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WVUL eResource Collections Evaluation Toolkit

Internal Library

Developing a rich method of internal communication around collection changes will help to develop a consistent and deep conversation with the campus.  If all librarians are aware of the internal data, conversations, and decisions, each librarian is then able to present a consistent message as they talk to their various constituents and different colleges will not be receiving conflicting information.  Some methods for enriching internal communication include:

  1. Keep an archive of all formal presentations for others in your library to use and reuse. The Dean/Director should share presentations he/she has given so the liaisons know what message has been given to whom. (No need to reinvent, and keeps the message clear.) Liaison librarians share presentations they may do for their colleges/departments.  Making clear who the presentation was for, by, and when is helpful information.
  2. Create a space on the staff intranet to share anecdotal stories of challenges and successes in conversations with faculty around the changes in the collections.  This becomes qualitative data for determining the successes and failures in your decisions.  This provides data for further conversation with faculty.  Sometimes anecdotes will provide conflicting information.  It is helpful for the library to sort through this for solutions, but also valuable to share with faculty so they understand the various needs we are seeking to meet.
  3. Create a space on the staff intranet to share the decisions for cuts that individual librarians are making so others have the opportunity to chime in if a particular cut has implications for the units they represent.  Sometimes an easy decision for one department presents a big challenge for another.  Additionally, sometimes the subject designation of a resource may need revision to meet reflect local realities.

Campus

The message, the medium, and the audience are essential pieces of an effective communication plan. Using data from the library’s internal communication will help organize the pieces of external communication as outlined below.

Message

First and foremost, determine the message(s) that are to be presented to each constituent. Examples may include one, some or all of the following:

  1. Journal packages are an unsustainable model. Include data on inflation rates and impact on the overall materials budget.
  2. Need for savings. In our case this was important and helpful to include as the entire campus was experiencing budget cuts.
  3. The portion of the library budget that is consumed by library materials. This is important on campus where most of the colleges’ budgets are largely devoted to personnel.  This reality may not be obvious to them.
  4. Discussion of the challenging scholarly communication model, especially in the sciences, where faculty provide most of the labor for the publisher and libraries are charged to buy it all back.
  5. Opening of a dialog on short and long term solutions to maintaining a robust collection, on the challenge of collecting everything, and on the role of “owned” vs “facilitated” collections.

Audience

Who needs to hear the messages?

  1. Librarians/library staff - where is your library staff in terms of understanding the challenges of scholarly communication and its impact on the library budget? What do they need to know about new demands/challenges? What do they need to know about new ways of working/thinking? All front line staff will likely be in a position at some point to defend/articulate changes the library is making.
  2. Campus- provost, deans, faculty - where is your campus in understanding the impact of bundled packages on the library budget? Do they understand the shifts in scholarly communication and the role of open access? Do they understand why you are considering unbundling/cutting?

Medium

Communication will need to take a variety of forms, will need to be ongoing, frequent, and will need to appeal to different audiences.  Here are options for communication:

  1. In person communication:
    1. High level campus staff (provost, deans, chairs) - should be done by library administration.
    2. Faculty at large - should be done by liaisons. Provide liaisons with talking points to use when interacting with faculty.
    3. Library staff - Library administration may need to take time to provide library staff with the big picture of changes due to budget constraints/scholarly communication models.
  2. Online – Libguide, web page, etc. Helpful for providing the larger context of the message, a place to refer the campus for more information.  
    1. Include examples of this as an international, not merely local issue.
    2. Provide an FAQ.
  3. Regular communications via direct e-mail, campus newsletters, blog
    1. Short & to the point
    2. Reiterate goals
  4. Talking points for library staff
    1. For front line staff
    2. For liaison librarians
  5. Develop an ongoing education program
    1. Start with short term goals - what is the first message to convey quickly and broadly?
    2. Institute a long-term education program on the issues surrounding scholarly communication, for example:
      1. Program to assist faculty with selecting publication outlets
      2. Role of open access journals
      3. Maintaining copyright and negotiating authors’ rights.
      4. Discussions of promotion and tenure processes in disciplines that exacerbate and continue the troublesome model.
  6. Provide a suite of options for obtaining articles & “how to” instructions for obtaining articles