Economics and Usage of Digital Libraries: Byting the BulletSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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In the Technical Services department, the transition to e-journals has had a direct impact on the day-to-day work of each staff member. Changes in workflow and procedures are dramatic, with very large shifts in costs. It is clear that the significant reduction in print titles has directly decreased workload related to the print format. Less time is needed to check in print issues, claim non-arrivals, replace missing pages, and prepare and receive bindery shipments. Also, direct costs for cataloging new print titles and maintaining existing MARC records (OCLC charges) have been reduced. Bindery fees are also reduced accordingly.
Offsetting the decrease in activity levels and costs related to the print format is a large increased workload for both the serials acquisitions and cataloging functions related to providing access to electronic journals. Updating the e-journal maintenance database that now creates our e-journal lists is a major new task. The e-journal collection is much more volatile than a print collection: links break, coverage changes, and sometimes the electronic journals themselves are available through a new distributor. An advantage of electronic distribution that creates extra work is that we are not bound to calendar-year-only subscriptions, so journals are added continuously and sometimes discontinued during the year.
Another activity that has greatly affected Technical Services is an expanded review process for journal renewals that includes the IS librarians (each represents the various colleges in the University). During the past two years we have evaluated every journal title — print and electronic — before it is renewed. The coordination and tracking of the renewal decisions has increased significantly.
Not only has the format of materials shifted, but the volume of materials has increased more than three-fold. We are now managing over 6,000 journal titles as opposed to 1,700 titles two years ago. Unfortunately, we are not always able to switch existing staff to e-journal tasks. In the process of "re-engineering" the entire department, we upgraded two positions, added one temporary position, and replaced one position. We now require detail-oriented support staff who have advanced computer skills and who can adjust to continuous changes in procedures and methods as our environment evolves.