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Updates and Discussion at the ALA Midwinter 2019 WEST Member Meeting

WEST members met during ALA Midwinter on Sunday, January 27th. About 20 representatives (ranging from deans, to collection managers, to technical services experts) gathered to hear WEST updates and engage with a panel of WEST’s Archive Builders.

Meeting slides are attached here: WEST_ALAMidwinter_2019_SeattleWA_Final

For a narrative overview of the updates and discussion that took place, please read on!

WEST’s 2019 Executive Committee chair, Michael Levine-Clark from University of Denver, started the meeting by formally introducing WEST’s new program manager, Alison Wohlers, who began the position on December 10, 2018. After introductions took place for all present (including several attendees who joined via Zoom), Michael shared some of WEST’s top priorities for 2019. Chief among those priorities are program assessment and strategic planning. Over the next four or five months, the WEST Operations Committee (OCC) and Executive Committee will oversee the development of content and instruments to assess key aspects of the WEST program and its future directions. The planning process kicked off the day after the ALA Midwinter WEST Member Meeting with an OCC half-day meeting to begin scoping the themes and objectives for this year’s assessment.

Also coming up in 2019, is a review of WEST’s budget and membership fees by the WEST Executive Finance Subcommittee and an exploration of models for new member outreach by the WEST Executive Membership Subcommittee. Both the Finance and Membership Subcommittees for WEST were convened under the latest iteration of WEST’s governance model to provide more direct member input on program administration.

Finally, Michael discussed the importance of continuing collaboration in the Rosemont Shared Print Alliance. WEST’s collaboration in Rosemont opens up opportunities to further scale and target the work it does in order to provide maximum value back to members.

Alison picked up with general program updates on membership, archiving, systems development, and more on specific efforts within Rosemont. For membership, WEST happily welcomes a new member in 2019 – CSU Bakersfield! After the close of Cycle 7 in spring 2018 WEST reached a total of 26,246 unique titles. For Cycles 8 and 9, WEST members have committed to just under 4,000 titles. Archiving work is already underway for Cycle 8, with disclosure to take place in spring of this year. Systems development for WEST’s AGUA tool is also well underway. Coding for enhancements began in late 2018 and will extend through September of this year. A more complete discussion of new enhancements for AGUA will take place in the near future.

Several activities are coming up in the near-term for WEST in its collaboration with Rosemont partners. The Rosemont Operations Committee, in which Alison participates, will be investigating how each program identifies and selects its titles for retention. Using that knowledge, WEST can then make strategic decisions about where to focus its energies in the next collections analysis and title selection process. Rosemont aims both to add more unique titles, those that do not yet have a retention commitment among the partners, as well as supporting a target of three copies of each title among the partners. This means that WEST can balance its title selections by contributing to each of these aims, fulfilling both the strategic goals of Rosemont and WEST’s continuing effort to retain titles unique to its own archive. In 2019, the Rosemont Operations Committee will be communicating on a regular basis with OCLC and CRL, as they continue their development work for shared print infrastructure in WorldCat and PAPR. Additionally, the Operations Committee will be working together to scope out functional requirements for a shared decision support tool that fits the basic needs of all the Rosemont participating programs. As part of this work, WEST is evaluating the potential for scaling AGUA to meet those needs. During discussion, a WEST member raised the question of budget and the Rosemont Alliance. Currently, there is no dedicated budget for Rosemont’s work. Each program contributes in kind to the support of the Alliance based on existing staff resources. A future shared decision support tool does imply a necessary business model. However, on the WEST side, because its budget already devotes significant resources to system support and collections analysis, costs associated with a shared tool would likely mean redirecting existing funds, rather than requesting any additional funds from members.

Over the last year, the Rosemont Alliance has developed a set of Access Principles to be shared across the participating programs. The WEST OCC reviewed those principles and provided input that shaped their final form. After OCC review, the Principles were submitted to WEST Executive for final ratification. By November 2018, all Rosemont participating programs had ratified the Principles and the Rosemont Operations Committee began considering the best means of operationalizing them. The Operations Committee has discussed the importance of including member library ILL and operations experts in the conversations for how best to operationalize the Principles. For WEST, this is a highly opportune moment to review and evaluate our long-standing access structures and guidelines, and evaluate how they may be improved. Topics for consideration will likely focus on, but not be limited to, gathering lending statistics specific to shared print, the effectiveness and implementation of an OCLC group access capability for Rosemont, and perhaps consideration of other means of supporting intuitive, complete networks of access to the shared collection. Alison will be seeking out WEST members to participate in these conversations. Please connect with her if you are interested in participating yourself, or recommending a colleague.

