The Library Advisory Board – Autumn 2018

The students are back at university, the trees are losing their leaves and people are sporting woolly jumpers again. At Exact Editions, we know that this change in the natural seasons marks the beginning of the manic ordering season for library resources, so we took the opportunity to pose a few potent questions to the library advisory board. The prevalent theme of this round of Qs was the discovery and usage of online resources.

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Photo by David Clarke on Unsplash

Question One
Exact Editions have recently been working closely with discovery partners to have our publishers’ content included in their services. How essential would you say being included on discovery platforms is in the modern library market? Does metadata supersede all other elements of resource discovery?

Response
This was a topic of hot debate with effectively two sides; library discovery platforms and Google. First, in favour of the library systems, the board agreed that they rely on high quality, consistent metadata to function to their best ability. They are also becoming more able to leverage full-text using semantic search which will facilitate external discovery, as well as allowing for the intuitive finding of resources in the library catalogue.

Other members of the board disagreed, they argued that library discovery layers are flawed as they are not designed according to how library patrons do their work, but for how librarians believe patrons (should) do their work. This is not to completely discredit library catalogues, it is important to have a presence, but the main platform for discovery is now Google.

Exact Editions hope to cover both angles — we work with several discovery partners to make our titles visible in library systems. We are also exploring Google’s Flexible Sampling feature which will increase discoverability in search results, whilst also allowing viewers limited access behind our paywalls so they can judge the relevance of the content.

Question Two
How important are usage statistics in the decision-making process for renewals? What other factors are there to consider?

Response
Again we received some interesting answers, with the general consensus being that whilst usage statistics are very important at a base level for evaluating resources (cost-per-use), they do not paint a full picture. The board agreed that usage data can be unreliable and inconsistent. To quote one member, “usage data not as a good metric, but as the best bad metric available to us.”

The other key factor to consider was the presence of faculty advocates, a niche but essential resource may have low usage but be incredibly important to a few users. The overarching conclusion was that any renewal decision will be made due to a variety of factors, rather than sole reliance on one metric like usage data.

Question Three
Are there better ways to guide readers and researchers to the riches of deep archives? Do we need to find supplementary ways of discovering themes and cognitive routes into the resources?

Response
As predicted, the main advice was to use SEO to catch the all-seeing eye of Google & Google Scholar. Further recommendations were to look into pathways for semantic search such as; thematic ontologies or trending topics. In fact, the Exact Editions tech team is currently developing a mind-map feature which will use text reading software to suggest related topics to readers. We hope this will encourage readers to travel back through the archives which contain a wealth of insight.

 

As you can see, this was a very productive round of questions and gave us a lot of food for thought. We’d like to reiterate our appreciation for the contribution of time and effort by the Library Advisory Board, it is great to get some inside perspectives from within the community.

If you’d like to join the conversation, please do get in touch via institutions@exacteditions.com

Exact Editions attends UKSG Meeting

Last week, Exact Editions had the pleasure of attending UKSG’s all-day event entitled ‘Introduction to E-resources Today’. We approached the event with the intention of learning more about the work of librarians so that we could further address the challenges they face and make their lives a little easier where possible.

First Seminar

To start the day, we listened to Mitchell Dunkley’s presentation, ‘Managing Journal Content in the Online World’. This was a well-constructed talk which explained the processes used by De Montfort University to organise their online resources. We were pleased to learn that the university had an e-first strategy where possible, and this depended on numerous factors, such as; cost vs. budget, academic relevancy, content format, accessibility and licensing. Naturally, this was very useful as we could learn what librarians search for when selecting journals.

A few points of the talk were of particular interest to Exact Editions. Firstly, that the university witnesses annual price increases for most journals, despite having a fixed budget, meaning that resources must be sacrificed each year. These cancellations will tend to be decided based on usage, which speaks volumes for the need to integrate resources in library discovery systems. Regarding price increases, the ethos of Exact Editions has always been to provide libraries with excellent resources at a fair price, reflected by the fact that prices have remained largely fixed for the last four years. We consider ourselves forerunners in the provision of sustainable electronic resources intended to facilitate learning rather than squeeze libraries for profit.

