Sciences Advisory Group – Notes from January 2011 meeting

The Sciences Advisory Group met on January 20, 2011.

Present: Roger Sandwick, Terry Simpkins, Bryan Carson, Mike Roy, Jason Arndt, Pete Ryan, Daniel Scharstein, Jeremy Ward, Shel Sax, Rick Bunt, Hans Raum, Steve Bertolino, Carrie Macfarlane

The topics of this meeting were:

  1. Information literacy update (research and tech skills development and assessment) [Mike Roy]
  2. Course management systems (Segue replacement) update [Shel Sax]
  3. Pay-per-view journal articles from Wiley [Terry Simpkins]
  4. Armstrong Library: Use of space [Carrie]
  5. Developing future agendas: Would all members be willing to poll their departments in advance of our meetings? [Carrie]
  6. LIS Priorities list: FYI [Carrie]
  7. Updates and discussion [everyone]


1.  Information literacy update (research and tech skills development and assessment) [Mike Roy]

  • Talked about the expansion of information literacy from being bibliographic centric to expand to include technological fluency as well – group within LIS has been working on a comprehensive list of skills, this group has been consulting with FLAC (Faculty LIS Advisory Committee)
  • LIS info literacy initiative needs to be integrated into the curriculum, needs to be a partnership with faculty to integrate into the curriculum
  • Other thing we’re looking at is timing, when during the undergraduate career does a student need to develop these literacies – logical places include the FYS and the major (so another question is what skills does a student need in order to be successful within her/his field
  • NEASC explicitly asks what we do about information literacy and prove that you have both a systematic approach and an assessment rubric/vehicle (how do you actually know that students have attained proficiency)
  • By spring, hope to have some details about approach, pilot projects and this will all need to go to the curriculum committee to investigate its impact on curriculum
  • Jeremy notes that many departments already do this type of literacy development, part of what we want to do is to document this and then identify gaps which will likely be assessment related – the group doing this work is looking at how to develop meaningful measures with which to proceed
  • Terry noted that external groups have already developed some tools that speak to these things
  • If literacies can be related to department learning goals, then to the extent students are successful in their discipline, get a two for one
  • Jeremy asked about the possibility of a “PE” type credit where you have to learn these literacies independent of their course of study – Mike said that the concern is that the literacy would take place in a curricular vacuum which has been shown to be inferior , e.g. statistics taught in a vacuum
  • Roger, starting to develop learning goals for his department and was wondering if literacy could be the one they focus on first

2.  Course management systems (Segue replacement) update [Shel Sax]

  • Shel talked about the current pilot project, Sakai, Moodle and Blackboard, noting that since Blackboard is by far the most expensive and proprietary solution, it is an unlikely choice.
  • We currently have 25 or so faculty participating in the pilot, 3 with Blackboard, and the rest evenly split between Sakai and Moodle.
  • Hope to have decision in place by the end of March
  • Plan on surveying students and faculty in the pilot, sessions for faculty feedback, etc.