After program updates, the meeting shifted to feature five Archive Builder coordinators in a panel discussion. Cathy Martyniak, the Director of the UC Southern Regional Library Facility (also with knowledge of and relationship to the UC Northern Library Facility), began the discussion with a summary of what characterizes Archive Builders in WEST. Among WEST’s 68 members, 6 serve as Archive Builders. These institutions include: Arizona State University, Rice University, Stanford University, UC Southern Library Facility, UC Northern Library Facility, and University of Kansas. Archive Builders are characterized by possessing high density storage facilities that meet WEST’s security and environment standards in order to ensure the safety and preservation of the higher risk titles. WEST Builders also have dedicated staff who engage in specific archive creation services and are compensated for that work with subsidies calculated on an estimated per volume basis. Cathy also noted the commitment that Builders make to providing access to the WEST materials they retain.

Mira Greene, Head of Cataloging and Metadata Services at Rice University, and Erika Dickey, Head of Inventory Records Management at University of Kansas, took the discussion up from there, going into an overview of the archive creation services that Builders undertake for WEST’s higher risk, Silver and Gold, titles. After Builders commit to a list of journal families (full title runs), the work begins at their institutions to identify all related titles (which can include titles omitted in the AGUA reports), validate them at the level appropriate for the risk category, and consolidate them in the storage facility. For all journal families, the records are meticulously examined for any discrepancies with what appears on the shelf. For Silver, which is understood to have a full text presence in the electronic landscape, at a minimum, material is validated at the volume level – with any oddities triggering further checking. For Gold, which is composed of titles with only electronic abstracting and indexing or no discernible points of electronic access, physical validation takes place at the issue level and includes review for condition as well as completeness. Builders record the actions taken and any accompanying notes related to gaps or condition issues in 583 fields of the records in question. During validation, gaps and condition issues requiring an alternative copy also inform the next part of the archive creation process – the call for holdings.

Soobum Kim, WEST Coordinator and Serial Holdings Librarian at Stanford University, and Joel Smalley, Manager of Bibliographic Procurement at Arizona State University, then went through a detailed description of how Builders analyze the holdings of other WEST member libraries in order to further complete the holdings they have. Before sending out a call, Builders undertake considerable work to ensure that a member library does indeed have the material they seek. This is done not only through WEST-provided AGUA reports, but through checking OCLC WorldCat and even local catalogs. When calling for holdings, Builders provide guidance on the process and a customized list indicating specifically which volumes in the library’s collection are being sought. Joel now also seeks out information from WEST members on the reasons they may choose not to contribute holdings requested for the WEST archives, in an effort to target future calls efficiently. Finally, panelists noted that after the calls for holdings take place, gap-filling continues via tools such as AGUA reports and the Journal Retention and Needs Listing (JRNL) tool. Alison noted that the JRNL Oversight Committee is looking into hosting a webinar to refresh users on the “how-to” of the tool. More to come on that.

The information and perspectives provided by Archive Builder representatives during this panel elicited a number of interesting questions from, and discussion with, attendees. One action that emerged from discussion involving the panelists and attendees was the importance of consolidating documentation related to the call for holdings in one location (rather than having it dispersed across the website and the WEST wiki). It also emerged that perhaps it would be productive to periodically send information to the entire membership concerning the call for holdings and what they can expect if they do receive a call.

A few final takeaways for our WEST members about the Calls for Holdings from Builders:

  • Members who agree or are able to review Calls for Holdings lists from builders are not obligated to supply.
  • The contributors process is flexible. We will work with your institution to make the process as efficient and unencumbered as possible.
  • There is no strict time line for responding to Calls for Holdings, though we recommend completing it within a year of receiving the list as we like to send a new list each year.
  • As mentioned, here is a sample “Contributor’s Guide” that a library might receive when asked to fill a call for holdings.
  • Please see the alternative ownership Transfer Agreement if your library or state has legal issues with sending volumes to a WEST Trust builder.

The WEST Project Team looks forward to the next Member Meeting to take place during ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. If you have topics you would like to recommend for a panel or discussion during that meeting, please do not hesitate to email Alison at