Re: Journal evaluation David Goodman 30 Aug 2002 19:58 UTC

At research universities, I think that any approach that depends
directly on the faculty is unwise and inappropriate.  On the other hand,
the faculty are the ultimate sources of all the selection decisions, but
only indirectly.

The role of the faculty in a university is to determine the research and
educational program. They do this by teaching, directing student work,
engaging in research, and directing research. In the course of this
program, journal articles and other documents will be needed by the
students, researchers, and faculty, and it is the role of the library to
provide them. The users determine what they need. We measure what they
ask for and what they use, and determine how to provide it.
We are obligated not merely to provide everything they want, but to
provide it as rapidly as they desire it. There will always be resource
limitations here, and we must determine priorities in the way we meet
their needs. These priorities are based in part by the status of the
user and the expressed urgency, but  even more critically upon the
practicalities of obtaining the material.

In the case of journal articles, especially in science, the clear
expectation of the users is that the articles  be available immediately
, in electronic form, and at the user's workstation-- whether it be
office, lab, residence, or even the library. There are now a number of
ways of doing: consortial arrangements, blanket orders, individual
electronic subscriptions, individual purchases of articles, and
conventional interlibrary loan. The librarian sees the needs of the
entire community, and should be aware of the alternatives available and
their costs --and is certainly aware of the budget available. The
individual user sees his individual needs, is not aware of the
alternatives and their costs, and hasn't much sense of the total

There, the librarian must select which of the materials the user needs
should be obtained through subscription. This requires that he know what
the user needs, and the user generally is very much of the opinion that
no librarian possibly can. Any librarian can measure the extent to which
the users actually use different sources. Don't do a survey of what they
say they need--measure what the use.

Once the user is assured that the library will provide the materials,
they shouldn't need to involve themselves about how, but can go about
their proper work.  But this requires that we do serve them as they
require, not just pretend to. Conventional ILL for journal articles is
not adequate service, at least for most users in the

When I started selecting, at first I made my decisions, and then asked
the faculty if it was ok. I soon realized that I could decide whether
they would say yes or no by choosing whom I asked: some people would
always say yes, and some always say no. If left up to themselves in a
questionnaire, most never answered, but just complained afterwards.  I
also recognized a pattern of people saying yes, you can drop this, and
then objecting a year later that we had done so. At that point, I
started making my own decisions based on what I measured, and then
informed them. After they trusted me a little more, now I make my
decisions, and if it turns out that I'm wrong, they'll tell me, and I'll
add it back. (However, any really dissatisfied users don't bother to
complain; they get their articles from a friend at another
university--the ones who do complain are not representative. Judge by
what you can see for yourself and measure, not by what you are told.)

Carol Morse wrote:
> I have not done this on a big scale, but occasionally with certain
> departments.  Some faculty members understand the need to cancel unused
> print subscriptions, but many are unwilling.  Some don't like to use the
> computer, etc., or resist any kind of change.  They don't come over and
> use the journals themselves, and don't require the students to do so,
> either, but they don't want any titles taken from their lists!  Good
> luck.
> Carol Morse
> ********************************************************************************
> Carol Morse                                                  Tel.  509)
> 527-2684
> Serials Librarian                                             Fax 509)
> 527-2001
> Walla Walla College Library                     Email
> 104 S.W. Adams St.
> College Place, WA  99324-1586
> Give us strength for the journey and wisdom to know the way.
> ********************************************************************************
> >>> spschleper@STCLOUDSTATE.EDU 08/27/02 09:40AM >>>
> To Serialst:
> As budgets shrink and journal prices rise - St. Cloud State University
> =
> is trying to reconfigure how we access the journals we need to support
> =
> the curriculum here.  One of the things that I am hoping to do is
> survey =
> or contact in some way each of the colleges at our university to get =
> some kind of feedback about what is useful to our faculty and what kind
> =
> of compromises or adjustments they are willing to make so that our =
> dollars will stretch further.
> Has anyone on the list done this type of survey or serials evaluation?
> =
> We hope to make it an annual thing - taking one college (we have 5 =
> academic colleges) each year and evaluating how we are doing with =
> getting the journals they need.
> As of now, I plan to develop a survey to get some idea of how faculty
> =
> perceive the services in the serials dept. and accompany that with an
> =
> "information packet" that would actually be an analysis of journals we
> =
> get in print with information on their electronic counterpart.  One of
> =
> the motivations for this is that our electronic holdings are used many
> =
> time more than our print journals.  In addition, we spend about 3 times
> =
> as much on print journals (about 1500 titles) as we do on electronic =
> titles (about 15,000 titles). =20
> I appreciate any feedback I can get from the list. =20
> Susan Schleper
> Serials Librarian
> St. Cloud State University, MN

David Goodman
Research Librarian and
Biological Science Bibliographer
Princeton University Library
Princeton, NJ 08544-0001
phone: 609-258-7785
fax: 609-258-2627