24:3 (2009:09) 24th Conference: Tactics Session: Online Serials Access X-Game

September 14, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment

Online Serials Access X-Game: Surviving a Vendor Change for Online Serials Access and Thriving!

Christine Ryan, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Rose Nelson, Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries
Reported by Kathryn Wesley

In August 2007, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a small metropolitan university with an understaffed, underfunded library, received a $17,000 invoice from their serials management vendor, Christine Ryan reported.  UTC could not pay the invoice and the vendor would not negotiate a lower price.  UTC’s contract with the vendor expired July 1, 2008. Their e-collections included 143 databases, 950 e-journal subscriptions, and access to 29,000 titles though aggregators.

In October 2007, Ryan attended the Tenn-Share DataFest and saw a demo of the beta version of Gold Rush, an electronic resource management system developed by the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (CARL) a nonprofit consortium.  Rose Nelson from CARL explained that Gold Rush was developed for CARL’s member libraries, but is currently licensed to libraries throughout the U.S.  Gold Rush could provide more services than UTC’s original vendor at less than a quarter of the cost.

With only nine months until their contract expired, UTC launched a project to explore alternative systems, select a new vendor, and migrate their data by July 1, 2008.  Ryan called the project an “X-game” because of the extremely short timeframe, the extreme savings potential, the desire for extremely little disruption for the university’s students, and the potential to gain extremely valuable additional benefits.

The first step was to decide on features – which were required, which desired, and which expendable?  They also needed to research other potential vendors.  Considerations in this process included price to quality ratio, vendor stability, and the fundamental premise that they did not want to go backwards with regard to functionality.  Other considerations included whether vendors provided trials or demos, existence and quality of user documentation, and what training would be provided.  Three potential vendors were examined in detail on price, product features, and customer service qualities such as professionalism and communication.  Gold Rush was selected.

A Gold Rush Implementation Team (GRIT) went into action.  Pre-implementation work included retaining existing lists (databases, urls, journal titles, dates); extensive testing of data, especially heavily used referring sources and targets, and sources with a history of problems linking to targets; and retaining vendor notification lists.  During the course of the project, GRIT attempted to minimize user disruption while enabling adequate user feedback.  Product launch was preceded by a promotional campaign.

Both Ryan and Nelson were pleased with the outcomes of the implementation.   From the vendor’s point of view, it provided an opportunity for product enhancement and customer training.  From UTC’s point of view, their goal of getting an improved product at an affordable price with excellent customer service was realized.

Gold Rush stores information in a collection of databases and includes a set of applications that can interact with the databases in a variety of ways, Nelson explained.  Three of the applications are browser-accessible.  GR Public provides holdings data; GR Linker is an openURL link resolver; and GR Staff is a management interface.  The fourth application, GRX, is an optional XML client that resides on the desktop and provides access to holdings data.


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