Doing More With Less

These days everybody is trying to do more with less money.  Although this is usually viewed negatively and most often discussed as budgets shrink, the concept of doing more for less or getting the best bang for your budget really shouldn’t be thought of in a negative light.   In lean times it can help keep or maintain some programs, resources and services.  In prosperous times (when we don’t often talk about this topic) it often means having the ability to purchase something extra.  

In my previous posts I mentioned the various publishers who were freezing or lowering their 2010 subscription costs.  With the advent of the Internet and the electronic journal there are a whole host of ways to get creative and try and save money on your journal budget.  Saving money on journals doesn’t always mean cutting the journal collection.  Some publisher’s offer cheaper subscription costs for online only access.  It is also important to take into account the other “hidden factors” in your journal collection.  One publisher’s online only journals might be more expensive than the printed version, but you don’t have to spend time (salary dollars) checking in the journal, you don’t have to spend time and money on binding, you don’t have to worry about theft, and your usage statistics are easily collected online.  The cost of a printed journal is more expense than the subscription.  It is also probably extremely helpful to invest in an A-Z product through a company like Serials Solutions or EBSCO.  These products are relatively inexpensive for the amount of time they save maintaining the online links to journals, collecting and providing usage statistics.  Now it sounds funny to say spend money to save money, but an A-Z service can also help you better determine your electronic journal collection overlap.  Why pay for something when you are getting it from other sources or packages? 

There are all sort of other ways to save and get the most for your library dollars.  One of the librarians at my institution has submitted the abstract to a poster for Midwest MLA detailing how she has saved the library approximately $5,000/year by actively requesting for a donated copy of each new book authored or edited by our institutional authors.  Right now about 50% of the institution’s staff authors donate a copy of their book to the library.  Think of the savings if she were to get the donation rate even higher.  The librarian also discovered other ways to save money through other types of book donations and by negotiating with publishers.  I don’t want to steal her thunder so if/when her abstract is accepted I will link out to it and her poster.

Of course these budget issues are hitting more than just the academic medical and the hospital library world.  The recently released study (July 15, 2009) Ithaka Case Studies in Sustainability project is a multi-year, international exploration of the strategies being used to support digital initiatives over the long term.  Twelve cases are presented with special attention to cost management strategies.  Some of the studies are from groups and projects outside of the United States and some are humanities based. 

There are those in the medical library world who are looking at ways to save money or creating lists of companies with more favorable pricing and conditions.  As I mentioned in an earlier posts, MLA’s Scholarly Communications Committee is creating a list of STM publishers who have frozen or decreased their 2010 subscription prices.  Mark Funk, previous MLA president is also looking at innovative ways medical librarians are using to save money and fund resources and services.  Recently he sent a post to MEDLIB asking for suggestions (re-posted with permission below).

I will be speaking at the UNYOC Chapter meeting in October on collection development in times of diminishing budgets. Oh sure, I have some things I do to deal with budget issues, but that won’t fill up 40 minutes. And most of them only work for academic medical libraries. So I’m asking the medical library community to send me the things you are now doing to deal with a diminished budget to my blog.

I will put the best suggestions into my presentation, and make the presentation available for everyone. So consider this a joint cooperative publication, with me as the editor. I suspect that many of us are doing the same things, but I will identify interesting techniques with your name, if you allow me.

Please post your techniques, even if they seem obvious to you. Here’s what I’m doing (although some pre-date the current economic situation):

  • Join consortia (lowers pricing, saves on negotiation time.)
  • Partner with the main library (our annual share of the Springer ebook package  is less than what we used to pay for print Springer books from our  approval plan, and we get tons more.)
  • Substitute free “lite” versions for little used paid databases (AGELINE, AGRICOLA.)
  • Use those cancellation privileges in your big deal (every $100 helps. /sarcasm)
  • Go e-only whenever possible (although sometimes this is more costly, watch out.)
  • Cancel the approval plan.
Come on, show the world your brilliant idea. Let me know if I can credit your idea. I’ve already received some excellent ideas; please keep them coming.


So what are you doing in your library?  How are you doing more (or the same) with less money.  have you cut things or have you been more judicious in your selection process?  Let Mark know and feel free to also leave a comment.  I think we all can learn a few new tricks.