Secondly, and related to this, Mitchell emphasised that student experience is at the heart of service delivery. The aim of the library should be the maximise the usage and impact of the information resources available to students. According to Mitchell, ease of access is absolutely paramount in the selection process. Specifically mentioned was the need for seamless access across multiple devices as libraries are experiencing a rise in the variety of devices used by students. This was music to our ears as Exact Editions have invested lots of time and effort into ensuring that content is easily available across all devices. We believe that the more complicated a system is, the less likely students are to use it, so we try to keep it simple.

Second Seminar

Holly Purcell from IOP Publishing gave the second seminar, ‘The Business of E-Resources Publishing’. This was a little less relevant for Exact Editions, however, it offered an interesting insight into the world of scientific publishing. One aspect of the presentation which was of note was IOP’s strategy to provide librarians with bespoke campaigns for internal marketing.

This involves creating promotional material on behalf of the library such as infographics and posters, as well as designing social media posts and HTML email templates for internal circulation. These efforts resulted in more usage, higher renewal rates and positive feedback, and Exact Editions will certainly be looking into offering a similar service.

Third Seminar

After lunch (which was delicious), Anna Sansome from UCL spoke about ‘Managing E-Book Content’. Again, this is not really an area of expertise for Exact Editions, although we do work with a few specialised book publishers to offer complete collections to institutions. However, there was a segment of the seminar dedicated to the reasons for converting print resources to electronic when possible, which also applies to magazines. These included; convenience, time-saving, space-saving, accessibility and search functionality. This led on to a discussion of the best models for purchasing electronic resources, which Anna stated was unlimited access with no limit to concurrent users or number of users per year.

Exact Editions have consistently placed emphasis on search technology, and all archives on the site are fully-searchable by keyword. Our tech team is also developing an exciting new feature which will be with you later in 2018… Regarding the best purchasing model, we have always preferred to offer subscribing institutions unlimited access to resources, the reason being that we want universities to use our resources to their utmost potential.

Fourth Seminar

The fourth, and final, talk of the day was concerning ‘Intermediaries and their Services’ by Richard Bramwell from EBSCO. As a content provider, Exact Editions work closely with several intermediaries in the purchasing process and management of subscriptions on behalf of universities. This was an interesting talk which stressed the challenges currently facing intermediaries, as well as the solutions that are being implemented.

Richard talked about the numerous factors which are squeezing the industry such as; pressure on library budgets, the sustainability of open access publishing and global economic fluctuations. He stated that EBSCO is having to adapt to the library market in order to continue providing excellent service to their 50,000 customers around the world. We agree that it is a fast-paced environment, which is why we strive to stay abreast of technological developments and movements within the industry.

It is important, as a content provider, to understand the role intermediaries play in the library market, as they often have many available services. Exact Editions works closely with several companies to facilitate the purchasing of and discoverability of resources. However, we also understand that we must be independent and flexible, and conduct a lot of business directly with institutions, as well as being constantly on the search for innovative technological solutions to the challenges libraries face. We welcome any suggestions or feedback, to chat with us please email institutions@exacteditions.com

Overall

In whole, the day offered much food for thought for the Exact Editions team. UKSG did a fantastic job of organising the event and encouraging discussion between librarians, intermediaries and publishers, whose professions can sometimes seem very separate despite inhabiting the same eco-system.

Follow UKSG on Twitter: https://twitter.com/UKSG
Follow Exact Editions on Twitter: https://twitter.com/exacteditions

Let’s Call an End to the War between Print and Digital?

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Stockholm Public Library. Image via Pixabay.

There’s no doubt that the 21st-century library is gradually transforming from an information hub into a digital learning environment, and with this change, there has been a trend of architectural renovations to accommodate digital natives. To create room, libraries are moving massive print collections from their shelves into remote storage, compact shelving or automatic retrieval systems. Naturally, this has resulted in the usage statistics of print resources dropping, whilst digital usage continues to rise exponentially.

