Second Annual VALE Users’ Conference — January 4, 2001

The second annual VALE Users’ Conference took place on January 4, 2001 at Alexander Library, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. More than 120 librarians representing over 40 institutions of higher education around the state attended the daylong event. The keynote speaker, Tom Sanville, Executive Director of OhioLINK, enthusiastically addressed the group on the importance and power of consortial access to information. A question and answer period followed his talk on:

Breakout sessions were conducted. Please explore these summaries.

  • Training feedback
    • User Manuals, Tips, and Guidesheets

      Presented by Barbara Simpson Darden and Committee

      Attendees recommended that the Training Committee work on a number of projects to aid librarians and users:

      • Prepare cheat sheets for placement next to computers.
      • Encourage librarians who have prepared their own guides and manuals to share these resources with all VALE members.
      • Use database links to vendors for information.
      • Create a “best practices” VALE site.
      • Consider the various skills levels of users when creating materials.
      • Consider the needs of distance learners when creating materials.
      • Put all of the online tutorials in one easy to locate place. The listserv was suggested as a convenient place.
      • Distribute a list of those who have been trained in using the VALE databases so that members can contact them for assistance.

      Robert Lackie, from Rider University, explained the VALE CORRADO listserv and showed attendees how to join and access archives. Some questions asked were:

        • Is the content of the listserv indexed?

      No. However, one person suggested that it may be helpful to receive listserv messages as a digest. Messages will post daily in one long message with a table of contents.

        • How do I see all of the VALE databases available?

      Click on About VALE on the VALE homepage.

      Each session ended with a database demonstration and a Q & A session on how to access help pages and locate specific information.

      Prepared by: Pamela Price
      Director of Library Services
      Mercer County Community College
      1200 Old Trenton Road
      Trenton, NJ 08690
      Telephone: (609) 586-4800 x3554

    • Resource Sharing System/Interlibrary Loan

      Presented by Scherelene Schatz
      Program Manager, Statewide Interlibrary Loan System
      New Jersey State Library

      Following is a summary of the presentation and demonstration on the RSS/ILL System:

      • A brief history of the statewide interlibrary loan project was given;
      • There was a live demonstration of the statewide interlibrary loan system using the new version 3.1 of EpixTech’s RSS (Resource Sharing System) software;
      • A worksheet was distributed and the requirements for connection to the RSS system were explained.

      Ms. Schatz noted that to date there are 250 libraries in New Jersey with RSS installed (including academic libraries, school libraries, and public libraries). Dynix, Horizon, CARL, Sirsi and Endeavor catalog systems are currently connected, and RSS is able to pull circulation information for holdings data on requested items from these systems. EpixTech is currently working with DRA to connect to holdings information through RSS. Ms. Schatz invited academic libraries to participate in the statewide project. New implementations of RSS can begin as early as February 2001.

      The RSS connects library catalogs through the Z39.50 version 3 standard interface. Ms. Schatz showed the Web-based patron request interface as well as the Windows-based interface for Borrowing and Lending operations for RSS. Services offered are a statewide ILL system at no charge to the participating libraries in NJ state. Future versions of the RSS will allow exporting requests from RSS to OCLC using ISO 10160/10161 standards.

      New Jersey state has the largest implementation of EpixTech’s RSS. Ms. Schatz encouraged academic librarians to attend the EpixTech Users Group session at ALA Midwinter, on Sunday, January 14th at the Grand Hyatt from 1PM-3PM.

      For more information on the statewide interlibrary loan system, go to the New Jersey ILL- Resource Sharing in the State of New Jersey Web page at:

      Prepared by: Mary Mallery, Ph.D.
      Assistant Director, Roscoe L. West Library
      The College of New Jersey
      Ewing, NJ 08628-0718
      Telephone: (609) 771-3414

  • Fairer, cheaper, and more flexible database pricing formulas
    • Fairer, Cheaper, and More Flexible Database Pricing Formulas

      Presented by Richard Sweeney
      University Librarian, NJIT

      Following is the summary of a proposed new approach to pricing.