MLA Scholarly Communications Committee Tracking STM Publishers Who Freeze or Decrease 2010 Prices

Shortly after I wrote the post about AMA freezing their 2010 subscription prices at 2009 price, I cam across this poston liblicense.  According to the email posted on the list, MLA’s Scholarly Communications Committee is creating a list of STM publishers who have either frozen or decreased their 2010 subscription prices for some of their journals.

They are willing to share this information once they have it all compiled. 

Below is a list of the publishers they are currently aware of so far.  If you know of any STM publishers not on the list who have frozen or decreased their prices for some of the journals, contact Karen Albert, Senior Director for Education and Information Services at Talbot Research Library karenalbert[at sign]fccc[dot]com.

  • ASM (American Society for Microbiology)
  • *American Mathematical Society
  • Annual Reviews
  • ***European Endocrinology Societies –Price freezing on selected
    individual titles for libraries that can commit to continuing to
    subscribe for 2010-12
  • SPIE
  • National Academy of Sciences – PNAS
  • Oxford U. Press: there will be no increase in the online only price between 2009 and 2010 for the majority of our journals.
  • Rockefeller U. Press
  • Earthscan

This list might be very helpful.  I think it would be interesting to have a list of database providers, ebook providers, and other online resources too.  However that might be initially biting off more than we can chew.

AMA Journal 2010 Subcription Prices

According to a post on liblicense from Elizabeth Solaro, Manager of Marketing and Promotions for JAMA and Archives Journals, the American Medical Association has announced that 2010 subscription prices for JAMA, Archives Journals and American Medical News will remain at 2009 prices. 

This price freeze applies to those who have an AMA Site License, Institutional Limited Access, individual print and online only supscriptions, and the JAMA & Archives Backfiles collection.  If you need more information about this or have any questions you should contact JAMA & Archives. 

I find it interesting to look at the various publishers, vendors, and producers to see who is responding to the ecomonic situation and how.  Not every company is able to freeze prices, some of your smaller companies or society publications still have to raise prices since they too are suffering in the same economy.  However, it appears that even many of those smaller companies and societies are responding to economic worries with smaller prices increases than in years past.  I am not completely naive, I know a lot of the reason for this is to preserve their overall subscription base.  There is more competition than ever for subscription dollars.  The bigger institutions and libraries are becoming extremely cost conscious.  Three years ago a larger library may have been able to access journal or resource from two different companies.  There usually was some reason for paying two companies for the same product.  Perhaps patrons liked one interface better and the librarians liked the other.  Perhaps there was some duplication and overlapping of packages across vendors.  Who knows what the reasons were, but now institutions are going over their subscriptions with a fine tooth comb and cutting loose the under performers and consolidating access and eliminating overlapping and duplicated resources. 

What I find even more interesting are the companies that continue on as normal, as if we weren’t in a global recession.  You usually find out about these companies either directly from your 2010 price quote or indirectly from the librarian grapevine.  Once I am able to separate myself from the emotions of the process, I find it quite intriguing to see who these companies are and their rational(s) for the price increase.  I wonder whether their strategy will ultimately be effective or whether their product will be on the chopping block for many libraries.   

Time will tell.

Journals Going Digital Only

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article about the American Chemical Society ending the print editions and begin producing only online journals for all but three of their journals.  It was a financial decision.  “Printing and distribution costs now exceed revenues from print journals,” according to a story in Ars Technica which The Chronicle sites. 

On the biomedical side of things BMJ was one of the first journals to use the online version as their official version instead of the printed version.  BMJ’s “continuous publication” means that all articles appear on before being included in an issue of the print journal. While this has caused some among readers and librarians, it is clearly a just the beginning of what is soon to come. 

Adverstising dollars, subscriptions, and even article submissions are all affected in some way as the switch from the printed issue to the online issue happens within the publishing industry.  In some areas there are great opportunities and promise with an online article such as the multitude of ways that data, images, sound, etc. can now be better represented.  But for every growth opportunity there will be some growing pains. 

