The Palladian Alliance is a project of the Associated Colleges of the South funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This consortium of 13 liberal arts colleges-not just libraries-has a full-time staff and organizational structure. The Palladian Alliance came about as result of discussions among the library directors who were concerned about the problem described in this paper. As the project emerged, it combined the goals of several entities, which are shown in Table 14.1 along with the specific objectives of the project.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a grant of $1.2 million in December 1995 to the ACS. During the first half of 1996, the librarians upgraded hardware, selected a vendor to provide a core collection of electronic full-text titles, and conducted appropriate training sessions. Public and Ariel workstations were installed in libraries by July 1996 and necessary improvements were made to the campus networks to provide access for using World Wide Web technology. Training workshops were developed under contract with Amigos and SOLINET on technical aspects and were conducted in May 1996. During that same time, an analysis was conducted to isolate an appropriate full-text vendor.
After comparison of the merged print subscription list of all institutions with three products-IAC's InfoTrac, EBSCO's EBSCOHOST, and UMI's Periodical Abstracts and ABI/Inform-the project team selected UMI with access through OCLC. A contract with OCLC was signed in June for July 1, 1996, start-up of FirstSearch for the nine core databases: WorldCat, FastDoc, ERIC, Medline, GPO Catalog, ArticleFirst, PapersFirst, ContentsFirst, and ProceedingsFirst; and for UMI's two core indexes, Periodical Abstracts and ABI/Inform, along with their associated full-text databases. This arrangement for the UMI products provides a general core collection with indexing for 2,600 titles, of which approximately 1,000 are full-text titles.
The UMI via OCLC FirstSearch subscription was chosen because it offered several advantages including the potential for a reliable, proprietary backup to the Internet, additional valuable databases at little cost, and easy means to add other databases. The UMI databases offered the best combination of cost and match with existing holdings. UMI also offered the future potential of full-image as well as ASCII text. After the first academic year, the project switched to access via ProQuest Direct in order to provide full image when available.
Students have had access to the core electronic titles since the fall semester in 1996. As experience builds, it is apparent that the libraries do have some opportunity to cancel print subscriptions with financial advantages. The potential costs, savings, and added value are revealed in Tables 14.2 through 14.4. Specific financial impact on the institutions during the first year is shown in Tables 14.5 and 14.6. It should be noted that the financial impact is based on preliminary data that has been extremely difficult to gather. Publisher and vendor invoices vary considerably
between schools on both descriptive information and prices. Therefore, these results will be updated continually throughout the project.
At the outset, the project benefits the libraries in a significant way because of the power of consortial purchasing. Only a few of the larger libraries might be able to afford to purchase access to both full-text databases were they constrained to individual purchases. Added together, individual subscriptions to ABI/Inform and Periodical Abstracts accompanied with the full text would collectively cost the 13 libraries $413,590 for 1997/98. By arranging consortial purchase, the total cost to the ACS is $129,645 for this second year. Because the libraries can then afford their share of the collective purchase, the vendor benefits from added sales otherwise not available and the libraries add numerous articles to the resources provided their students. More detailed accounting of the benefits are determined in the accompanying tables.
These tables are based on actual financial information for the consortium. Table 14.2 summarizes the project costs. These calculations will be corrected to reflect revised enrollment figures immediately prior to renewal for the third year. The project was designed to use grant funds exclusively the first year, then gradually shift to full support on the library accounts by the fourth year.
As the project started, the ACS libraries collectively subscribed through EBSCO, FAXON, and Readmore to approximately 14,600 subscriptions as shown in Table 14.3. Of these subscriptions, 6,117 are unique titles; the rest are duplicates of these unique titles. Were the ACS libraries collectively merged into one collection, it would therefore be possible to cancel more than 8,000 duplications and save over $1,000,000. Since this merger was not possible, the libraries contracted for electronic access to nearly 1,000 full-text titles from UMI. Over 600 of these UMI titles match the print subscriptions collectively held by the libraries. As Table 14.3 indicates, canceling all but one subscription to the print counterparts of the UMI titles could save the libraries about $137,000 for calendar year 1996. Canceling all the print counterparts to the electronic versions would save nearly $185,000, which is about equal to the licensing costs for the first year per Table 14.2.
For calendar year 1996, the libraries canceled very few titles. In part, this came about because of reluctance to depend upon an untested product. There was no existing evidence that UMI (or any other aggregator) could maintain a consistent list of offerings. To date, cancellations for 1997 have also been fewer than expected at the outset. Furthermore, the project has begun to show that products such as ProQuest Direct come closer to offering a large pool of journal articles than they do to offering full electronic counterparts to print subscriptions. However, these products do provide significant benefits to the libraries.
