23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Strategy Session: Innovations–Where Are They Now?

August 25, 2008 at 5:51 pm | Posted in Strategy Sessions | Leave a comment


Innovations: Where Are They Now?
Selden Durgom Lamoureux, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Beth Bernhardt, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Reported by Jane M. Bethel

This session provided updates on innovations designed to improve serials management. The presenters included how the innovations began, the problems each tried to solve, approaches to solving the problems, and the innovations’ level of success over time.  Innovations discussed included: SPARC, the John Cox model license, LOCKSS, COUNTER, SERU, SUSHI, and the TRANSFER Project. Dividing the session into fifteen to twenty minute segments kept this presentation fresh and especially engaging, ending with a lively interactive group discussion.

Lamoureux looked back at three innovations from a decade ago: SPARC, the John Cox model license, and LOCKSS. SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, which receives support from ARL, continues to address the serials pricing crisis as a low cost competitor to expensive STM journals. Ironically, SPARC has also served to create new cost centers. SPARC has become active in the OA movement and in outreach to students. The John Cox model license, supported by subscription agents and intended to relieve burdens on publishers and libraries, offers a multiple-choice approach to creating licenses. A large number of publishers have used it, but antitrust and competition laws naturally limit its success. An unfortunate fact is that the negotiation of any contract will usually trigger a set of time-consuming institutional processes. LOCKSS, Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe, initially received grant funding, but is now seeking financial self-sufficiency, and building its base as publisher and library participation expands. It may be that its greatest success will come from preservation of local digital collections, or the more purely archival project, CLOCKSS. These three innovations all continue in some form ten years later. However, success, if determined by the initial goal, is heavily dependent on the problem being solvable. It is also clear that perseverance pays off, especially if you are prepared to shift focus.

Bernhardt then looked at more recently developing innovations. TRANSFER, new in 2006, aims to develop and implement a set of high-level guidelines and a code of conduct for publishers. When a title moves to a different publisher, TRANSFER requires that the content be “TRANSFER compliant” and data be kept in a central repository. SERU, the Shared E-Resources Understanding, initially supported by publisher and library organizations, and now sponsored by NISO, was launched in February 2008. Twenty publishers and platform providers have registered, and more libraries and publishers are encouraged to become involved. It is an alternative to licensing that points publishers and libraries back to copyright law, and acts as a companion to copyright law by articulating the consensus understanding. For example, the terms “subscription,” “subscribers,” and “patron use” need consensus understanding. In addition, the companion to copyright law describes standard confidentiality behaviors, privacy, online performance, service, and archival and perpetual access for serials management.

SUSHI, Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative, is the automated method to manage the success of COUNTER, Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources. COUNTER created a time-consuming problem of collecting, storing, and aggregating statistics which may be relieved as vendors are building SUSHI into their ERMs. This ERM requirement in COUNTER Draft 3 of the Journals and Databases Code of Practice at niso.org is creating an international set of standards and protocols.

The final third of the session was devoted to the future. Participants divided into clusters of five to ten people and were charged to discuss “what makes you crazy.” Group discussion focused on the need for more automation, reduction of double keying, improvement of authentication methods, ability to upload licenses in an ERM, and growth of SERU to include consortial licensing. Standardization should come with e-books, e-ISBNs, and e-book knowledgebase providers. Standard icons could indicate subscription rights for patrons, standard packages of financial information, and statistical benchmark interpretation for different sized libraries. This session was well attended and well worth the time.


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