Now, as a digital magazine platform, you’d probably expect us at Exact Editions to be rubbing our hands together in glee, but that’s not the case. We are strong believers that print and digital resources exist in a symbiotic relationship. Of course, some readers prefer the print copy, and others prefer digital, and that is their prerogative. Perhaps we are being romantic, but a library without shelves of books just doesn’t seem right.

This leads us back to the original point of the article. Why are libraries investing huge sums of money on building renovations when digital collections require no physical space? Especially considering those digital resources can be accessed anywhere and anytime on any device by students and staff. That is one of the primary USPs of digital resources — the unlimited accessibility. So what’s the impetus for change? I think there is a sense of apprehension in the library industry, that the physical building is being replaced by a digital construct, and so they are trying to attract people with study spaces.

This departs from the emphasis on content which was so central to libraries in the past. Instead, the industry is leaning towards providing collaborative work areas, encouraging group study and creative sessions, rather than being a place for students to find information. Again, we are not against the development of library-provided technology (such as 3D printers, recording studios and group study rooms), but must the shelves be sacrificed? Why can’t these areas be located elsewhere in the university, or in a new building?

There is a dangerous trend of libraries thinking they must replace the shelves with digital-friendly workspaces, when in fact they risk ripping out the heart of the library. This does not need to happen, there is a choice. Digital collections are designed to supplement print resources, think of them as the left atrium, which exists in the cloud, beating in tandem to support the library system.

We’d like to see libraries turn their focus back to content acquisition, and providing their users with the widest range of information possible. There is certainly a demand for a productive learning environment which must be met, but libraries should not depart from their roots. Libraries are intended to connect people with content, not replace content with people.

Exact Editions 2017 — It’s a Wrap!

First set

With a new year on the horizon, now is the perfect time to kick back, relax and bunker down for winter. But before you do that, it’s worth thinking about how much you’ve achieved this year and what you can do better next year.

Exact Editions can look back at 2017 fondly as a record-breaking number of libraries around the world are now accessing magazines and their archives using the platform. We have been exceptionally busy from January to December; acquiring a plethora of new and diverse titles (which we’re showing off in this post), developing extensive archives, adding useful technical features; and, of course, starting this new blog stream for librarians!

Second set

As you can see, there has been an increased focus on engagement with our users and improving the user experience. For example, check out our blog detailing the best ways to make the most of your Exact Editions subscription: The Holy Grail.

third set

Some of our 2017 highlights:

  • Perpetual Access — Several more magazines are now available to purchase with Perpetual Access. Exact Editions offer a uniquely comprehensive product for libraries, with purchases including the complete archive of the magazine as well as all future issues.
    The full list of participating publishers can be found here: https://institutions.exacteditions.com/showcases/perpetual
  • Library Board — This year, Exact Editions have enlisted the wisdom of several leading librarians and industry experts, who will be consulted on a bi-annual basis to offer thoughts on two or three important topics.
    You can read the introductory blog post here.
  • K-Bart — With improved metadata offerings, Exact Editions are continuously working to ensure that our content is becoming increasingly straightforward to find within library management systems. We’re doing whatever we can to make your lives just that little bit easier!

fourth set

So, what’s in the pipeline for 2018?

  • MARC Records — MARC Records are available for all our titles and can be requested from the start of 2018. This should improve Exact Editions’ catalogue compatibility and discoverability, which in turn should raise usage statistics and content visibility.
  • COUNTER Compliant Usage Statistics — Speaking of usage, another primary goal of 2018 will be to make our stats available on COUNTER. We are aware this is a favoured platform for librarians, and we are keen to migrate our statistics over to COUNTER so that we can offer as much transparency as possible.
  • Library Q&A thread — We will be conducting brief interviews with librarians to talk about periodicals, the growth of digital resources and what they hope for in the future. Would you like to participate? Get in touch with us to give your opinions on the industry.
  • RA21 — Exact Editions very recently attended a conference about the RA21 project, which aims to optimise institutional access to online resources, with a particular focus on remote usage. We will continue to keep updated with potential alternatives to IP-authentication in 2018 and will post any news on our blog.
    Read more about RA21 here: https://ra21.org/index.php/what-is-ra21/
  • Content Acquisition — As always there will be a strong drive for new content on the site across a variety of subjects. If there’s a particular magazine you’d like to see on the platform in 2018, why not recommend it to us via: institutions@exacteditions.com.

