The road to an electronic journal collection: using data to pave the way
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Abstract: Over the past several years the Medical Sciences Library, Texas A&M University has been working hard to make as much as possible of our journal collection available to our users electronically. Service quality assessments and focus groups sent a clear message to us that our users want to be able to access full text articles from their desktops, at work and at home. As a result of our success in providing online resources, we have seen definite changes in use patterns that have significant implications for how the collection evolves. We have systematically collected use information for our collection since the early 1980's. Over the past year we began analyzing our use data. We compared historical data to the data we collected from 1995 to the present, examining trends in the use of print journals, comparing online usage to print usage, and calculating cost per use figures for all of our journal titles. Our data reveals several consistent trends: Print usage is now often only 10-25% of what it was 3 years ago. Print usage is declining not only for those titles with electronic access, but also for those available only in print. Many print titles with electronic access availability have cost per use ratios that do not support retaining the print subscriptions. We have also begun an analysis to compare these trends in the 3 major subject areas of our journal collection: biomedical research, clinical human medicine and veterinary medicine. Analysis of this data led to several conclusions and actions: We have set forth on a new path for developing the collection that converts a significant number of our print journal subscriptions to electronic format only. We have targeted groups of print titles for enhancement with electronic access. In order to support this growing emphasis on electronic resources, we have redefined one of our positions to be dedicated full time to serials and electronic resources, a Serials and Electronic Collections Coordinator. We continue to gather user feedback and suggestions concerning our move to electronic journals. Sharing our data usually leads our users to the same conclusions. The road to an electronic journal collection has been quite smooth, paved by our use data.