Report on JUSP, KB+ and Intota Assessment

Last year we blogged about an internal report we did on our assessment of JUSP, KB+ and Intota Assessment. At the time we shared the report with the 3 resources and have already seen a number of recommendations being adopted.

We thought that the report might be useful for other universities looking at how best to use the 3 resources in conjunction, our view is that with a little development all 3 are essential to our workflows 🙂

For more information, here is the Report

JISC HIKE Project Workshop – 26th February

Dave Pattern opened the workshop with a welcome to all the participants over coffee before introducing Jane Burke from Serial Solutions. Jane presented an overview of Intota to the workshop, she began by discussing how recent changes in the format of the library’s collections, such as the move to a predominantly e-based collection, the subsequent revision of the acquisitions, the increased purchase of packages over individual titles, have meant that we are now using yesterday’s systems and tools to do today’s jobs. With the old LMS’s and their corresponding workflows designed around the acquisition, maintenance and discovery of print material the move towards e-resources means that they are increasingly not fit for purpose. Jane then moved on to give an update on the development of Intota announcing that they hope to have the Assessment module ready for customers in 2013 and the complete release of the full availability of Intota in 2014. She finished by giving a demonstration of the proposed workflow of acquiring a resource.

Damyanti Patel from JISC Collections then spoke to the workshop about KB+. She open with a discussion about the rationale behind KB+ and how it developed out of a recognition of the need for accurate data and subscription lists and a realisation that every Journals Librarian across the UK was duplicating work as they were all trying to maintain an accurate list. She then moved on to provide an update of the subscriptions that are currently on KB+, the team started by populating the site with Nesli2 collections but have quickly moved on to looking at non-Jisc and non-Nesli2 collections. Damyanti then finished by talking about the future of KB+, how they are hoping to add historical data to the site, work with international partners, improve integration with other systems such as ELCAT, JUSP and 360, and also expand KB+ to cover ebooks.

Damyanti has blogged about her day here: knowledgebaseplus.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/jisc-hike-project-workshop/

Dave Pattern and Graham Stone then presented an overview and update on the HIKE project – eprints.hud.ac.uk/16837/.

The afternoon session was focused around the discussion of three main areas: workflows, cultural change and API’s and interoperability. Having done a lot of work around these areas for Huddersfield we interested to see if other institutions were experiencing the same issues or if they were having different issues what these were so we could factor them into our evaluation.

Workflows

The intended outcome of this discussion was that the HIKE team would understand other institutions workflows, their pain areas where they felt efficiencies could be made and how the new systems of KB+ and Intota could help them.

Integration between the Library Management System, Reading List Software and Registry

This was raised by a number of different institutions as an area where they felt efficiencies could be made. At the moment many of the LMS’s have no integration with their reading list software, registry or book suppliers, therefore staff have to manually check the reading lists before placing an order with the supplier.

The University of Leicester reported basic integration between their LMS, reading list software (Talis Aspire) and book supplier (Coutts). Here academics create or edit their reading lists on Apsire, which creates a link between the reading list item and catalogue record as the list is being created using Z39.50. These lists are then reviewed by the Librarians who make the purchasing decisions, using a link on Talis Aspire the Librarians can link directly through to Coutts Oasis to place their order. Orders are then loaded overnight on to their LMS Sirsi-Dynix Symphony via EDI. Although this integration developed by Talis has helped reduced the amount of time spent checking the reading lists and inputting the book orders manually, staff are increasingly hoping for a completely automated process. It was agreed that ideally the reading lists created by the Academics with items marked either essential or suggested would, with the information about the number of students enrolled on the module from Registry, generate automatic orders based on a formula designed by the Librarians. The orders would not only go direct to the supplier but would also create an order record within the LMS so it would be possible to identify items that were on order.

During this discussion a few points were raised that must be considered when developing or implementing this integrated and automated process. Firstly this process would not take into account any cross-over between subjects such as English and History, or Maths and Physics were traditionally students have shared books. This could result in a large number of surplus books. Secondly this automated process of procurement would need to be considered when developing the integration between Intota and a financial system.

