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How Libraries' Hone Electronic Resource Collections

by Samantha Silver on 2024-05-24T10:10:00-07:00 in General | 0 Comments

As most researchers know, the MSMU Libraries provide access to a plethora of electronic resources.

databases a-z snippet

Our collection includes databases containing books, journals, magazine and newspaper articles, primary sources, and films.  We provide access to subscribed databases, which are licensed annually, purchased databases, where MSMU owns perpetual (life of the resource) access to all content and open access databases, which are available to all persons for free.  We supplement these collections by providing links to databases to which local public libraries subscribe.  Students and Faculty can connect to their local libraries, like LAPL, for free to access resources that are not within the MSMU Libraries' budget.

But, how do we decide which databases to keep in our e-resources portfolio from year to year?  With balance and patience and lots of data, of course!

Each year, we acquire reports of usage data from the previous year, taking into account the terms of our subscriptions.  For example, some subscriptions align with the calendar year (i.e. January-December) while others align with a different range (i.e. September - August).  We compare the prior year's usage to the usage from several years earlier.   We look for patterns in the usage data (i.e. a sudden drop in articles retrieved or far more searches than retrievals).  A marked usage decrease with a high cost-per-use (i.e. cost per each item retrieved) leads us to connect with academic departments to determine their needs for a specific database.  Sometimes, the ensuing communication leads to increased marketing and/or training sessions in database usage. Other times, it leads us to cancel the database since research needs and class assignments have changed, and the resource is no longer relevant for the Mount community.

Note: we try to keep cost-per-use below $50 per item.  But this also depends on the size of the department and/or the number of other resources that support that department.

Whenever possible, we take personal preference into account.  If we are reviewing two low-use databases that support one department, we will consider the impact of canceling each one on the stakeholders and keep the one with the most potential to enhance student learning.  We look at other facets like full-text availability and user interface/experience, too.  Furthermore, if a professor puts their stamp of approval on a database, we will keep it until it becomes fiscally unsustainable.

This annual review also leads to database trials, in which the library arranges for the community to access databases for a limited period of time.  During these trials - such as our recent review of Passport 100 and One Business - we collect feedback from stakeholders on new and/or less pricey resources that can replace resources in the current collection.  We hope that all stakeholders participate in these trials as it is an important method of discovering which electronic resources support our students' learning objectives.

With our limited budget - and rising costs of resources - we want to ensure that we provide the most valuable resources possible.  As a smaller institution, working with SCELC, our consortium, helps us to negotiate lower prices for some prized resources.

We always accept suggestions for new electronic resources.  Though we cannot promise to add your suggested databases, we will certainly consider them by investigating their availability for licensing by academic institutions and obtaining pricing options.  We welcome partnerships between the Libraries and other departments.  And, donations (i.e. a year's access to a film or a Flipster magazine) are appreciated.

Which Library databases do YOU value most? Please tell us in the comments!


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