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    Decisions about specific titles

    In addition to comparing the total number of subscriptions for an institution with the optimal number, we can also identify the optimality for each particular title subscribed. We calculate, based on observed usage and prices, which titles an institution with perfect foresight should have obtained through traditional subscriptions, and call this the optimal set. Then we calculate two measures of actual behavior. First, we determine which titles in the optimal set an institution actually purchased. Second, we determine which traditional subscription titles the institution would have been better off foregoing because actual access would have been less expensive using other available access products.

    In Table 6.13 we present our analysis of the traditional subscription titles selected by institutions. There is wide variation both in the percent of purchased subscriptions that are in the optimal set, and in the percent of journals in the optimal set to which the institution did not subscribe,[26] Overall, there is substantial opportunity for improvement. This is not a criticism of institutional decisions. Rather, it indicates the opportunity for improved purchasing decisions if libraries obtain the type of detailed usage information PEAK provided.

    We do generally see better decisions in 1999. However, in both years a rather large percentage of subscribed journals were not accessed at all.

    Table 6.13: Optimality of subscription choices
    Institution Year Total subscriptions Percent subscribed that are in optimal set Percent of optimal set that were not subscribed Percent of subscriptions accessed at least once
    3 1998 907 53.3% 3.4% 92.5%
    10 1998 23 0.0% 100.0% 65.2%
    11 1998 663 3.6% 0.0% 84.5%
    12 1998 22 0.0% 100.0% 81.8%
    13 1998 205 0.5% 0.0% 12.7%
    14 1998 72 0.0% N/A 36.1%
    15 1998 102 0.0% N/A 48.0%
    3 1999 907 75.0% 7.7% 97.0%
    10 1999 23 13.0% 76.9% 65.2%
    13 1999 205 29.8% 62.6% 86.8%
    14 1999 72 0.0% N/A 20.8%
    15 1998 102 10.8% 8.3% 84.3%