 Other systems

Many of the delegates raised the lack of interoperability between the LMS and a wide variety of systems as a particular pain point. These included all of the above and also subscription agents, publishers and email. One major problem was the inability to record information – of course this is something that KB+ is offering.

The lack of interoperability has led some to by-pass the LMS completely.

Knowledge Base +

An issue raised regarding KB+ was that is was not yet embedded into current workflows – this could cause a problem even if libraries subscribed – if it is not part of the workflow it won’t get used. This is something for HIKE to consider when looking ‘dream workflow’.

A point was also raised regarding the amount of human intervention in the current workflows, and whether KB+ could offer rules to put into place to improve efficiencies and prevent human error.

Finance

Another area where it was agreed that duplication of work and the risk of error could be reduced was within the financial workflows. Like us the majority of the institutions duplicate all their financial accounting in the LMS and their institutions financial management system and have the same problems that we have outlined in earlier posts. It was agreed that interoperability between Intota and the financial system is highly sought after. Again a number of points were raised that would need to be considered when developing and implementing the integration between Intota and the financial system. These were how would the system deal with:

  • the top slicing of budgets which frequently occur in Libraries
  • the split responsibilities of different subject areas between different Librarians; and
  • the subscription to multi-year deals and the commitment of money through the years.

Acquisitions workflow

One of the issues raised when looking at the acquisitions workflows was that there was a marked difference between supplier databases and that there was an on-going out of print books problem.

It was also suggested that in the next national book contracts that technology needs to be a driver for choosing the contracts and that more attention needs to be paid to workflows, it was suggested that with Intota, EDI might be surplus to requirements!

Finally, nobody had a solution for the back office pain of dealing with the huge files involved with PDA.

Cultural Change

Throughout this project we have been aware that the implementation of either or both KB+ and Intota would lead to significant cultural change, and if the implementation of these systems were to be successful how this change is managed would be important. Therefore the theme of our second discussion was cultural change – we were interested in finding out what issues delegates thought their colleagues may have about the change and how these changes could be managed.

One of the main concerns people felt their colleagues would have was that the automation of many of the processes that make up their job would led to their de-skilling, loss of knowledge and less interesting jobs. Others thought that colleagues would be unsettled by the change in responsibilities and tasks as it may require additional training and the learning of new skills. Other factors that would contribute to colleagues feeling unsettled and anxious about such changes are the changes in routine, the lack of control and the feeling of incompetence.

After identifying the factors that could cause worry and apprehension regarding the implementation of these new systems we moved on to discuss how such a change could be managed to alleviate many of these concerns and for the system to be introduced successfully. Everyone agreed that the most important contribution to change management was to ensure that everyone was comfortable with the change and that staff at all levels have the relevant information, are fully involved and actively participating from the beginning.

It was felt that this could be enabled through a series of workshops which members of staff could come to and identify for themselves where there is duplication, a high risk of error and the points of pain in the old system and then help to define how the new system would bring benefits. It was felt that such a workshop would only work if an environment was created where staff would feel comfortable to come forward and express their concerns and anxieties about the new systems without being criticised or judged – staff need the opportunity to moan. One suggestion at this point was the use of an external moderator for such workshops? It was also suggested that these workshops should be continued after the implementation and evolve in to a user group were staff regularly evaluate the system and provides feedback to the company about possible developments. Staff need to understand the journey and help to identify the skills gaps.

It was suggested that we need to evolve people into new jobs. One way of offering reassurance to staff would be to show how the time that had become free through the automation of process would be used, it was suggested that this was not just giving staff mundane tasks but about giving them the opportunity to develop themselves through the participation in projects, etc. and to show how this would benefit the library. The timing of the installation of a new system was also believed to play an important part in how the change is perceived by staff. While implementation at the busiest period of the year was not recommended it was thought that it should be during a moderately busy period in order to demonstrate the effectiveness and benefits of the new system.

However, one group wondered to what extent have we already moved towards change anyway? At least two universities present have gone down the route of having a single team that swaps tasks, and others were thinking about doing the same thing. This was also linked back to the discussion on workflows – a possibility is that we could adopt one workflow for all resources – would this lead to one team, or would this spread things out too thinly? Do we still need experts in certain areas?