      Inadequacy of Vendor Pricing Models from the Perspective of Consortia Goals

      • The members of VALE include a wide variety of institutional types, sizes, user populations, and database usage patterns. In negotiating with database vendors for consortial pricing rates, VALE attempts to obtain the lowest prices possible and to allocate the costs among participating libraries according to some reasonable measure (typically FTE). Initial cost allocation on this basis may be closely aligned with a vendor’s pricing formula (e.g., when the vendor price is offered as a given rate per FTE), but each institution’s final cost measure may be informed by actual usage rates during the subscription period and represented as cost-per-use. VALE includes these measures in its own records.
      • While vendors use a variety of pricing models – including rate-per-FTE, institutional size, institutional type, cost of print serial subscriptions (for e-journal vendors), etc. – none of these appear to have any connection to actual usage patterns. Yet usage is critical to each VALE member’s final cost assessment of a database, especially when subscription renewals are being considered. We already have reason to believe database usage can and will increase as more databases are provided to users, and we want to attract more VALE institutions to participate in database contracts so as maximize both our bargaining power and our collective cost efficiencies. To do this, actual usage should be a more significant factor in our approach to pricing and cost allocation among institutions.

      What the Data Shows

      • VALE’s analysis of recent database contracts indicates that cost-per-use rates (derived from FTE figures, allocated costs, and usage rates measured per database) tend to cluster around the statistical mean for most institutions. In some cases, however, a few libraries reporting relatively low usage rates ended up with very high costs (e.g., in excess of 100 times the average cost-per-use for all participating institutions). These aberrations, which follow from actual usage, cannot be corrected on the basis of pricing and cost formulas that exclude usage. The aberrations are also difficult to forecast on the basis of institutional characteristics like size, type, academic program concentrations, and FTE. In several cases smaller institutions have exhibited very high usage patterns with cost-per-use measures below the statistical mean

      Possible Benefits of Incorporating Usage Into Cost Allocation Within The Consortium As stated, VALE members could reasonably expect that:

      • Database usage will increase, both in general and in ways that may be difficult to predict, as we provide more electronic resources to users; we therefore have a major interest in promoting more high-quality databases throughout VALE and increased participation among members;
      • Increases in database usage, combined with the best prices we can obtain from vendors (“best” being largely a function of the size and financial clout of the consortium vis-a-vis vendors), will benefit VALE members and should lead to substantial cost-per-use savings;
      • Increased institutional participation will be very attractive to vendors because it promises greater revenues, especially from institutions that would not otherwise be able to purchase database “x”.

      To move forward, however, it is in our interest to address the problem of cost aberrations that exist in current contracts. Under present conditions, participating institutions that experience such high-cost figures in their accounts may view their cost allocations as unfair and be inclined to withdraw from various databases. This may occur even if VALE is in a position to provide some relief through subsequent credit adjustments. The cumulative tendency of this pattern will be to weaken the consortium, deny withdrawing institutions and their users ready access to major databases, and encourage the vendors to maintain a rigid pricing posture.

      To bring usage into our pricing model, VALE should carefully examine the available usage statistics and on the basis of this data derive a maximum cost-per-use figure to control for cost aberrations among participants. Estimates of this figure can be calculated based on various levels of participation (from some reasonable minimum to the optimum level of full participation) and the resulting cost tables used to:

      • Attract greater participation among VALE libraries (with the added benefit of having a fair cost ceiling established in advance);
      • Inform negotiations with vendors (with the goal of reaching an optimum price based on full participation).

      Both VALE and the vendors have an interest in increasing institutional participation in each database, and the incorporation of usage into our approach to cost allocation and negotiating strategy holds great promise for meeting that goal, delivering more information to users across the board, and offering solid evidence to the state that its vigorous support of VALE can lead to major benefits and major savings.

      Some discussion points raised:

      • One participant pointed out that our current usage data may not now provide an adequate basis for implementing a flexible pricing model of the type described above (short-term data may include aberrant fluctuations). Others agreed that long-term usage data should be studied, although no specific period was suggested.
      • Some participants from larger institutions wondered whether the present high-cost figures were showing up more often among the largest participants; the presenter replied that the evidence suggested the largest institutions were usually closest to the average in cost-per-use.

      Prepared by: Richard Kearney
      Reference Librarian/Electronic Resources
      Sarah Byrd Askew Library,
      William Paterson University 300 Pompton Road
      Wayne, New Jersey 07470
      Tel.: 973-720-2165

  • PsychINFO interface update
    • PsycINFO and SiteSearch Interface Update

      Presented by Dave Hoover
      System Administrator
      Rutgers University

      Dave Hoover presented the new changes to PsycINFO and the new interface for SiteSearch and demonstrated some possible directions for future development of the interface.