3.  Pay-per-view journal articles from Wiley [Terry Simpkins]

  • Publisher Wiley Blackwell, journal publisher, they are a major publisher of scientific journals which are among the most expensive journals that the-library subscribes to (some as much as $10000 per year
  • Over the last 6 months, Terry has looked at the usage statistics focusing on online access for the last 3 years and has found that for a lot of the journals we subscribe to, we are paying as much as $50-150 per use, where per use is a full text download
  • Amount Midd has been spending averages 160-170K per year and he was struck by the possibility to finding a better solution: this would be a pay per view model, the library would continue to subscribe to individual high use journals, but for those journals where the cost per use is greater than cost per view, his estimate is that we could potentially save about 80K per year, cutting our costs in half
  • One of the benefits is that faculty and students would not be limited to just those titles that we subscribe, but with the pay per view tokens, could have access to any Wiley Blackwell journal that is available online – this might increase usage but unlikely to double
  • Put a deposit with the publisher to buy x number of tokens in advance, about $12.50 per use
  • From the library point of view, when we subscribe to a title, we own those titles. – when we go to pay per view, we are ‘renting’ specific journal articles
  • Faculty won’t notice a difference, the will see the article and then access it seamlessly [note: as the discussion progressed, we learned that sciences faculty would prefer to know when they are about to access a pay-per-view article, so we will have the publisher activate an intervening screen that informs the reader]
  • Daniel Scharstein – how to distribute to class?
    • Terry – can print article, save as pdf and do the same type of thing one currently does with journal articles.  Will have to inquire with publisher, but from talking to other colleges who have done this, they’ve found that they’ve been able to do the same things that they’ve done in the past.
  • Jeremy-  wonders if there is a ‘PayPal’ model that would allow him to get any article as pay-per-view regardless of publisher
    • Terry replied that every publisher has a different token system and for some the price of token is so high that this pay per view model doesn’t make sense – also when color images or a high resolution copy is required, LIS can help to pick up the extra expense
    • Wiley publications are attractive for this model because the costs are so high and the usage is so low
  • Jeremy noted that getting high resolution color journal articles is critical to his discipline and teaching and that ILL isn’t timely for weekly assignments where students are asked to find an article to discuss, this is a challenge especially during winter term
    • Carrie agreed that the current setup which asks researchers to specify in their ILL request that they need high-res color PDF doesn’t work so well for reading assignments with a short deadline.  The automated request system does work very efficiently for the majority of requests.
    • Jeremy and Carrie have been discussing this issue for a while (and in fact our discussions informed the decision to move to pay-per-view for Wiley), and other faculty have been consulted.  More discussion should follow.
  • Terry noted that there is a cap so that if there is enough use on one particular journal and if we hit 115% of what it would cost to subscribe to the journal, then we are in effect, at that point, subscribed but this would raise our subscription costs by 15%
  • Jeremy is interested in journals that Midd currently doesn’t subscribe to (and in Biology, where journals are extremely expensive), this is often the case
  • Wiley B focuses on biology, chemistry, etc. And Terry hopes that with this pay per view system, faculty would have access to journals that they previously couldn’t access so quickly otherwise.  And if this works, this model could be expanded to other publishers
  • Terry would like to get feedback from faculty on this change.  Once the new system is in place, faculty will get a message from their liaisons and we ask that they follow up on whether this has been a successful change.  Should be fewer ILL requests.
  • Faculty thought that they should be made aware every time they use a Midd token to access an article and Terry will tell Wiley to implement the scheme so that it notifies the faculty that they are spending Midd money
  • Daniel suggested that having an array of choices: e.g. Low cost version for $5; higher resolution pdf for $15 aor very high resolution, color version for $20
  • Daniel would like to see a list of what journals the CS department subscribes to – LIS does journal reviews every 5 years or so
  • Currently stats from these journals are on a publisher by publisher basis and data is dumped in from multiple sources.  Analyzing it takes some time. LIS is purchasing a product called ‘Counter’ that will enable LIS to do more and better analsysis of usage and patterns.  In addition, LIS is hiring a new collection development librarian who will be doing analyses of how LIS spends its library collections money.
  • Journals and databases take ~85% of the library budget and journals are about 50% of total expenses
  • Overview of process of subscribing to journals:  Some we get because we want a certain type of journal, but as we approach certain levels of expenditure, publishers offer ‘price breaks’ to expand access for only a little bit more, and now there is the pay per view too.

4.  Armstrong Library: Use of space [Carrie]

  • In the past 3 years, have reduced the size of print collection to create more reading and study space for students
  • Armstrong has been upgraded in terms of electrical power and data capability so that more computers can be installed
  • Group studies have large flat-panel screens so that students can do collaborative work on laptops and/or view movies.  One group study can be reserved in advance.
  • 5 carrels added to lower study area
  • In terms of use:
    • Circulation (past 5 years): use more journals and fewer books, so circulation is down
    • Visitors has gone up, more people coming in to use the library but fewer books taken out
  • Buying fewer books and using ‘profiles’ to automate some collection development
    • Jeremy: question on automated book purchases, do these come out of department funds?
    • Bryan said that they’ve done away with Dept. funds, so when a book request comes in, LIS pays for it.
    • Carrie reminded faculty that while we do purchase books based on published reviews, we also encourage faculty to request books (  to further ensure that our collection matches curricular needs.
  • If there is interest, we could ask the LIS space committee (recently formed and busy with move from Music Library) to take a look at Armstrong
  • Still have the plotter in Armstrong, restricted access, – but the rest of the room that the plotter is in is just wasted space
    • Sean O’Neil, who works at the Circ desk in Armstrong, is the person in Armstrong who is currently supporting the plotter.  Cathy Ekstrom also supports. Mack Roark at the Davis Library can provide assistance if needed too.

5.  Developing future agendas: Would all members be willing to poll their departments in advance of our meetings? [Carrie]

6.  LIS Priorities list: FYI [Carrie]

  • Now a new LIS page that describes LIS priorities so if curious about priorities, check it out

7.  Updates and discussion [everyone]

  • Pete asked about Scopus, a competitor to Web of Science.  We had a trial subscription this fall.
    • Bryan Carson (on behalf of Collection Development Advisory Committee) reports that some researchers preferred Scopus or were amenable to a change because of the cost savings.  We’ve already paid for Web of Science and we’re working on related negotiations.

Next meeting:

  • Since we met in the middle of the school year instead of the fall, we’ll poll the group in the spring to find out if another meeting is in order.

1 Response

  1. In section 3 above, on Wiley tokens, Daniel asked the following question:

    –Daniel Scharstein – how to distribute to class?
    –Terry – can print article, save as pdf and do the same type of thing one currently does with journal articles. Will have to inquire with publisher, but from talking to other colleges who have done this, they’ve found that they’ve been able to do the same things that they’ve done in the past.

    I’m following up to say that we’ve contacted the publisher and yes, articles accessed via tokens can be saved by faculty and distributed to students as long as the article is password protected from the general public. And so our usual ways of doing this: eres, posting on a course website, etc. are just fine.

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