Another useful point was that many ‘back room’ teams have been dealing with change for some time – the biggest impact may actually be on the subject teams as their role may change, e.g. PDA vs. subject librarians orders. It was felt the these teams need to be engaged from the outset as there is a clear tension between the need to do more outreach work and ordering resources at granular level.

It was also pointed out that we live in a constantly changing and developing world and it is important that institutions and workflows have enough flexibility to be able to constantly enact change to keep in-line with these developments. Therefore it is important that using all the ideas above we can create an environment that is safe, comfortable and open to change. Intota is part of a suite of changes and it is our responsibility to adapt to them.

Finally it was argued that things take time and we have learnt many lessons already from our implementations of Summon. However, if we don’t make our processes more efficient it’s only a matter of time before somebody else does!

APIs

In the final session of the day, groups attempted to come up with lists of APIs and stuff they wish they had – or would want in a new system:

  • To talk to the financial system
  • Less duplication of effort – we are always trying to reconcile things
  • A wish list system
  • A way of reporting problems to all systems without having to re-write the same query three times
  • To be intelligent about students, e.g. on placement – linking student records to the student information system
  • An integrated VLE
  • Integration with every operating system in the University!
  • Active directory – smartcards etc.
  • Integrated with reading lists
  • RFID – Can we GPS track the orders
  • Notification of reservations
  • Could we give more information than just ‘on order’ or ‘reserved’  – e.g. use supply times from vendors to say when an item is expected?
  • Integrated ILL – not just with the British Library, but other local libraries too
  • Ethos!!!

Some thoughts on what we don’t want!

  • FTP
  • EDI
  • Imports and exports
  • Student records in the LMS – no duplication of data!
  • Single point of failure, e.g. staff who own important pieces of information

However, before we got too carried away, we also thought that removing the library catalogue completely might be a step to far for some – back to evolving our users/staff needs through cultural change.

With thanks to all who attended the HIKE workshop for their invaluable thoughts and feedback!

Meeting with Finance to discuss interoperability between Intota and Agresso

We recently met with some colleagues in the University Finance department to discuss the procurement process for books. We covered our current workflows, an ideal workflow and the possible interoperability between Intota and Agresso that would be needed to facilitate this.

We began by discussing the current workflows (which can be seen in the previous blog post ‘Analysis of ordering processes in the acquisitions team at Huddersfield’) and agreed that the areas we have highlighted as pressure points and that could be streamlined, were definitely areas that we needed to consider rationalising. We also looked at how our present workflow represented a “financial danger zone” to the University as it could lead to delays in the financial commitment for outstanding orders. Given the period of economic austerity we are in at the moment, and that Agresso is used for the budget monitoring of the whole University, it is crucial that Agresso has accurate and real-time information available at all times for the University’s Senior Management team for their constant strategic planning.

In light of this we moved on to discuss a possible workflow between Intota and the eMarketplace portal from Agresso in order to ensure reliable information.

It was proposed that Intota could be set up on eMarketplace as a supplier and that to order books we would log into Agresso, select eMarketplace as the procurement option and then punch out to Intota as a supplier. Once in Intota we could search for the resource we would like to buy using title, author, ISBN, etc. and this would then search all the different suppliers and return our results. We would then be able to select the items we would like to purchase and place them in a basket. After selecting all the items we would like to buy we could then return to Agresso and retrieve our ‘shopping’, pulling all the items we have placed in our basket back into Agresso. This would create a Purchase Order with each individual item having its own line. At this point it would be possible to select the correct Cost Centre and Nominal to charge the item to or split the price between different Nominals if needed.

We then raised the possibility of being able to split the book Nominal in Agresso down further to reflect the different subject’s budgets. Horizon (our current LMS) offers the opportunity for each subject to have its own fund code, and each year there can be up to thirty different fund codes. Our colleagues assured us that this would be possible in Agresso by using the categories within a Nominal. We would just need to inform them of the names of the different sub-sections of the nominal we would like them to set.

