Uncover Reveal Alert Summary Joan Ellen Stein 05 Feb 1996 14:38 UTC

Several people sent me mail requesting that I post the results of the
survey of Uncover Reveal Alert site license holders which I posted way
back in November, 1995.  Here is my original message:

>We are considering replacing our manual Current Awareness Service
>(tables-of-contents) with a commercial electronic service.  I would like
>to speak (or write) to individuals from any libraries which have Uncover
>Reveal site licenses and are offering this service to their users.
>Specifically, I'd like to know how you are keeping track of who has
>signed up, how you handle it when someone leaves your institution, and
>whether or not you are charging your users for this service (and, if so,
>how you are handling this).  Please contact me personally, so we don't
>clutter up the list.  I will be happy to summarize the responses for the
>list if people express an interest in the results.
>Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

 I heard from ten different places who were using the Reveal Alert
Service site license offered by CARL.  Of these ten, eight specifically
stated that they do not charge their users for using the library's site
license to receive tables of contents.  Two respondents didn't mention
anything about charges so I don't know for certain if they charge or
don't charge.  There were several reasons given for providing this
service free of charge to the user community.  One person summed up the
reasons very well by stating that "Reveal is part of our program to
support extended access to information resources via document delivery
and electronic services in lieu of extensive serial holdings."  In
addition, providing the service free creates good will for the library
on campus and eliminates the necessity of keeping detailed records for
billing purposes.  From personal experience I can add that it is much
easier and less time consuming not to charge as well.

  CMU Libraries is charging our users who want accounts through our
Reveal Alert site license.  An individual annual subscription through
CARL costs $20.00  We are charging our users $15.00 annually to be part
of our license.  We intend only to recover costs and if we determine
that we have enough subscribers to the service to offer it at a lower
rate and still cover the cost of the license, then we will lower the
price next year.  We keep a record of all profiles that we create, along
with user and billing information about each.  We use that record to do
the annual billing and to have a list of paid, current subscribers which
we can compare against any lists we ask CARL to generate of Reveal Alert
users subscribed under our site license.  Yes, it is possible for a
member of our campus community to sign on to Reveal Alert without going
through the library and giving us their billing information.  If the
email address in their user profile is in the CMU domain, then they will
be counted as being part of our site license.  We expect to be able to
surface those users not registered through the Libraries by having CARL
generate lists periodically of all users under our domain.  If the names
on the CARL list are not also on our list, then we will contact them and
straighten it out (idealistic, aren't I).

  The majority of libraries with Reveal Alert site licenses take on the
task of creating profiles and adding the desired titles to that profile
for their users.  CARL does provide site license holders  with detailed
instructions for creating profiles, adding titles for the contents alert
service, and setting up stored search strategies.  These instructions
can be copied and sent out to users.  A few libraries (CMU included)
create the profiles for their users, but do not add the list of titles
to that profile that will trigger the tables of contents alerting
service.  Users are instructed to do that themselves.

  Every respondent expressed general satisfaction with the Reveal Alert
service, although since the tables of contents go directly to users'
email accounts, the library only hears about difficulties with the
service if users bring their complaints to them.  Certain disadvantages
to electronic tables of contents services did emerge.  These include:

1. a 75 character limit for stored search strategies (this is
essentially a way to select tables of contents based on subject rather
than journal title).

2. search strategies only search words in title (no subject headings or
descriptors exist), so if the title doesn't really reflect the content
of the article, then the user is not alerted to the article.

3. confusion can arise over who is responsible for charges incurred when
users order articles on CARL.

4. Uncover may not contain all the titles that your library subscribes
to and that your users may want contents from.

  I received several worthwhile suggestions from people that I will
reproduce here:

1.  Designate one person as the site license coordinator who will act as
the contact person for CARL and for your users.

2. One location recommended sending a memo to all of your subscribers
stressing the following points:
  * the tables of contents come directly from CARL and the library never
sees them.  If there are problems, please bring them to the library's
  * articles you learn about through the alerting service may be
available free of charge from your library's collection or through your
interlibrary loan department.  If you order them through CARL, you are
responsible for any charges incurred.

3. Be very careful of typos when creating profiles, especially when
entering the email address.

4. One location requires users of Reveal Alert to complete a profile
registration form.  This form includes blanks for the user's name, email
address, department, campus address, campus phone number, fax number,
password, etc.  They use this form to create the user's profile on CARL.
 Once the profile is created, they send instructions on using Reveal
Alert along with the profile number and password.  (I liked this ideas,
so that's what we're doing here at Carnegie Mellon, too).

  Here's a recommendation of my own. I would like to point out something
to any library that may be considering charging their users for this
service. Your institution may already have several people on campus who
already have profiles in CARL's Uncover database.  These profiles may
represent users who are signed up and are paying customers of the Reveal
Alert service or they may just be profiles that someone uses to order
the occassional article from Uncover.  They could also represent long
dead accounts that the person who created it has already forgotten about
(no, CARL doesn't purge these profiles, ever, unless asked to do so).
If these profiles have an email address in them that is in your domain,
then their profile will be counted when CARL determines your number of
subscribers.  Of course, the cost of your site license is based on the
number of subscribers with your domain name in their email address, so
it is in your best interests to clean out any "dead" profiles and to
eliminate email addresses from profiles that are only used to order
articles.  CARL does not help you with this in any way, except to follow
the instructions you give them about these accounts.  CARL does not go
into each profile in your domain to tell you if the profile holder is a
paid, current subscriber to Reveal Alert or not.  You need to take care
of this yourself, and it can be time consuming.  In Carnegie Mellon's
case, I discovered we had 97 people who already had profiles on CARL
before we bought a site license.  Only seventeen of these represented
current subscribers, who then became part of the Libraries' site
license.  The other eighty profiles were either deleted or had the email
address stripped from them.  In order not to delete any paid accounts, I
had to contact each profile holder for information.  I did it via email,
but it still took a while and confused people no end.

  I did hear from one location who decided against the site license
because they didn't think they would have enough users to make it worth
their while.  Instead, they subsidize individual subscriptions to Reveal
Alert.  This has so far proved cost effective for them.

  I want to thank everyone who responded for their time and their
suggestions and input.  If anyone has any further questions, please feel
free to contact me.

Joan Ellen Stein
Head, Resource Sharing
Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
Hunt Library, Frew Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213

(412) 268-5826 office phone
(412 268-6944 fax