DMU Library’s Content Delivery Team are currently implementing ProQuest’s new Intota Assessment product. DMU Library has started the process of populating the Intota knowledge base with subscription, cost, licence and usage data for its full text online resources, A&I databases, e-journals and e-books. We are using Intota in an attempt to streamline work processes across the directorate and provide more effective and efficient outputs for library staff who are part of e-resource/e-journal/e-book renewal cycles and purchase decisions. DMU Library was provided with full access to Intota in Nov 2014, and a number of library staff have spent the last two months or so getting familiar with the online Intota admin system, receiving online training from ProQuest Support and adding first batches of resource data (mainly costs and subscription term data).
I oversee the day-to-day administration of the library’s online resources portfolio, so I am very interested to see how Intota can help improve my own workflows when it comes to online databases management and assessment. The management of a hundred or more different online library databases/collections has traditionally been based on many different silos of information – Excel spreadsheets, Outlook calendar alerts, email inboxes, publisher admin sites, resource paper files and my own memory bank!
When a library e-resource is coming up for renewal, the Content Delivery Team provide subject teams with key info relating to the renewal – this is usually a cost, licence and usage analysis of the individual resource which assists the librarian in making sound and informed decisions to maximise annual library investment in the online products it purchases. This analysis has to be created weeks/months in advance, often set against strict notice period or licence deadlines which need to be met, so plotting the various workflows to join together can be tricky (especially if a number of resources are coming up for renewal at the same time).
Two aspects of functionality within Intota immediately struck me as having the potential to make “life easier” with regards managing elements of this resource data – the ability to create an online review checklist which could be easily annotated during the different stages of a resource renewal process, and the setting up of an automatic email alert for library staff to receive at key points during the renewal. So, I set about reading the Intota user guide to see how I would set each option up to gauge their usefulness…
I have created a basic review checklist within Intota which tries to capture the various stages of the e-resource renewal cycle. I am sure this looks different for all HE libraries, depending on how a resource is purchased and administered. The checklist is very much a work in progress at this stage; I was more interested in exploring the functionality within Intota, rather than scoping out exactly what the checklist should state step-by-step.
Intota allows you to manually input individual “steps” for the renewal cycle you want to create, based on your own library workflows. Once these individual steps are saved, the review checklist is then available to view for each database which is active within the Intota knowledge base and potentially subject to a renewal. Each step of the renewal process then has a box for library staff to “tick” once a stage is completed in the sequence, and an empty “note” field for library staff to enter relevant information (e.g. the date the step was completed and initials of library staff who completed the action).
Intota also allows you to create automated “alerts” which can be emailed to nominated library staff as a prompt to start a particular renewal workflow or to act as a reminder to complete a task in the renewal cycle. I created a draft test alert for an upcoming library resource renewal.
The alert operates in line with renewal milestones (dates) set by library staff in the Database record for whichever resource you want to renew in Intota. These milestones will be based on the resource expiry date, and other key deadlines the library may wish to set for each evaluation stage of the renewal process. So, say a library resource expires on 28 Feb 2015, the library may set a “renewal decision date” of 28 Jan 2015 in line with a 30 day notice period contained in the resource agreement between library and supplier. The renew/cancel evaluation of the resource is obviously going to have to start much earlier than the decision date deadline – library staff need to be prompted to start collating usage data, cost information and the latest licence for subject teams to review. This is where an automated alert may be helpful.
For the test alert I created, I requested an automated email notification be generated 30 days before the “renewal decision date” (28 Jan 2015). An email alert duly appeared in my work inbox on 29 Dec 2014:
Setting up these automated messages as a means to trigger the start of a library workflow is a simple and effective method to begin to better manage processes in this area. The alert requires a “renewal decision date” to be added to all subscribed library resource records within the Intota knowledge base, but once this is populated, it should work well. The alert can also be sent to other library staff, as long as nominated email accounts are listed when the alert is created.
This blog post outlines functionality of two Intota features at the outset of DMU Library’s implementation of the service. The Content Delivery Team will continue to blog on progress and development with Intota over the coming months.