The project adds considerable value to the institutional resources. The schools had not previously subscribed to many of the titles available through UMI. As an
illustration, Table 14.4 lists the number of print subscriptions carried by each institution and indicates how many of those are available in the UMI databases electronically. The fourth column reveals the potential savings available to each school were the print counterparts of all these electronic journals to be canceled. The column labeled Added E-Titles shows the number of new journals made available to each institution through the grant. The final column indicates the total titles now available at each institution as a result of the consortial arrangement. Comparison of the final column with the first reveals that the electronic project nearly doubles the journal resources available to students.
Table 14.5 details the preliminary financial impact on the ACS institutions for the first and second calendar year of the project. While the opening premise of
the project suggests that canceling print subscriptions would pay for consortial access to UMI's aggregated collections, actual practice shows otherwise. The data is still being collected in the form of invoices, but preliminary summaries of cancellations show meager savings. Total savings across the 13 campuses is little more than $50,000 per year. This savings is not enough to pay for the first two years of the project, which is over $350,000. However, the added value to the combined collections exceeds $2,000,000 per year as measured by the cost of print counter-parts to the UMI titles. Furthermore, additional action by some institutions, as shown in Table 14.6, reveals better outcomes.
Comparing the savings shown in Table 14.6 with the subsidized cost reveals that in the cases of Trinity and Millsaps, even without Mellon support, the consortial provision of the OCLC/UMI databases could be paid for by canceling indexes along with a few print subscriptions. In Trinity's case, two indexes previously purchased as CD-ROMs or direct links to another on-line source were canceled for savings of over $5,000 in the first year. Trinity canceled a CD-ROM subscription to a site license of ABI/Inform, which saved expenditures totaling over $6,000 per year, and an on-line general purpose index that previously cost over $12,000. The Trinity share to the Palladian Alliance project would have been just over $13,000 per year for the first three years. Similarly, Millsaps canceled one index and 74 periodical titles that overlapped the UMI content for net first-year savings of nearly $9,000. On this basis, the project more than pays for itself.
Added interesting outcomes of the project at this point include a couple of new
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pieces of important information. First, canceling individual subscriptions to indexes provides a viable means for consortial pricing to relieve campus budgets, at least in the short run. Were it necessary for Trinity to pay its full share of the cost, canceling indexes alone provided sufficient savings to pay for the project. Just considering trade-offs with indexes alone, Trinity's net savings over the project life span total nearly $18,000.
Second, on the down side, canceling journals and replacing them with an aggregator's collection of electronic subscriptions may not be very reliable. It is apparent that the aggregators suffer from the vagaries of publishers. In just the first few months of the project, UMI dropped and added a number of titles in both full-text databases. This readjustment means that instead of full runs of each title, the databases often contain only partial runs. Furthermore, in some cases the publisher provides only significant articles, not the full journal. Therefore, the substitution of UMI provides the libraries with essentially a collection of articles, not a collection of electronic subscription substitutes. This result diminishes reliability and discourages libraries from being able to secure really significant cost savings.
It should be noted however, that several of the libraries independently subscribed to the electronic access to Johns Hopkins Project MUSE. In contrast to an aggregated collection, this project provides full-image access to every page of the print counterparts and guarantees access indefinitely to any year of the subscription once it's paid for. This guarantee means that reliability of the product is substantially improved, and it provides reasonable incentives to the libraries to substitute access for
collecting. While it may be acceptable to substitute access to a large file of general purpose articles for undergraduate students, Project MUSE promises better results than the initial project for scholarly journal collections. The final report of this project will include information on the impact of the Project MUSE approach as well as on the original concept.
Third, the impact of on-line full-text content may or may not have an impact on interlibrary loan activity. Table 14.7 summarizes the searching and article delivery statistics for the first six months of the project compared to the total interlibrary borrowing as well as nonreturn photocopies ordered through the campus interlibrary loan offices. The change in interlibrary loan statistics for the first six months of the project compared to the previous year show that in some cases interlibrary borrowing increased and in other cases it decreased. Several variables besides the availability of full-text seem to affect use of interlibrary loan services. For instance, some of the institutions had full-text databases available before the project started. Some made more successful efforts to promote the project services than others. It seems likely that improved access to citations from on-line indexes made users more aware of items that could be borrowed. That effect probably offset an expected decrease in interlibrary loans that the availability of full text makes predictable. Regardless, statistics on this issue yield inconclusive results early in the project.
Fourth, it is curious that secondary journals in many fields are published by commercial firms rather than by professional organizations and that their publications are sold at higher prices. Libraries typically pay more for Haworth publications than they do for ALA publications. Haworth sells largely to libraries responding not to demand for content but for publication outlets. Libraries are willing to pay for the Haworth publications. This fact helps explain why secondary titles cost more than primary ones. Demand may be more for exposure of the contributor than it is for reading of content by subscribers. The econometric analysis included in the project may confirm this unintended hypothesis.