The Resource Library as Host for an eResources Consortium

Neal’s session provided an in-depth look at an e-resources consortium that began a decade ago, and still exists (albeit in a changed form) today.

Session 9 – Neal Nixon

Neal’s session provided an in-depth look at an e-resources consortium that began a decade ago, and still exists (albeit in a changed form) today.

Presenting on an e-Resources Consortium

The consortium, centered around the University of Louisville (Kentucky) Kornhauser Health Sciences Library, began in 2000 when 9 metro-area hospitals and their libraries decided to work together and from the Louisville Medical Center.  A “cooperative spirit” prevailed that made the consortium possible, and certainly contributed to its initial success.

Some Nuts & Bolts (of the early days):

  • Kornhauser, with a committed budget for eresources, was committed to paying its original share and did all the negotiations.  The hospital libraries simply divided the remainder.
  • Key part of the negotiations: the resources were purchased not as site licenses, but as numbers of seats.  In some cases, additional seats weren’t even necessary; the current number was sufficient for all members!
  • Initial resources: MDConsult, Stat!Ref, Ovid.  It became clear that the resources desired were those needed for clinical support, not research.
  • Choosing the databases was the easy part…The difficulties came during the discussions around which collections and journals to subscribe to.
  • Each library sent a representative to make the case.  However, Kornhauser was the “800 pound gorilla in the room” and could make final decisions, since it was doing the negotiations and paying the bulk of the costs.

From these basic facts about the beginnings of the consortium and how it worked, Neal went on to discuss some of the issues.  The first being, not surprisingly, working with IT.  But work they did.  The next big issue (and, in fact, ongoing issue) is that Kornhauser was in charge of billing, which had complications both in actually collecting from the hospitals in the consortium and in dealing with the large amounts of money that then sat in the University’s accounts until the resource bills were paid.  Another interesting feature of Kornhauser’s handling of the accounts was that they then also saw all the statistics…and saw that some of the hospitals weren’t using the resources they paid for!

10 years later, a few things have changed.  Members have come and gone, and the cooperative spirit has changed into a competitive jealousy.  Only 3 of the hospital libraries are left, although some of those that disappeared were simply absorbed by the University.

We’ll start with Neal’s negatives (just so we can end with the positives!):

  • Definitely more work for the Kornhauser staff (billing, negotiations, etc.)
  • Resources didn’t always match the needs
  • What should have been a PR win (cooperation! saving money! providing resources!) often confused and raised questions.
  • Loss of hospital libraries?

Positives:

  • Really did improve access
  • More clout with the vendors (big contracts means they listened…a little)
  • Helped Kornhauser develop a better understanding of the hospital libraries (UL does not have a connected hospital)
  • Vendors could coordinate training
  • Made it easier for personnel moving between locations: the resources stayed the same!
  • More buying power
  • Allowed Kornhauser to truly fulfill its role as a Resource Library.

All in all, an excellent presentation from Neal.  This was the first time I had really heard about the down and dirty parts of forming a consortia, and it provided both a good generalizable overview with lessons learned as well as an interesting story of the long-term experiences of a specific location.  Thanks, Neal!

(For the entire presentation, visit Neal’s posted slides!)

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