Once the ‘shopping’ has been pulled back into Agresso and assigned to the correct Cost Centre and Nominal this would be sent to the budget holder for approval. Once the whole order has been approved it is sent to the supplier/suppliers and the money is committed on Agresso. Upon receiving the books into the Acquisition’s department we would need to receive the items on Agresso, this would allow the electronic invoice that has been sent by the supplier to automatically be paid by either BAC’s or credit card depending on the preference of the institution. However, the payment method of the supplier would have to have been set up in advance, when the supplier was created, and for payment by credit card to be possible the supplier must have the facility to accept online payments. Agresso also has the functionality, providing the correct fields are known, to be able to send a file to update Intota and make the items received and available. This file could be programmed to update Intota at regular intervals, the frequency of which can be determined by the institution. It was noted that this workflow would not create an order record within Intota and that the item would only be recorded on Intota after it had been received in Agresso. Is this a problem? Would we need to know which books are on order? After a brief discussion we decided that is was something that we would need to discuss further, however it may be possibly be something for Intota to consider – the ability to create an order record from the ‘shopping basket’ which is exported to Agresso.

We then looked at RFID receiving, currently in practice at UCLAN, and questioned whether with the workflow above would still be possible if this was introduced. Our colleagues said that Agresso can currently read HTML and barcodes therefore it may be possible for it to read the information in an RFID tag to receive the item. However, it was stressed that the line number of the order would have to be programmed into the tag in order for Agresso to receive the item and reconcile the financial information.

Finally, we discussed reporting, budget management and planning options. It was agreed that if all the information in Agresso was accurate and in real time it would be possible for those who manage the budgets to continue using Agresso. However, it was pointed out that few Librarians use Agresso and that they may feel more comfortable accessing the information they need in Intota. The web version of Agresso offers a homepage which can display real time information relating to selected budgets either as figures or as graphs, therefore we wondered whether it would be possible for Intota the pull this information, via an API, to the dashboard of Intota. If the information was pulled each time the user logs on it would ensure the figures were accurate.

Recommendations

In order for Agresso to be able to pay the correct supplier after pulling the ‘shopping’ in from Intota via the eMarketplace, we would need the suppliers to have been set up in advance and for Intota to be able to provide unique identifiers for the different suppliers within Intota to be able to identify the suppliers of each item placed in the basket and for this information to be able to brought back in to Agresso to enable the correct supplier to be paid.

We currently charge the servicing costs and MARC records to different Nominals therefore we would need this pricing information to be available through Intota and to be able to be pulled back in to Agresso through eMarketplace in order for us to assign it to the correct Nominal.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.
Joan Wallach Scott

Here at Huddersfield, we’ve had Horizon since 1995 and it was in place for nearly a decade before I started as Systems Manager in 2003. In 2004, we began the year-long process of going out to tender, evaluating the major competing systems — Unicorn, Millennium, Endeavor and Aleph — before deciding that nothing out there was considerably better than what we already had, and therefore it wasn’t worth the pain of changing the LMS. Plus, if we stayed with Horizon, we could eventually move to the all-singing and all-dancing Corinthian!

Within a few months of making that decision, Sirsi bought Dynix and then, just as we were about to formally commit ourselves to moving to Corinthian (aka Horizon 8.0), I got a phone call to tip me off that Horizon was now a dead duck. Oh well, three years of careful planning and change management down the drain!

Since then, we’ve been coasting along on Horizon v7.3.4 (UK) waiting for something better to come along. Speaking to other academic libraries over the years, “waiting for something better to come along” seems to be a standard refrain — as someone else once put it to me after a few glasses of wine at a library conference: “the system you’ve got is crappy and the other systems out there are just as crappy, so you may as well stay with the pile of crap you’ve already got!”

That’s not to say Horizon is crappy, but it is becoming increasingly unfit for purpose and Amy has outlined some of the issues in her blog posts — in particular, the manual batch nature of traditional library management systems, the emphasis on print management, the inability to easily interface with the university’s other key systems, and the duplication of effort required by staff make it difficult to improve workflow efficiency.

As we begin to look at the new web-scale systems — dubbed “Library Services Platforms” by Marshall Breeding — it seems obvious to me that they offer better scope for workflow efficiencies and interoperability with other corporate systems.

So, what would actually be the main barrier to moving to one of these systems?

