September 1, 2014

Serials Solutions Launches Collection Analytics Tool Intota Assessment

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Intota AssessmentProQuest subsidiary Serials Solutions launched Intota Assessment, a collection analytics service designed to give libraries a holistic view of their serial and monograph holdings in both print and electronic formats, facilitating a comprehensive, data-driven approach to collection management. Intota Assessment is the first launch of the Intota cloud-library services platform (LSP).

“Intota Assessment addresses a number of aspects of our collection. One of the things it lets us do, with respect to print and electronic books… [is] view our collection as an entirety,” said Kathryn Silberger, senior librarian, digital content services, for Marist College, one of six Intota Development partners that have been beta testing the service since June.

Combining a library’s historical circulation data with qualitative information from sources such as Books in Print, Resources for College Libraries (RCL), Ulrich’s, and the Serials Solutions Knowledgebase, the service simplifies the process of calling up and viewing dozens of reports, such as cost per use, cost by subject, and peer analysis. Features also include evidence-based recommendation support, overlap and gap analysis tools for print and electronic resources to enable “smart weeding,” and automatic generation of reports for accreditation organizations. Silberger offered an example.

“We always get asked for accreditation reports at the busiest time of the year,” Silberger said. “We have to fill in [Association of College and Research Libraries] reports, and you’re just pulling all your data together at the end of the year, and you’ve got to come up with the answers. With Intota Assessment they have pre-filtered the counter report…. You can just click on a link, and you have your answers.”

Silberger also said that the service’s cost per use features had already given Marist’s library staff a fresh perspective on their serials subscriptions. The library was aware of how much it was spending on each journal subscription, and the circulation was regularly reviewed with standardized usage reports. But having cost information and usage information in two places still required a degree of guesswork.

“Now, in five minutes, we can run a report and see the cost per use—what each article, essentially, is costing us,” she told LJ.

Silberger was surprised to find that many relatively inexpensive journals had a very high cost per use.

“We figured we ought to check the really expensive journals, because if they weren’t getting used, that was a way of freeing up money,” she said. “But I was surprised when we would pick up the fact that a journal that might be in the $200 to $250 range was getting used once per year, year after year.”

In these situations, it’s better to cancel a subscription and switch to a document delivery service, for example, to reallocate the funds, she said.

“It makes acquiring electronic journals a much more dynamic process; you can use your resources as effectively as possible.”

In addition, the service’s ability to incorporate RCL data during collection analysis or weeding makes it easy to avoid weeding a low-circulation resource that may be important to keep, Silberger said.

“We can see books that have low circulation, but they’re in RCL. They have won an award, or something like that, [and contrast that with] books that just haven’t been circulating, they’re old, and we don’t see a good reason for keeping them. We can also see if a book is available as an ebook, and do we have it in ebook format? To get all of that on one screen is very useful.”

Intota Assessment is designed to be interoperable with a library’s existing ILS and other systems, and can be used as a standalone collection analytics solution. Assessment, however, is just the first component of the Intota LSP, which will ultimately become a new competitor in the emerging field of cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) suites designed to supplant the traditional ILS. The suite will be designed to pair seamlessly with the company’s Summon web-scale discovery service.

The development of Intota is a natural progression for the company, said Jane Burke, vice president, strategic initiatives for Serials Solutions. Since the company’s founding in 2000, it has focused on developing individual services designed to help libraries address new needs that arose as electronic resources proliferated.

“We believe that the nature of library collections has fundamentally changed, and that old technology just doesn’t work anymore, because the underlying collection and its dynamics are so, so different than when ILSs were built 15 years ago, for example,” Burke said.

Although Serials Solutions did not have a background in the traditional ILS business when it first announced the development of Intota in June 2011, Burke said that the company’s deep expertise in the management of electronic resources and fresh perspective on collection management is an advantage that has enabled the company to bring a new approach. This begins with the way Assessement’s collection analytics tools will remain a central focus of the Intota LSP.

“The phased deployment is unique, and the approach that we’re taking with Assessment at the heart of everything we do is very unique,” Burke said. Collection analytics “is such a pain point. Libraries have to prove their value every single day. For the academic library, it’s really difficult. It used to be that the provost could come in and count the books, and feel that the library budget was being well spent. Today, they can’t come in and count the books. You need to be able to put, not only in front of library staff, but in front of administration, what’s going on. As a non-automated process with current tools, [that process] is very disconnected, and it’s not comprehensive.”

Currently, Serials Solutions has four development teams working in parallel on Intota. Burke said the company plans to launch the next component, an electronic resource management (ERM) and patron driven acquisition (PDA) suite called Intota E, in May 2014. By the end of next year, they hope to have a full beta of Intota LSP ready for testing, including print fulfillment and financial management tools needed to transition to Intota from a traditional ILS.

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Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Associate Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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