Re: E-Journal admin costs (Rollo Turner) David Goodman 21 Jan 2003 17:06 UTC

The serious part of the work is the statistics, the correlation with the
print, and the entering of the items in the catalog. As for the
statistics, no would could really organize them as current received, and
we need to wait for COUNTER. How long it will will then take for the
statistics to be in a condition for automatic handling each month I do
not know--and I'm on COUNTER's Executive Committee. Certainly not 03.

The other aspects are being handled nicely by sfx, linkfinder plus, and
other similar products. They do not do it all yet, but they do a great
deal. They do take a lot of local configuration--I'm on the group at
Princeton which is slowly doing this for our system. A service for
outsourcing this would be nice, but it requires knowledge and access to
each libraries ILS. I believe at least one agent already offers at least
part of such a system.

Other things that would might be offered is the equivalent of claiming:
when something doesn't work, we could call the agent. Now we call the
publisher or distributor. But here the problem is the time scale. Unlike
print, people notice problems with e-journals very quickly. We would
need turn around time measured in minutes, not days.

One little thing you could do right now: get all publishers to include
both print and electronic ISSNs.
and, while you're at it, get ISSNs for the few titles without them.

SERIALST Moderator wrote:
> Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2002 09:36:55 +0100
> From: Rollo Turner <>
> Subject: Re: E-Journal admin costs
>  Counting the cost of e-journal admin
> Has anyone out there stopped to measure the costs of administering
> e-journals?  By this I mean the cost of subscription management and
> access provision. It seems to me that as the process of acquiring
> journals changes a great deal of simplicity is being lost with consequent
> and often quite substantial impacts on cost.
> As a result the ASA is interested in how we can ease this process, and
> would welcome feedback on the following (and will be happy to share any
> results with the list):
>  1. Have your costs for e-Journal admin risen over the last year &
> roughly by  how much?
>  2. Do you see this increasing/decreasing over the next year?
>  3. In which areas does your agent help most/least currently?
>  4. If there were additional resources available from your agent where
> these would be best targeted?
>  The background on this is that libraries now buy their electronic
> journals in a number of different ways - from the normal subscription
> process through an agent to consortium deals no two of which ever seem to
> be similar let alone the same! In some cases however the journals
> publishers request that the journals must be ordered directly - even when
> the library may have preferred to use an agent. Others are acquired
> through consortia but may be paid for by the individual members through
> an agent, directly or through the consortium. The so-called Big Deal with
> deep discount prices has also greatly increased the administrative
> complexity for everyone concerned, they tie in funds for lengthy periods
> of time and may, if budgets are suddenly reduced, force libraries to
> cancel titles from smaller and high quality society publishers to keep
> some of these Big Deals going.
>  These different means of acquiring content mean that each individual
> library has had to assume more control over the management and reporting
> on the electronic journals taken. This is a role that is generally
> performed by subscription agents who have the necessary infrastructure
> available to provide value-added services such as special billing
> arrangements, interfacing to library ILS services and management
> reporting. Instead if each library is now doing more not less
> subscription administration the overall costs are likely to rise in terms
> of staff time and resources especially if libraries have to set up their
> own systems.
>  Agents costs will also rise if more and more electronic titles are
> handled direct at the insistence of the publishers (generally the larger
> publishers) leaving agents to handle the specialist, more varied and
> widely scattered smaller publishers. According to the UK Competition
> Commission, the big six publishers account for about 66% of all
> expenditure on STM journals for UK libraries. If their titles are removed
> from the agency list, the average cost per subscription will increase
> very significantly and, obviously, additional costs will eventually be
> reflected in their bills to libraries.
>  With this trend and pricing models requiring a variety of different
> means of handling electronic journals, the complexity and cost of
> handling subscriptions may well be increasing much faster than we
> currently know.  Agents of course were put on this earth to help reduce
> the libraries costs and administration enabling them to reduce the amount
> of unproductive administration performed by skilled individuals. It seems
> this sensible approach has gone into reverse!
>  Isn't it time we thought about simplifying the system, so that once
> again it can be handled by properly qualified intermediaries to the
> benefit of all?  This may require agents having to learn new and
> sometimes costly skills, publishers agreeing to work with them on
> electronic journals as they do with paper, and agents and consortia
> agreeing to cooperate more closely in the future.
>  If the customers want this to happen, the suppliers will eventually
> provide it. And it would be good for publishers since it would make it
> simpler for them to sell their journals individually or in packages to
> their clients in a well managed supply chain, thus reducing their
> administration costs also (publishers subscription management costs may
> also have increased by between 5 and 15% according to Sally Morris). In
> short, such a move would be worth it financially to everyone.
>  Rollo Turner
>  Secretary General
>  Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries
>  <>
> PS apologies for cross posting

Dr. David Goodman
Princeton University Library
Palmer School of Library and Information Science, Long Island University