Until this time last year, I’d have probably answered “concerns about the ability of the vendors to deliver a fully viable product”, but Marshall Breeding’s keynote at the MmIT Conference in Sheffield changed my mind. I’m paraphrasing Marshall here, but he said something like this: “don’t worry about the technology — these companies have a proven track record of delivering viable products — the biggest problem is going to be the cultural shift required within libraries, which will take decades.”

And, of course, Marshall is right. We all moan on about our library management systems — in fact, the only librarians I’ve spoken to in the last few years who seem to genuinely like their system were all college librarians using Heritage — but how willing are we to change to something better? The workflows might suck but, after nearly 20 years, the staff are used to them. We’ve found hack-y workarounds for the lack of interoperability that are good enough, thank you very much. Do we really want all our precious stuff to be out there in “the cloud”?

Amy’s already covered change management in a previous blog post and cultural change is one of the topics we’ll be discussing with other libraries at the HIKE workshop event next week, so I’ll report back with more thoughts after that! In the meantime, here’s some Bowie…

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?

Patron-Driven Acquisition

Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) is a method of purchasing materials for a library based on a known patron demand.[1] It is an example of the ‘Just-in-time’ acquisitions model which is a reaction by the library to ensure the needs of the user are met, as opposed to the ‘Just-in-case’ acquisitions model which is the traditional way in which materials are selected by a Librarian in anticipation of the user’s needs. However PDA is not a new idea, it has been around for about ten years, longer if you include Inter-Library Loans (ILL)! Although ILL’s do not inform purchasing decisions and are only a loan of an item it does allow patrons to decide on which resources a budget is spent on. This concept of allowing patrons to decide on the items that are permanently added to the collection is becoming increasingly popular with libraries to ensure that their budgets are spent on items that satisfy the needs and demands of the patrons. The rise in the implementation of PDA by libraries means that any of the new next generation library and web-scale management system must have the capacity to work with this acquisition model, among others, and as such will be a useful criterion for us in the evaluation of the suitability of Intota of the Huddersfield and the UK Higher Education marketplace.      

As PDA can be used for both print and electronic items there are a number of different methods of implementing PDA. One method is the selection of items for purchase by subject specialists (lecturers/professionals/researchers) within the University. The selection can occur in a number of different ways, at the Brigham Young University subject specialists fill in a form on the library catalogue with the details of the item they would like to have purchased.[2] This then goes directly to the acquisitions team who order the item without consulting with the Librarian. A similar but more automated process is currently being developed at Huddersfield with the MyReading software. This in-house software is being developed to allow lecturers to upload their reading lists (identifying essential, recommended and additional reading) on to a VLE and be viewable by students. These reading lists working with ASIS (the Applicant and Student Information System which holds all the academic and personal data for applicants and students including the modules the students are enrolled on) will then inform acquisition decisions by having a formula within the system to automatically create orders based on the categorisation (essential, recommended or additional) of the book by the tutor, the number of students on the module and the format of the items. For example, a formula may be:

If an ebook is marked as essential reading, buy 1 copy for every 25 students on the module but for a print copy only buy 1 copy for every 10 students.

These automatic orders will then either be routed directly to the acquisitions team (if essential) or to the Librarian (if recommended or additional) for a decision on purchase to be made.

Similarly many libraries use patron suggestions to inform purchases made by the library.[3] This is where any patron can suggest an item that they think would be advantageous for the library to purchase; it could be by an electronic form, a paper form or even a verbal recommendation. The Librarian then considers the request before passing the details on to the acquisitions team if the decision is to purchase the item. 

E-book PDA is another popular and easy method of PDA. The Librarians will decide on which subject areas/Dewey number that they would like to be available for PDA and will then up-load all the relevant e-book catalogue records from the supplier on to the catalogue. Trigger points for purchase will also be chosen by the Librarian, for example, in a PDA trial Huddersfield it was decided that a second five minute preview of an item would trigger the purchase. However, there are a number of different triggers including the number of users, time spent with the item, number of pages viewed, etc. This allows all the e-books to be searchable by the patrons and if the trigger point is met a purchase will automatically occur. 