      The new interface should be up during the week of January 22nd. There was a delay in updating the PsycINFO database as APA, who provided the records, were doing a global reload and not distributing updates. The database should be current shortly and will go to weekly updates.

      The most noticeable feature of the new interface is that it does not use frames and navigation is much improved. Check boxes replace the “save” button and saved searches are available via a “n searches currently saved” link on the left or from a button on the top right.

      It was noted that one change not made was that tags on the drop-down menus on the Advanced Search screen do not match the tags on the records. The Interface Committee will look into this and try to adopt a standard terminology between the two.

      PsycINFO now has a thesaurus, referred to the “Term Finder” in PsycINFO itself. Dave has made the thesaurus available separately, but users should be aware that the standalone version will only search the thesaurus. The “Term Finder” in PsycINFO itself lets users search for the proper term, then allows searches on that term as either a keyword or as a descriptor. The “Term Finder” button also appears in the stand-alone thesaurus but this may be removed if users feel it is redundant or confusing. There are 7,700 terms in the Thesaurus.

      Handouts included:

      1. New Interface
        • Addition of messages regarding failed login attempts and use of proxies.
        • Addition of NJ Links button pointing to locally developed databases about New Jersey
      2. Local Database enhancements
        • Stopwords stripped from searches
        • Better error handling of corrupt records -only the bad record will not display, not the whole set
        • Date range searching
        • With and Near will work as expected.
        • Non frames based interface
        • Ability to Save and Unsave a set of records at one time.
        • Context sensitive “Search” and “Browse” buttons instead of just “Go”
      3. PsycINFO changes
        • Addition of Thesaurus. Reachable from the TermFinder choice off the main PsycINFO search page. A user is presented a screen where they can enter up to 3 concepts (or search terms) that will be combined together with “or” and will be keyword searched against the PsycINFO thesaurus. A list of terms with checkboxes will be presented in response to the search allowing the user to still search the word by “keyword”, to search the proper “descriptor” term found in the Thesaurus, or to choose to expand the term found in the Thesaurus to find Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, Related Terms and the Scope Note. The terms on the “expand” screen will be presearched and the number of records associated with each will be displayed. The Full record displays will also have a “tree” icon next to each of the Descriptor terms that will allow the user to move directly from the record into the Thesaurus entry for that term.
        • Addition of a standalone PsycINFO Thesaurus. Allows for full keyword and phrase searching of all the Thesaurus Fields (Main Terms, Use Terms, Used For Terms, Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, Related Terms, Scope Notes). The User can also use the Browse search capability against all of these indexes. Note this is not directly integrated to search against PsycINFO and terms found here will have to be cut and pasted into PsycINFO search screens.
      4. Test system -PsycINFO -jounal nursing, community health nursing (link to catchword)
        • TRM 150 Main Term(postable)
        • MAP 151 Main Term(non postable)
        • USE 450 Use Term
        • FOR 451 Used For Term.
        • BRD 550 Broader Terms
        • NAR 1350 Narrower Terms
        • REL 1450 Related Terms
        • SCN 680 Scope Note
      5. Some current/future developments
          • Addition of library catalogs searchable by Z39.50. Currently working with NJIT (DRA), Rutgers (Sirsi), St Peter’s (Dynix).
          • Adding holdings displays for the above catalogs where possible -dependent upon capabilities of the local Catalog system.
          • Searching the current PsycINFO citation’s ISSN against a local library catalog to find out holdings information.

        Merged Database results. Cross Database Searches

        • Cambridge illustrated medicine

      Prepared by: Fred Nesta, Director
      Saint Peter’s College Libraries
      2641 Kennedy Blvd.
      Jersey City, NJ 07306
      (201) 915-9387

Marianne Gaunt summarized VALE’s achievements   during the past year.

The day’s events culminated with award presentations and reception to honor members for their time and contributions to VALE. The following were honored with citations: Brother Paul Chervenie, Anne Ciliberti, Ed Corrado, Barbara Simpson Darden, Joan Getaz, Dave Hoover, Jack Livingstone, Fred Nesta, Pam Price, Joe Ptaszynski, Paul Rigby, Richard Sweeney, Pat Tumulty, Sharon Yang, and Nick Yovnello.