As we move away from the printed issue librarians and readers will need to ween themselves off of page numbers and rely upon the doi for citation and reference purposes.  It is a little awkward but doable.  One big hurdle we librarians must start to deal with is archives.  If a journal goes all online such as the American Chemical Society journals, there is no printed issue subscription to hold in archives on our shelves.  The debate about keeping the print copy for just in case circumstances becomes pointless if there is no print edition to keep.  ILL issues need to be ironed out a little better.  It is common fair use policy to ILL a copy or scanned image of the printed article to another library via email or Illiad.  Things get murky when dealing with the online copy.  Some journal publishers have adopted the same fair use policies for their online editions as they have for the printed editions.  Other publishers have far more restrictive policies on fair use and ILL of the online article.  A great many publishers do not have any policies regarding ILL and their online articles. 

Finally we as librarians need to start looking at ourselves and our libraries to see how we are set up to handle the transition.  We are already beginning to see some of this in the shifting perception of the library as a repository of information to an information services provider.  As librarians we need to evaluate how we personally are ready for this kind of shift.  Do we know our IP ranges?  Are we aware of the journals that have wonky ILL policies for online editions?  Do we have access methods established (A-Z, LinkOut, etc.)?  Do we have education and elevator speeches ready to help some of our patrons?  How are we doing in “training” our administration to not be fooled into thinking that just because it is online it is cheaper or free?  There are other issues and challenges to consider, these are just a few that I can easily think of and describe. 

Thankfully this transition isn’t going to happen over night.  We have time to work on a lot of the areas that we are lacking in.  However, now is the time to work on it.  To sit by and still invest in the print with no eye toward the future changes would be very costly in money, time, and potentially personal and library usage.

Twitter Tips

I have begun to really get into Twitter.  I have said several times that I am not quite sure how Twitter can be used in medical libraries, however there are some medical libraries out there with a Twitter account using it. 

So far, many libraries seem to be using it as a news communication device, either replacing or supplementing their blog.  You can easily grab the RSS feed and hook it into your web page to display current library news and events.  For example if our library had a Twitter account we would have been able to easily display a tweeted message  on our site about an issue we were having with the lights in the library.  As it was, we were able to add a message to our web page that our lights were off but all other power (i.e. computers) was working and we were indeed open.  So if we were able to put that message on our web page already why would be interested in using Twitter?  Well, it might be a little easier than bringing up the page, changing it, and uploading it to web server. 

Like every tool each librarian needs to look at Twitter and see whether it is useful for the library or for the professional or personal life.  I find it a very useful tool for me to stay connected to other medical and library colleagues.  I use it to stay current and to ask questions and discussion issues with others.  It has been so useful that it has almost become a sort of light version MEDLIB-L to me. 

If you are thinking of using Twitter for in your library you might be interested in 5 Ways to Build a Local Following on Twitter and twitterless.

The first is an article on ways that you can easily build your group of followers.   Their examples can be adapted and applied for institutions.  They suggest using Twellow to find people in your city or state, which may not be of interest to most medical libraries.  But Twellow has a rather robust (for Twitter) search feature allowing you to find people who mention your institution’s name.  It can search for an exact phrase, people matching groups of phrases, and it can search within a specific field.  Another nice feature is that it can also exclude phrases. 

Twitterless is an easy way to keep track of your followers.  If you have an institutional Twitter account it would be helpful to know how many people follow and stop following your account.  It graphs your follower history over time. 

A lot depends on how you or your library intends to use Twitter.  How you intend to use Twitter will somewhat drive your decisions on who you follow, whether you protect your updates, your RT and @ behavior (RT= repost someone’s tweet, @=reply to someone’s tweet). 

If you are already a Twitterer or if you are just interested in trying it out for your self or your library you might be interested in learning about some of these Twitter tips.

Get a listing of Twittering librarians. Just Tweet It, is a directory where people can add there name and search for others on Twitter who share the same interests.  There is a listing of librarians as well as accountants, archaeologists, engineers, mortgage brokers, and even wedding planners. The directory relies on self submission.

