Summary of Survey Responses re. "A Show of Hands?" Tony Schwartz 18 Dec 1995 22:35 UTC

              Summary of Responses to "A Show of Hands?"

On Dec. 12 I posted a survey asking who has undertaken analysis
of periodical collections focusing on cost-per-use of low-use
periodicals for the purpose of making access versus ownership

The overall responses included 55 "yes's," one "I am tired of
Internet surveys" (gee, thanks for the input), and a few "it
sounds interesting."

Particularly thankful were some articles faxed by Chuck Hamaker
at LSU, Kate McCain at Drexel U., and Dorothy Milne at Memorial

Overall, however, Internet responses did not convey the idea that
cost-per-use has become a professional norm, or even that some of
the "yes" respondents actually appreciate it.  Two kinds of
responses suggest otherwise.

First, only a few libraries (e.g., Calif. Poly. State U. and
Rochester Inst. of Tech.) indicated that they had reinvested
monies saved into new serials.  Everyone else apparently did it
"just" to cut budgets.  In that sense, there was very little
"pro-active" use of cost-per-use analysis for the purpose of
being cost-effective or to reinvigorate collections.

Considering the likely savings involved--hundreds of thousands of
dollars for libraries that take cost-per-use analysis seriously
(e.g., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY; NASA in Cleveland; U.
Southern Florida at Tampa), it's a shame that relatively few
libraries undertake it.

The other kind of response that was somewhat perplexing had to do
with arbitrary steps that librarians take to undercut the whole
rationale for systematic cost-per-unit analysis.

Some respondents said that they used this method only for the
most expensive titles (those over $500 or $1,000).  As a rule,
low-use, high cost-per-use titles have average subscription
prices (rather than being the most expensive ones).

Other respondents said that cancellations were predetermined to
be only 5-10% of the collection.  Low-use, high cost-per-use
titles, however, typically take up 30-40% of a collection.

For a kick on how much can be done to make periodicals management
cost-effective and tightly coupled to document delivery, read
about LSU's experience in _Forbes_ (12/18/95, pp. 200-201).

For a good how-to-do-it guide, see Dorothy Milne's article in
Jan. 1995 _Lib. Resources & Tech. Services_.

Heartfelt thanks to those 60 respondents for your time and

Tony Schwartz

Assistant Director for Collection Development
Healey Library
University of Massachusetts at Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA  02125-3393
617-287-5923 voice, fax 617-287-5950