January 29, 2007

Electronic Resource - Gartner

In fall of 2004, we at the library were approached to participate in bring the electronic resources of the Gartner Group to campus. An agreement of understanding was drawn up between the Business School, Information Science, CyberCollege, Computing Services, and the Library. Each of the units would contribute significantly to the price tag while the library would take on the administration and maintenance of the contract and resource.

In spring of 2005, the proposal to purchase the resource went the the legislature. -- Yes, in Arkansas, any purchase over $20,000 has to be approved directly by the legislature. -- Members of the agreement of understanding went to the floor of the state congress and obtained the approval to sign the two-year contract.

At our price point, we received the following with our contract - 2 seats at a Gartner conference, Research Analyst assistance, unlimited access for the campus to their online resources, and a monthly audio newsletter for the collection. The library commenced to setup the requisite PGP authentication required by Gartner as well as logging. Access was provided to the campus through validation with their network login and password - thus allowing access to all university affiliated patrons no matter their location. Once established, a couple of the core participants started to use the resources as an integral part of their instruction.

During the course of the first year, the Computing Services department experienced some issues with the Research Analyst assistance. While working on a portal implementation project amongst many others, they ran into roadblocks in how to most effectively use this service. What they had been hoping for was that anyone from the Computing Service department would be allowed to call and use this service to aid in the research behind starting a new project. What they experienced was a need for the actual seat holder - in this case the CIO - to be present on each phone call that was being made. In addition, the assistance that was received was limited to 30 minute sessions and ended in the university staff member simply being pointed to appropriate online resources, not being given a consolidation or analysis of what the literature said.

When the renewal for year two approached, Computing Services began to mention that they would not be renewing the contract. At this point, the library started working with the other players to see where they stood on the resource. The two academic units that had integrated the resource into their curriculum were very strong for renewing the contract. The third unit found itself in a budgetary quandary and would not be able to continue its support. Between it and Computing Services, this left a shortfall of roughly $14,000.

We worked with Gartner to see what other service levels might be available to continue its presence. What we learned was that the unlimited access to the electronic resource was a benefit of the Advisor/Analyst seats and therefore could not be purchased separately. After a careful analysis of the usage logs and the library's budget, we were able to increase our portion to cover half of the difference. Unfortunately, this was not enough to save the product on our campus.

The electronic resources were wonderful for our academic units and we have been quite dismayed to have to release them. In a time where most libraries are clamoring for vendors to package more of their services to keep from the constant stream of "add-ons", we hope that in the future Gartner will find a method to provide this access separate from the overhead of the rest of their services.