We’ll be back in 2018 with regular updates.

From everyone at Exact Editions, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

fifth set

Use our Search Technology to get the most out of your Subscription

Did you know that your Exact Editions subscription includes unlimited and free access to unique searching tools both online and in the Apps? Ideal for academic research, the technology allows you to quickly locate topics throughout a magazine’s archive. This can be particularly useful for Universities and Libraries, with each of the various functions specifically designed to help readers get the most out of the available content.

To get started, just sign in using your Exact Editions account details and select the title in which you wish to search. To narrow down a search when using one of the Apps, you can select a ‘stack’ to limit results to a particular decade or year. Also using the App, you can try out the search functions before buying a subscription.

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To make search results more precise, the technology incorporates three of the primary Boolean search operators (explained below). Click here to learn about Boolean search and here for a  more comprehensive list of Boolean functions.

1. Search for a Single Word or Combination of Words

This is as straight forward as it sounds; simply enter words into the field in the top right hand corner of the screen and click ‘Search’. This provides you with a complete list of results within the selected issue, title or time frame. Entering more than one word will bring up all pages that include each of the entered words, for example all pages that include London AND Concerto AND Orchestra:

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2. Search Using a Dash to Exclude Words

By placing a dash symbol directly before the second word of a search, your results will show all archive pages that display the first word but not the second. For example, entering Philharmonic -Orchestra will bring up all pages that include the word Philharmonic but not the word Orchestra:

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3. Either or Both: Search Using a Vertical Bar

Entering vertical bars, or ‘pipe’ symbols, into your search activates the “Either or Both” search function. To do this, place the symbol directly before all entered words. For example, searching for |Philharmonic |Concerto will provide you with all pages that include EITHER Philharmonic or Concerto or BOTH of these words.

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Using a Combination of Boolean Search Functions

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, you can narrow down your search even further by combining the three functions explained above. For example, combine the Standard Search with the Dash & Vertical Bar functions:

London |Philharmonic |Concerto -Orchestra

Pages MUST include London, EITHER Philharmonic or Concerto or BOTH, EXCLUDES Orchestra

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Search Using Quotation Marks

Just like searching on Google, you can also use the technology to track down a specific term or phrase mentioned anywhere in the archive by placing the words in the correct order between quotation marks. This function is perfect for finding topic-specific terms instantly:

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Use the App to Save your Searches as Bookmarks

Finally, once you have completed your search and found what you are looking for, you can save the results as bookmarks for future reference. To save individual pages, simply click on the Actions button in the top left hand corner of the screen, followed by the Bookmarks Icon. This will bring up a new window entitled ‘Add Bookmark’, giving you the possibility to assign it a name and save it. Once this is done, your new Bookmark will appear under the Bookmarks tab for speedy access:

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To save all search results as Bookmarks, select the option “Bookmark All” which appears at the top of the Search Results window. This will automatically create a new folder within the Bookmarks tab containing your search results:

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The “Bookmark All” function is particularly useful when, as shown above, a very large number of results is returned. By using this function, you can easily check through and refer back to previous research without having to repeat the process.

Why not take a look at the extensive archives offered by some of our publishing partners? Click on the banners below to visit our Institutional Shop:

1121 back issues:

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411 back issues:

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389 back issues: 

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To learn more about getting the most out of an archive or database when carrying out research, we suggest consulting this informative piece on Searching Article Databases

If you have any questions about searching in an archive, or if you have any feedback about the functions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by sending an email to support@exacteditions.com.

Happy searching!

March 2015