Twitter is not for everyone and every institution.  It took me a while to decide whether I wanted to stick with it or not.  I had to find my Twitter legs so to speak.  Not only did I have to decide if I even wanted to Twitter, but I wasn’t sure what my purpose for Twittering would be.  Did I want a completely personal (not library related) account where I tweeted about things going on in my personal life including my quest to sell my house (finally sold thank goodness) or did I want a completely library professional account where all I tweeted about was medical and library related things?   Eventually my own personal Twitter style (a mix of professional and personal information) emerged and once it did I really found that I began to enjoy using Twitter.

Applying for Library Jobs

I ran across an fun and interesting blog post from In The Library with the Lead Pipe, titled “What Not To Do When Applying for Library Jobs“.  The post is interesting not only in content but how it was created.  They decided to do a “collective wisdom” post about library job hunting mistakes.  Essentially it is a group post pooling information on the “do’s and don’t’s” of looking and interviewing for a library job.

There is practical information on planning, applying for a position, application process and materials, phone interviews, interview prep, interviews, references, the offer, and “after you land the job.”  There is something for everyone and it doesn’t hurt to read through these things before you decide to apply for a job.

Once you have read the post and you find you have some suggestions, they welcome any of your thoughts, advice and questions.

Of course looking for a job is serious, but if you find you need a little stress relief, you might want to check out the the recent article, “43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews” from Career Builder.

Attend Midwest MLA in Columbus, OH

It doesn’t seem like October is right around the corner, but it is if you are planning to present at the Midwest Chapter Medical Library Association’s Annual Meeting in Columbus, OH. 

The conference theme is “Seek, Discover, Explore.” Presenters can show how they “endeavor to seek out new and improved ways to provide cutting-edge library services, to discover innovative techniques for using technology and the Internet, or to explore how libraries connect people to information in creative ways. Papers and posters may highlight practical problem-solving approaches, report on research in librarianship, document collaborative efforts or outreach activities, or describe innovative programs, resources or services. Contributed paper and poster topics are as unlimited as your imagination, talents and creativity can devise.”

Presenters must submit a 250 word abstract describing you poster.  Include your name, position title, address, phone number and email address. The abstract should be sent to: Linda DeMuro, Director of Library Services, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Library, 700 Children’s Dr., Columbus OH 43205 or emailed to Linda.DeMuro[at sign]NationwideChildrens[dot]org.

Deadline for abstract submission is July 31, 2009. Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be made August 15, 2009.

Are you a library student or recent library school graduate? Budget got you down?  You might be happy to know that the Midwest MLA Chapter has Annual Meeting Scholarship to support the attendance of library science students.
If you are live, work, or study in Ohio, the Ohio Health Sciences Library Association has a scholarship available for whenever the Midwest Chapter MLA meeting is held in Ohio.  Criteria for eligibility and the application can be found at OHSLA’s website

Last but not least, the Midwest Chapter of MLA seeks to recognize the accomplishments of its outstanding members at every annual meeting.  The Jean Williams Sayre Innovation Award and the Distinguished Librarian of the Year Award are perfect opportunities for members to nominate outstanding colleagues for recognition.  You can find information on these awards at the Midwest Chapter’s website.

I hope to see you in Columbus.

EBSCO Enables New Searching Technology

(courtesy EBSCO press release)

EBSCO has launched new searching technology to support natural language searching for scientific formulas.  The new database architecture means article names, abstracts and key phrase headings within citations will contain scientific formulas.

That means it will be easier to find articles such as this:

Theoretical study on N2+, P2+, As2+, NP+, NAs+, and PAs+: Hyperfine coupling constants for 12Σ(g)+, and electron-sping-factors for 12Σg+/1,22Σu+(X2+) and 1,22Σ+(XY+) states. Bruna, P.J.; Grein, F. In: Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, Aug. 2005, vol.232, no.2, pp. 137-50, Journal Paper. (AN: 8727739).

This type of natural language search will make it easier for researchers to find relevant information within their searches.

So far Inspec is the first of EBSCO’s databases to utilize this new feature.

NLM Presentations from MLA 2009

I recently wrote a post (June 19, 2009) about NLM’s Online User’s Meeting at MLA, at the time of the post they had published the remarks and the presentation slides made by David Gilliken. 

Wait no longer, the NLM Technical Bulletin now has the rest of the content available online.

Don’t forget to look at the PowerPoint slides which show the changes that will be happening with PubMed.