Gale hopes to have all of its more than 80 publisher partners participating in Gale Virtual Reference Library’s (GVRL) new Usage-Driven Acquisition (UDA) model by Spring 2014, according to company officials.
Initially, when the new UDA model was launched in late October, available content was limited to about 2,000 Gale and Gale imprint titles, including reference titles from publishers such as Macmillan Reference USA, Charles Scribner’s Sons, St. James Press, and others. However, almost all of Gale’s partners have expressed interest in the model, said Nader Qaimari, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Gale. The company hopes to have most of them participating in the coming weeks.
“Immediately upon launching, we had already started discussions with our partners, and almost all of them said they wanted to participate,” he said. “So, we’re in the process now of going through adjusting the contracts and so forth to make sure everyone is clear as to how it works.”
Commitments have not yet been announced, but GVRL currently offers more than 8,000 titles from publishers including SAGE, Dorling Kindersley, Facts on File, ABC-Clio, Elsevier, Wiley, ASCD, and Encyclopedia Britannica.
Building the Model
Libraries interested in the new UDA model will pay an upfront deposit, which in turn gives their patrons unlimited access to the GVRL ebook library for six months. Gale tracks which titles were most used during that time, and then applies the upfront money, in full, toward the permanent purchase of those titles. (Libraries can also continue to purchase GVRL titles individually, or as bundled sets. In every case, all GVRL titles are sold as perpetual licenses offering patrons unlimited, simultaneous access).
Deposits can be made in three tiers with scaled bonuses. Libraries depositing between $5,000 and $14,999 will receive their deposit amount worth of titles after six months, while libraries depositing between $15,000 and $19,999 will receive their deposit amount plus a 15 percent bonus, worth an additional $2,250 in titles. Libraries depositing $20,000 or more will also receive a 25 percent bonus on their total deposit. In the event that any funds go unused, they can be rolled over into another UDA account for another six months.
Gale decided on the model based on feedback about other patron driven acquisition systems, Qaimari told LJ. Notably, in recent years, as publishers and libraries have experimented with patron driven acquisition, uncertainties about budgeting have become a common concern.
“Ultimately, we found that people don’t like restrictions,” Qaimari said. “They don’t like not being able to manage their budget. They don’t like the fact that, in a PDA model, there’s a trigger… after someone looks at a book three times, [the library] automatically owns it, which can lead to budgeting problems.”
The six-month, unlimited access time frame was chosen as a “happy medium” to maintain the program’s appeal for publishers, who might have felt that a year of unlimited access was too long, while a period shorter than six months could be too heavily influenced by class assignments, and might not generate an accurate reflection of how a library’s collection was being used, Qaimari said.
Just as the UDA model was developed in response to emerging issues in patron driven and demand driven acquisition, several features of GVRL were designed, in part, to address concerns that libraries had expressed regarding the acquisition and marketing of electronic content. Following a 2012 relaunch, GVRL was chosen by Library Journal‘s readers as the Best Overall Database of the year, with voters praising the option to purchase individual titles for unlimited simultaneous use, as well as the database’s upgraded search functions, and search widgets that enabled libraries to promote the collection on their homepage or elsewhere on their websites.
Sue Polanka, head of reference and instruction for Wright State University Libraries and author of the award-winning blog No Shelf Required, offered an example of the functionality offered by the GVRL model.
“For one earth and environmental sciences class, we know that we own five subject encyclopedias that match their research assignment perfectly,” Polanka said. “And we know we want them to search just those five. GVRL allows us to do that—it allowed us to purchase those five titles separately [rather than as part of a larger collection], put them in a sub-collection, and provide a persistent URL just to search those five encyclopedias. It really narrows down the results to be very relevant for what this class is working on.”
Wright State University Libraries also uses the GVRL search widgets in its subject-based LibGuides, which are geared toward helping first-year students get started with undergraduate-level research projects, Polanka said.
GVRL provides complimentary ebook MARC records for all of its titles, enabling discovery within a library’s catalog. And, Qaimari added that the GVRL interface is designed to offer newer researchers a pleasant browsing experience, while offering robust search features for advanced users.
“The product addresses the needs of two different types of users: the ‘searcher’ and the ‘browser,’ by providing an enhanced searching experience and a new visual book experience,” he said. “Providing both ‘experiences’ allows for the academic researcher to quickly find the information they are searching for while allowing the other type of user to take their time and browse a travel guide or professional development title. Additional features—such as the ability to cross-search the library’s GVRL collection with Infotrac periodicals and specific In Context resources, as well as the availability of persistent URLs that can be integrated into online syllabi and documents—help faculty and students easily incorporate resources and research into learning.”
GVRL titles are available in PDF and HTML formats, with PDFs downloadable to any e-reader device. All titles can be viewed on any device with a browser, including desktop computers, laptops, e-readers, and Apple and Android tablets.