Case Study 3: On-demand digitisation for module reading lists
Case Study 3 investigated the best approaches for delivering scanned course readings online via the CLA Licence. The focus was to help develop the Library's digitised course reading pilot service, known as Electronic Key Texts (EKT), into a full service. The following is an overview; you can download the full internal report (in PDF format) here, which also covers Case Study 2.
- An investigation of other EKT services provided information for subsequent stages of the case study.
- A service model was drawn up, listing different options for each stage of the lifecycle of the digital reading, with possible advantages and disadvantages of each option.
- Based on the experiences of other services, it seems likely that demand for the service will be high and continue increasing over the first three years and beyond, reaching a point where it is financially unsustainable before it levels out.
- Estimated costs for delivering this service were established based on timings of the workflow from the EKT pilot serivce.
- Given that the service is likely to become very expensive, different funding models were drawn up, exploring the idea that academic departments might be asked to subsidise the service in some way. It is recommended that all readings be paid for by departments, but subsidised by the Library.
- Knowledge about on-demand digitisation practices at other comparable institutions, which can inform developments at York.
- Models, estimate of demand and costings which will inform the transition of the EKT pilot study into a University-wide service.
Secondary outcomes of the study
- Demand for online course readings was found to have increased, even for established services, by up to 100% in one year. All of the institutions looked at in detail have seen an increase.
- All of the services looked at in detail use one of two methods for obtaining the majority of their online course readings: British Library’s Higher Education Scanning Service (HESS) and in-house scanning. Ingenta Heron is more likely to be used as a secondary method, as it is the most expensive method. One institution also outsources to a reprographics company outside of term time.
- The CLA licence is the main means of copyright clearance used. Again, Heron is used either as a secondary means, for material not covered by the CLA licence, or isn’t used at all. Only one institution does a significant amount of clearance direct with publishers, but they also increasingly use the CLA licence.
- Staffing models and the number of FTEs employed vary. Hedges and Secker found that the number of staff ranged from 0.5 FTE or less to 5 FTE or more, with the average being 2. (View their report here in PDF format.) One institution has 6 FTE. Some HEIs have dedicated teams. Others split the workflow across more than one team. Another model is to have a very small core team (e.g. one single member of staff), but draw in other people at busy times.
- Record management, yearly renewals and the CLA return are a significant burden as they are extremely time-consuming. Solutions include Heron PackTracker, Excel or Access databases and bespoke applications.
- A precise estimate of the likely demand for the EKT service is problematic: the best we could say was that demand is likely, within the first three years, to be in the low thousands of readings provided annually. However, the following points emerge:
- Other services are seeing demand increasing by a large amount (up to 100%) yearly.
- Demand has been increasing rapidly since the introduction of the CLA Scanning Licence in 2005, which allows services to offer readings free-of-charge to departments.
- Some EKT services are providing readings numbering in the low thousands annually.
- This level of demand does not seem to be saturated - even well established EKT services are currently offering a smaller number of readings than the total number of modules run by their institutions annually.
- One important factor which affects the level of demand is how well the service is promoted to academics and departments. Several services report being cautious in how they promote their services, for fear of not being able to cope with demand.
- A fully library-funded service will eventually become financially unsustainable if demand continues to increase to it's potential saturation point, leading to the suggestion of paid-for services.
- Costings for offering a full EKT service to whole University were established based on the estimate of potential take up and the time-and-motion study.
- Based on timings obtained from the EKT pilot study, we calculated costs of £10.79-£14.85 per reading.
- If the levels of demand suggested are anywhere near correct, this could mean costs for the service of between £10790 and £74250 a year.
- These figures exclude liaison time, which is very variable.
- Possible funding models for the EKT service were drawn up, based on discussions with key staff at York. Options include:
- Offering departments a certain number of free readings, then charging at cost-price once the limit has been reached. This solution is potentially unfair to departments which make heavy use of the service and has an additional administrative burden attached to it - recording when a department has reached it's limit.
- Asking departments to pay for all readings, but subsidising them. - this seems to be the fairest and most advantageous. We recommended this option to York.
- Setting up a self-service digitisation suite for departments to use. This option was suggested, but seems very problematic. For example, how would copyright/licence adherence be enforced?
- Charging all readings at cost-price to departments - this seems a step too far and may discourage use of the service.
- The investigation of other EKT services and the exercise of compiling the service model lead us to recommend the following options:
- Allow academics to request readings they want digitised. This will increase academic 'buy-in' and result in the most relevant material being digitised.
- Use the British Library's HESS service as the default method, with in-house scanning for items not availble via the British Library.
- Scan under the CLA Scanning Licence, using Ingenta Heron for material not covered under the CLA Licence. Many institutions already subscribe to the CLA Licence and there is no additional cost per unit. Heron is able to clear items not covered by the CLA, but charges per unit.
- Use Heron PackTracker, as this has time-saving functionality, such as the ability to automatically generate CLA returns. Building an in-house database using MS Access or similar is possible, but time-consuming and difficult to create.
- Metadata should be kept to a minimum, as digitised readings will, for the most part, only be kept temporarily. Appropriate file names and links are all that is necessary to identify readings.
- Storage and access depends largely on the set-up at your institution. We found using the institutional virtual learning environment (VLE) the most suitable method as it is already embedded in students' study and provides access control and other functionality.
- Consider limiting or phasing promotion of the service initially, until levels of demand are known, especially if the service is to be fully funded by the Library.
- Consider charging academic departments for readings. The model we recommended for York consisted of charging departments for every reading, but subsidising them (so that, for example, the department pays the cost of obtaining a reading from the British Library, but staffing and other costs are paid by the Library). Our work and the experiences of other EKT services suggest that free-to-department services will become financially unsustainable, due to increasing demand.
- Use the process engineering methodology to map all of the digitisation activities within your institution and look for areas of cross-over which might be done in common. At York, we found that different people involved in different areas of digitisation were carrying out the same tasks and potentially duplicating effort. Involve key staff directly involved in digitisation to get the most out of this exercise.