Understanding historical entitlements to journals (or not)

Along side the work that we’ve been doing for KB+ to make sure that we have accurate data on the titles included in 2012 NESLi2 agreements, JISC Collections has been working with EDINA on a scoping study for an Entitlement Registry and PECAN2. These projects are almost at an end with final reports due in mid-April – and we are currently running workshops with institutions to review what has been done and what institutional priorities might be.

This work is very closely aligned with KB+, providing a historical record of title coverage, institutional subscriptions and post-cancellation access rights for NESLi2 agreements.

Unfortunately, as so often seems to be the case, this is easier said than done.

As one librarian said, at any one time there seem to be atleast 3 different records of what titles an institution subscribes to: the institution, the publisher and the subscription agent. Trying to reach agreement on this is enormously time consuming, but it also appears to be work that has to be repeated year in, year out at enormous cost and effort on all sides.

Now, some may say that this isn’t important and no one is claiming that there are huge issues with access to subscribed content, but I think there are some important reasons why as a community we should have a solid understanding of what we do and don’t have rights to:

  1. Institutional knowledge – at the moment many institutions have to ask third parties for information on what that institution has and hasn’t subscribed to, yet they seldom have huge faith in the answers that they receive from those external partners.
  2. Best practice – at a very simple level it makes sense to understand what has been purchased and what rights one has to that content. From a licensing perspective, it should be up to institutions, publishers and those who act on their behalf such as JISC Collections, to make sure that the licences are clear on this.
  3. Understanding an offer – being able to understand the impact of an offer and any decisions you may wish to make about cancellations, renewals, substitutions etc requires a knowledge of what the impact on access will be.
  4. Transition to electronic and relegation of print – uncertainty about post-cancellation access rights is a barrier to institutions when considering getting rid of their print collections or fully moving to electronic.
  5. Decision making – time repeatedly spent working out what has been purchased and what rights apply to it, is time that isn’t spent on more important decisions about collection development, improving the user experience or considering the nature of the library service that will be delivered.
  6. Improved services – being able to make accurate records of this information available could provide an opportunity for subscription agents, systems vendors, publishers and negotiating bodies to improve the services that they can provide to institutions.

However, we are where we are and the amount of work involved in putting this right is considerable, but based on the work undertaken so far and the valuable feedback from institutions we are starting to understand some priorities and some practical ways of achieving these that could be beneficial to all.

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3 thoughts on “Understanding historical entitlements to journals (or not)

  1. Pingback: Hitting a moving target : ejournals, subscription agents and holdings | eLibrary

  2. Pingback: Journal Subscriptions and renewals « JISC HIKE Project

  3. Pingback: Journal Subscriptions and renewals | JISC HIKE Project

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