July 20, 2007

Journal review

It's nearing our fiscal year end. Add to this the fact that several publishers have drastically increased subscription prices and, you guessed it, we're reviewing journal subscriptions. About the lists: one list is for a move to print only; one list is standing orders for titles that are not available electronically, so we are reviewing to see if we should keep the subscription.

Naturally, usage and cost come into play for both. For those available full-text, the consideration is merely is the usage there. At MPOW, we're definitely moving toward electronic, so print only isn't really an option, even if it is less expensive. In most cases yes, the usage is there. In a couple of cases, no it isn't. For those titles with low usage, I considered where else it was held and given the current usage, is ILL an option. Well, one title had four uses. In addition, I looked at the title's value to the field. So, even though a journal may have low usage, it might not get marked for cancellation if it is considered a top journal in the field.

The second set of journal reviews is the one that was more interesting. Up until now, I'd never really considered stats for journal titles from an indexing and abstracting database, just overall database usage. However, when reviewing journal usage for print subscriptions, it helps to know if it's being used. My OPAC shows "historical browses" for titles, but there is some debate as to how accurate it is. So, I pulled usage stats by title. I was surprised by the results. Titles that seemed obscure in name and had very few browses in the OPAC had heavy usage in the database. Since the stats were returning abstract requests, it doesn't tell if the user actually went to the print journal, but it does tell me that the title is appearing in searches run in these databases. And, most were fairly high, even the "obscure" title.

I've also got one or two titles that don't appear to be indexed in any database we subscribe to, but that have fairly high browses in the OPAC. I'd prefer that my print titles be indexed somewhere, but the OPAC stats tell me that there are people looking for this title. I'm not ready to stop the subscription, but I can't really say I should look at purchasing a database for one title.

Overall, the exercise has been a good one. I think a couple of titles can be cancelled and I have a better feel for the usage on other titles.