Another PDA model employed at Huddersfield is Hey Presto which is an order generated in response to multiple holds on an item. Hey Presto was developed in-house to send an alert to the relevant subject team when the number of holds on an item exceeded the number of copies held by the library. This informs the subject teams of where the demand for a book, often in response to a recommendation by a tutor, is not being sufficiently met by the library. After receiving the alert the team can then make a decision on how many copies to buy and the format in which to buy the item. 

One form of PDA that Huddersfield does not currently use is ILL purchase on demand. This is where after having received an Inter-Library Loan request the team then decides whether to fulfil the loan request or whether to purchase the item for the collection permanently. Another way of looking at this is to call it print PDA!

The majority of the studies on PDA have tended to be favourable showing that items purchased by PDA are more cost effective than those purchased under the normal selection method because they generally have higher circulation.  At University of West-Maddison 73% of items bought in response to an ILL request circulated twice or more in a two year period as opposed to 6% of the items acquired through the normal selection method.[4] At Brigham Young University (BYU) the e-book PDA gave similar results as they were 26% cheaper than the ones obtained through the traditional methods and were used 13.75 times more. [5] The same study at BYU also demonstrated that although many of the print books obtained through PDA were the same price as those purchased by the traditional selection method they were circulated more frequently giving a lower cost per use (CPU).[6] Statistics from the University of Huddersfield e-book PDA in 2011 showed that PDA titles had double the usage of a non-PDA title. The average number of views per month for a non-PDA title was 0.966 as opposed to the 2.03 views of a PDA title. These studies and many others have shown that PDA is a very successful and cost-effective way of acquiring items for the library and satisfying patron demand, and is an acquisitions model which should be seriously considered by libraries as they face decreasing budgets.

Despite this some Librarians still harbour reservations about the use of PDA in academic libraries. One of their main concerns about this acquisition model is that it may result in the collection becoming less academic and more ‘popular’, while another concern is that because the budgets for these models of acquisitions are often shared and there is no easy way of monitoring the spend one subject area could spend more than their percentage of the budget to the disadvantage of another.[7] However, recent research has demonstrated that these fears are unfounded. An investigation by Lisa Shen et al. investigated the difference in the academic quality of books chosen by PDA and those chosen by the librarians. By asking librarians to choose the items they would order from a list of books and then presenting the same list to patrons they researchers found that the selections were very similar in content, thus disagreeing with the notion that the items selected by the patrons would not be as academic as those chosen by the librarians.[8] The other concern of the librarians over PDA concerning the inability to ensure that the subject’s quota of the budget is correctly spent is being looked at by e-book providers. Some e-book providers have developed software that allows you to establish separate budgets on the e-book platform and assign dewy numbers to these budgets so that when a book is bought it will then deduct the money from the relevant budget. This software can also send an alert to the correct subject team when the budget is nearly spent to ensure you either withdraw you titles from the catalogue, making them unavailable via PDA, or you replenish your account. Another concern, which is unique to e-book PDA, is the uploading and subsequent deleting of numerous catalogue records to the library catalogue which can take time and is not instantaneous. It took the University of Huddersfield 3-4 days to upload 120,000 records and then at least a day to delete them. The main concern with this delay is that it is not possible to instantly delete them if the budget is spent; however with the implementation of Intota it is possible that this problem may be resolved. Rather than uploading the records to the catalogue and then deleting them, the books will be made available through the Knowledge Base by switching them on and then to remove them you switch them off.

Growing evidence is showing that PDA is a very successful acquisitions model which allows the library to increase its holdings with cost effective specialist academic content that is wanted by the patrons and has a successful circulation rate. Although librarians have some concerns over these methods recent research appears to proving them unfounded. Therefore it is probable that this method of acquisition will prevail and perhaps pervade over the traditional ‘just-in-case’ model of selection. It is crucial then that a new next generation library and web-scale management system such as Intota must have this acquisitions model built into the workflow.


[1] W. Breitbach and J.E. Lambert, ‘Patron-Driven E-book Acquisition’, Computers in Libraries, 31.6 (July 2011), 17-20 (p.17).

[2] Rebecca Schroeder, ‘When patrons call the shots: patron-driven acquisition at Brigham Young University’, Collection Building 31.1 (2012), 11-14 (p. 12).

