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Positioning Librarians as Essential to the New Virtual Learning Environments. David Ball Bournemouth University. Summary. Student use of electronic resources Virtual learning environments (VLEs) Challenges for the library profession New approaches to procurement Information architecture.

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positioning librarians as essential to the new virtual learning environments

Positioning Librarians as Essential to the New Virtual Learning Environments

David Ball

Bournemouth University

Ball - IATUL 2006

  • Student use of electronic resources
  • Virtual learning environments (VLEs)
  • Challenges for the library profession
  • New approaches to procurement
  • Information architecture

Ball - IATUL 2006

student use of e resources
Student Use of E-Resources
  • Surveys show drivers as:
    • Convenience – desk top, speed, save/print
    • Young users inhabit electronic world
  • Health science library usage:
    • 28,000 full text downloads; 1800 uses of print
  • Bournemouth University:
    • Downloads: 220k (02/03), 485k (03/04), 610k (04/05)
    • 72% of nursing students access from home

Ball - IATUL 2006

virtual learning environments
Virtual Learning Environments
  • “The components in which learners and tutors participate in ‘online’ interactions of various kinds, including online learning”
    • Controlled access to curriculum
    • Tracking student activity and achievement
    • Support of on-line learning
    • Communication between the learner, the tutor and others
    • Links to other administrative systems

Ball - IATUL 2006

challenges for the profession
Challenges for the Profession
  • Studies show little integration of library resources into VLEs
  • Develop procurement practice
    • E-books
    • Non-traditional learning resources
  • Develop information architecture

Ball - IATUL 2006

e books
  • Existing heavy use of e-journals by undergraduates
  • Electronic medium the norm for students’ social and leisure pursuits
  • VLEs become primary vehicle of instruction
  • Electronic medium primary
  • Need for e-books

Ball - IATUL 2006

southern universities purchasing consortium supc
Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC)
  • Largest of the UK regional consortia
  • 47 members – small to very large
  • All areas of university purchasing
  • Contracts worth over £100m p.a. (€147m)
  • Library contracts £31m p.a. (€46m)
  • Framework agreements not central purchasing

Ball - IATUL 2006

e books identifying the need
E-Books: Identifying the Need
  • Developing market place
  • Virtual Learning Environments
  • Fluid business models
    • Mimic hard-copy business models
    • Trend towards bundling/Big Deal
  • Avoid what happened with e-journals
    • Publishers determined business models
    • Price tied to historical hard-copy spend

Ball - IATUL 2006

preparing the specification 1
Preparing the Specification 1
  • Aim to provide agreements that:
    • Were innovative and flexible
    • Exploited the electronic medium fully
    • Focused on users’ needs not libraries’
    • Encouraged the addition of library-defined content
    • Could be with general aggregators or specialists/ publishers
  • Agreements available to all UK universities

Ball - IATUL 2006

preparing the specification 2
Preparing the Specification 2
  • Two distinct requirements:
    • Requirement A – a hosted e-book service from which institutions can purchase or subscribe to individual titles
    • Requirement B – a hosted e-book service of content that is specified by the institutions

Ball - IATUL 2006

prices hard copy vs e
Prices: Hard Copy vs. E
  • One aggregator, offering outright purchase and only 1 simultaneous user, allowing for discounts and VAT:
    • E-book: 155% of list price
    • Hard copy: 85% of list price
  • E-book is 82% more expensive
  • Book budget buys 45% less e-books than hard-copy books

Ball - IATUL 2006

relative pricing requirement a
Relative Pricing (Requirement A)
  • Purchase of 1500 titles
    • Least expensive 63% of most expensive
  • Subscription over 3 years to 1500 titles
    • Least expensive 15% of most expensive
  • Least expensive allows unlimited multi-user access
  • Other models: one concurrent user (hard copy); up to ca.320 accesses to title each year

Ball - IATUL 2006

bespoke subject collections requirement b
Bespoke Subject Collections (Requirement B)
  • First subject – nursing; others to be determined
  • Core lists of 200 and 600 titles prepared by 4 universities and the Royal College of Nursing
  • Only general aggregators interested
  • Maximum of 13% available from any one
  • Aggregators have agreements with some of main publishers

Ball - IATUL 2006

e textbooks
  • Obvious advantages for libraries: no multiple copies or SLCs, staff savings
  • BUT 80% of publishers’ textbook revenue is from individuals - not available
  • One aggregator has offered e-textbooks direct to students at 50% of list price

Ball - IATUL 2006

contract award
Contract Award
  • Requirement A: Ebrary and Proquest Safari
    • Offer innovative models, value for money, flexibility and academic content of interest to members
    • Exploit electronic medium in terms of granularity and multi-user access
  • Requirement B: Ebrary
    • Flexibility and willingness to work openly
    • Textbooks model

Ball - IATUL 2006

first six months
First Six Months
  • Impressed with both suppliers
  • Gradual uptake, due to timing of budgets
  • Student usage of collections much wider than anticipated; Ebrary functionality particularly liked
  • Good progress towards nursing core collection
    • Nearly all top publishers signed up
    • Business models for textbooks being developed

Ball - IATUL 2006

non traditional resources
Non-Traditional Resources
  • Lecturers’ content
  • Course-pack readings
  • Open access course materials (e.g. MIT)
  • Publishers’ content designed for VLEs
    • Mediated by Blackboard
    • Open market

Ball - IATUL 2006

rights management issues
Rights Management Issues
  • Who owns what rights – lecturers, university, publisher…?
  • Number of courses, students, years, campuses?
  • Can you repurpose? Export? Franchise? Sell?
  • More complex than a book on a shelf, or an e-journal package

Ball - IATUL 2006

challenge 2 information architecture
Challenge 2: Information Architecture
  • Currently rough equilibrium between print and electronic
  • E-journal usage intensive among researchers, widespread among students
  • Use of print monographs still integral to teaching
  • E-books, VLEs, digitisation, institutional repositories will tip in favour of electronic

Ball - IATUL 2006



Talis OPAC

Hard-copy books




Hard-copy only journals



Bibliographies. Indexes, Abstracts, Reading Lists, Search engines

Talis list





E-journals/ databases


Ebsco A-Z


In-house electronic materials


Current architecture


External web-pages







Reading lists

Search engines

E-book platforms

E-journal platforms


External web pages

LMS catalogue



Federated Search Engine

Link Resolver





Processes in shaded area invisible to users


Position libraries to support VLEs by:

  • Exploiting electronic medium
  • Influencing content to be provided
  • E-textbooks to move us closer to completely electronic provision
  • Managing rights to content
  • Creating an appropriate information architecture

Ball - IATUL 2006




Ball - IATUL 2006