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Collection Analysis

Why do we care about journal supply?

We find it is most meaningful to analyze journal supply in terms of the type of access and the subject coverage available. Our approach to journal supply analysis is based on the foundational work of Evan Rusch.

Journals are published over time, of course, so we analyze electronic journal access in terms of the currency of coverage. If we provide journal access, but not necessarily to current issues, then we call this "Any Access." When we provide access to current issues, we call this "Current Access." Current Access might be provided via journal subscriptions (either individual or in a package) or by aggregators. We have much more control over our subscriptions than we have over aggregator access, so we additionally distinguish "Current Subscriptions" from Current Access. The library does not subscribe to many print journals any longer. However, we do also count current print subscriptions as "Current Subscriptions" in the CPBI. We do not analyze print access for all reports, but it can be very useful to distinguish electronic and print access. The library has several times reduced the print collection based on overlap with the electronic collection, depending on additional nuances described below.

Journal supply is a very important concept and there are many nuances to journal supply. Scholarly and trade journals, whether subscription or open access, provide the primary means of scholarly communication in many, or probably most, fields. Journals are used by far the most of all library resources, although this doesn't mean the library should only supply journals. The needs of different fields vary enormously. History needs Primary Sources. Engineering needs Standards. Nursing needs point-of-care Reference Resources. Many fields need appropriate Data. The Humanities tend to rely more on Scholarly Monographs. The list could go on.

Journal supply is meaningless without also understanding there will be variations in need across different types of courses. Students in introductory courses pursuing typical assignments to find three "credible sources" or five (or whatever) don't typically need a very deep journal collection. However, students in higher level, more research-heavy courses will need more depth and specialization. Students in science, technology, and medical fields typically use only the most recent research, while students in the social sciences, humanities, education, and business fields might use research published over a longer time period. One research question we'd like to investigate more deeply at some point is this: "What is sufficient journal supply for a comprehensive university? What would be optimal supply? ... as opposed to the needs of a research university, a liberal arts college, or a community college."

It is also important to understand the sources of journal supply. Aside from distinguishing subscription access from aggregator (NonSub) access, it can be valuable to understand the extent of open access and how much access is being provided by the Electronic Library of Minnesota (ELM) at no cost to Mankato. It's also useful to know how much content the library actually "owns." Some content is "perpetual," or it can be called either "Post Cancellation Access" (PCA) or "Post Termination Access." Understanding these long term holdings is useful when we make decisions to adjust the collection.

We have developed methods to analyze our journal holdings across all of these concerns, which one can see in the CPBI and Collection Review. We do not directly map supply variables to student metrics, such as program enrollments or certifications, because the mapping is too messy to be very useful (or, at least, it was messy in our first experiment), but by providing subject and LCCN filter capabilities, we empower stakeholders to perform such analyses themselves, as thinking agents capable of reading both the student data and the collection data.

Electronic Resources and Print Inventory

We extract inventory information from Alma using Alma Analytics. All library management systems provide some means of extracting this information. In the past, we've used the Aleph, Serials Solutions, and Voyager products to extract similar information. Because our analysis of Alma Electronic Inventory in terms of type of access and subject seems unique across libraries, we'll provide more information here, in the future, about how we provide that information. 

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