and a next generation library and web-scale management system.
As demonstrated in the workflow above, at the moment, the initial identification of a new journal title to be taken is by the Librarian requesting a new journal title to be ordered. However, with the development and implementation of MyReading project it is important that we consider how we will identify journal titles which academics have indicated contain relevant material for the students, which we currently do not subscribe to. At the moment, during the first year of the implementation of MyReading colleagues are going through the lists and checking them against our holdings manually. Not only is this time consuming but it also has a high risk of error. It was suggested that it may be possible to create an automated alert so that when a journal appears on a reading list, which we do not have access to, the team are alerted to look in to purchasing access.
Before subscribing to a journal, the team carry out an evaluation process on the proposed title. This data is then passed back to the Librarian and allows them to make an informed decision. The information that is collected by the team is outlined in the workflow above and includes the fourteen deal breakers outlined and recommended by the TERMS project as elements of the journal to be considered in best practice for the selection of e-resources (please see the TERMS wiki for more information https://library.hud.ac.uk/wikiterms/Main_Page).
It is very time consuming collecting all this information from different places and it was suggested that the reporting feature on KB+ could be developed further to include more of the information that is used to evaluate the resource. Although the reporting feature currently looks at some of this information, such as licence criteria, it was wondered if this could be enlarged to include the criteria recommended as best practice by TERMS.
However, although these points are important for the institution to consider before entering into an agreement they are less of a concern if the resource has appeared on a reading list or the request is a result of specific research funding. In these case the new journal title request would by-passes much of the evaluation stage, although given the current monetary constraints on the journal budget it may mean that the ordering of a new title requires the cancellation of another – and for this to happen, some evaluation must take place.
Purchasing and Renewal
The team currently complete paper requisition forms which are passed to the Acquisitions Team to raise an order on Agresso. Once this order has been approved the order is placed with the subscription agent/publisher and they are given the purchase order number. Details of the order, such as the order number and price, are also entered onto a spreadsheet. The inputting of the information on paper requisitions, into Agresso and onto a spreadsheet ensures that work is duplicated and heightens the risk of error. Therefore we would ideally like a punch-out system from the Agresso eMarketplace to Swets, JISC Collections and other subscription agents and publishers. This would create efficiencies and reduce the risk of error. Any of the additional information that is recorded on the spreadsheet relating to the journal title could be recorded in the note field of the journal on KB+. This process could also be used to purchase the renewal subscriptions that occur every year.
As laid out in the TERMS project best practice, the renewal process starts with an intelligence gathering stage. Data, such as communications with vendors/publishers, periods of downtime and user feedback should be collected throughout the year and recorded in a consistent manner. KB+ and 360 Resource Manager offer the facility to be able to record this information in a consistent place and manner and it is encouraged that this is utilised. KB+ also offers the additional feature of a community forum which allows the librarians throughout the country to add and discuss issues with vendors, user feedback and downtime with other colleagues.
Other considerations are if the title is on a reading list and if the need for a specific journal title through specific research funding has ceased.
While a section of the renewals process has been greatly helped by the ‘renewals’ feature within KB+, which creates an easy to understand comparison spreadsheet, we feel that some information that is pertinent to the renewals process is missing from the comparison spreadsheet (see our previous blog post). In addition we need information on the % price increase, which won’t be available from KB+. We would like to investigate the possibility of creating these reports on Agresso, however, this would mean radically changing the workflow.
The final step in the renewals process, to check the access at the beginning of the subscription period, is currently done manually and is time intensive and open to error. An automated check of all the links alerting us to any links that are not working or current would be advantageous
Having studied the two main workflows for the E-Resources and Journals team it is clear that they are complex and time-consuming processes that require attention to detail. As such there is only so much automation can do to create efficiencies and therefore it is crucial that KB+ and a new next generation library and web-scale management systems such as Intota consider and develop the areas where efficiencies can be made.