Data-Driven Collection Development: The Approval Plan in Today’s Academic Library

Workflow | Ashley Fast| June 03, 2019

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Approval plans support print and e-book acquisitions, as well as provide notifications of newly published books, DDA pools and more.

A recent Choice/ACRL webinar defined approval plans and explored the role of approval plans in the academic market, and how they benefit the library. Christine Fischer, Head of Technical Services for the University Libraries at UNC Greensboro, and Simona G. Tabacaru, Collection Development Librarian for Texas A&M University Libraries, made up the webinar panel while GOBI® Library Solutions from EBSCO Director of Collection Development and Workflow Solutions, Central United States, Ashley Fast moderated.

The webinar featured an overview of each panelist’s library, followed by a Q&A session in which both librarians provided insight into how approval plans help create a simplified workflow for implementing and updating their library collections.

The librarians discussed the benefits that their approval plans have provided to their libraries, including the fact that, “we can better monitor and control duplication between print and electronic formats and we can easily assess our monographic purchases through different acquisition methods like approval plans, firm orders and DDA e-book purchases,” noted by Tabacaru.

Fischer added that having an approval plan, “benefits faculty because they can rely on the plan to supply the books or to supply notifications, so they can make recommendations to ensure that the library acquires the needed resources.”

We received many thought-provoking questions from the audience during the webinar including the questions below:

We are a community college, with no subject liaisons. Could we set up an Approval Plan just for e-books? How would that work?

Yes, a library can set up an eOnly profile. An eOnly profile is an approval profile that would send e-book slips or e-book auto-shipments based on the same flexible, reliable approval plan methodology we use for print based or ePreferred profiles. The big difference is no print content would be supplied as books or slips. Once the librarians work with their Collection Development Manager to set up the profile, they would construct a weekly electronic notification to deliver the e-book notification slips to their inbox every week. This would allow the library to review the notification slips and make any firm order actions on those as they fit the collection scope. Setting up a profile, even if it’s a core plan or small targeted plan, to drive newly published content saves time going out to multiple sources to locate newly published content.

Do library selectors review auto-shipment books sent on approval before accepting?

The library can decide to review approval shipments (print and/or e-books) before accepting them. We are seeing a trend that outsourcing cataloging and book processing have turned many approval plans into shelf-ready, non-returnable shipments. That said, if a profile has shelf-ready services, those are non-returnable as they have already been processed. But for non-processed print and for e-books, a library can review those book shipments and return any they deem out of scope. For print, the library would just ship back the titles that didn’t fit their collection and work with their Collection Development Manager to adjust the plan to prevent that type of content from coming on approval and for e-books they would be able to virtually reject those from invoicing during a window of time.

When using a combination of firm order, approval plans, and DDA for acquisitions, what measures or procedures can libraries use to avoid duplication/duplicate purchases?

The great part about streamlining the acquisitions of these various models through GOBI is that the deduplication happens for the library automatically. One of the greatest benefits of using GOBI to acquire content across the many complex models in today’s acquisitions environment is the assurance that duplication takes places across these models. So, for example, if a library receives a title in their library’s Evidence Based Acquisitions (EBA) pool, GOBI shows visibility into that in GOBI and a selector can see that it's part of the library’s EBA program. Therefore, the librarian can make a choice to purchase a duplicate print copy, or they can leave it in that model until end of term and make an acquisitions decision on it at that point. Librarians don’t have to worry about that title coming in on approval, or acquisitions not catching it as a duplicate if it accidentally gets selected in another format.

What is the delay between the e-book and print book version if you have e-preferred plan? In other words, if e-book comes out last, do you get print, or you wait for e-book version?

GOBI monitors this and has a mechanism to alert a library to an e-book if it isn’t available until after the print. In today’s environment, almost 60 percent of the print titles we profile have a simultaneously published e-book format. However, if there is a slight delay on that e-book, say it doesn’t come out until six weeks after the print, an ePreferred approval profile can hold that print version and send the e-book in lieu of the print version. GOBI defines simultaneous as an eight-week window. Therefore, we can ensure that the library receives a book shipment or electronic notification slip for a title up to eight weeks after the print is published. By building in that period where GOBI holds back the print version before the e-book counterpart is available, we help provide libraries that want to acquire the e-book version, maximum exposure to that format. If the e-book does not become available within that window, then the library can make a purchase decision on the print version.

Listen to the webinar recording to learn more about approval plans and how they benefit academic libraries.

Visit Webinar Recording

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Ashley Fast
Director of Collection Development

Ashley Fast, Director of Collection Development and Workflow Solutions, Central United States for GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO.

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