[3] Rebecca Schroeder, ‘When patrons call the shots: patron-driven acquisition at Brigham Young University’, Collection Building 31.1 (2012), 11-14 (p. 12).

[4] G. van Dyyk, ‘Interlibrary loan purchase-on-demand: A misleading literature’ Library Collections, Acquisitions and Technical Services 35.2/3 (2011), 83-89 (p. 84).

[5] Schroeder, p. 13.

[6] Schroeder, p. 13.

[7] L. Shen et al., ‘Headfirst into Patron-Driven Acquisition Pool: A Comparison of Librarian Selections versus Patron Purchases’ Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 23(2011), 203-218 (p. 205).

[8] Shen, p. 212.

A wish list for Intota

Having investigated and analysed the Acquisitions Team workflows at Huddersfield, in the previous blog post we identified a number of issues that need to be addressed by Serial Solutions when developing Intota and for us to consider when evaluating the system. So here is our wish list for the acquisitions process:

  1. An open shopping forum within Intota and linked to all registered suppliers
    A system, similar to the one on Google where you can enter the product you are searching for and it will return results, including prices, from all possible suppliers. A similar system is currently available via (Swetswise) for the purchase of eBooks. This catalogue provides an easy way of browsing and buying eBooks as it compares the vendors, prices and different access options. Having found the item you would like to buy it would then be possible for you to place an order on the item from within Intota, which would order the item from the supplier and create a record of the order in Intota. A further development may even allow the application of filters or a ranking system in line with the terms of the National Book Contract.
  2. Intota to be integrated with the University financial system
    If Intota was fully integrated with the financial system, Agresso, while ordering the item you could at the same time commit money on Agresso by assigning the purchase to a cost centre and nominal. Ideally when the item was delivered on Intota it would also show as delivered on Agresso. This could then either pay for the item automatically by credit card or allow the automatic payment of the invoice by BACS on Agresso once the invoice comes through as it would recognise that the items had been received. As the cost centre and nominal was assigned during the order process the money would be taken from the correct budget. Such interaction would create more accurate records and give access to more detailed reporting systems, allowing improved monitoring of budget spend making it easier to plan budgets.
  3. Less staff intensive ways of dealing with book reports
    Book reports could work in a similar way as social media notifications reducing the amount of staff time spent dealing with book reports. The suppliers could access and add information to one field on the order records in your system. This would allow them to find an item and add information such as NYP or order cancelled, when such an alteration was made it would create a notification to draw your attention to the change. By clicking on the notification it could take you through to the item altered allowing you to view the information and act on it if needed. Ideally it would even be possible for you to pass this notification on to other people and add comments, allowing us to alert the subject teams in the instance of a price increase and ask them if they would be willing to accept.
  4. Simpler way of monitoring book spend
    Currently the monitoring of book spend requires the subject teams (who monitor the budgets) to log into Horizon and run a report to see the amount spent, the amount committed and the amount left. However, this can take time and relies on the staff being familiar with the acquisitions module. Therefore, it is suggested that a pop-up notification system could be employed, after each purchase a pop-up could appear informing the user how much of the budget has been spent and how much is left. Taking the idea of the pop-up notification system further it is suggested that such pop-ups could also notify the teams on the amount of time left that they have to spend their budget if monthly targets were used. Similarly such a system could be used to monitor the spend outside the National Book Contract which would improve our ability to ensure we did not go over the ceiling of £35,000 per annum.
  5. A feature to check book orders
    At the moment the morning after an order has been placed we receive an email confirmation of the items ordered. This is currently checked manually against a hand-written list of orders to ensure that the two totals of the number of items ordered tally. Although a small task it is crucial and still absorbs staff time therefore it is suggested that a feature could be introduced for a notification or pop-up to appear after the order has been sent to confirm the number of items ordered.
  6. Integration with MyReading
    MyReading is reading list software that has been developed in-house at Huddersfield. As an integral part of the student experience and part of the acquisitions process integration between Intota and MyReading needs to be considered. To reduce the number of reports being run to identify new items that have been added it is hoped that Intota may be able to introduce a notification system which would alert staff when an academic had added new items to a reading list that needed to be linked. It is also hoped that Intota, through integration with MyReading, would be able to identify module codes on new books and automatically add them to the correct list.