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Annual Survey to Common Knowledge Groups by JSC: Goals, process, timeframe


Since 1998, JSC has organized an annual survey to solicit input from the UC bibliographer groups on potential resources for co-investment and systemwide access (Tier 1s). The survey requests that bib groups work together and numerically rank their priorities for ongoing subscriptions and one-time purchases. Over the years, the resources requested included abstract & index databases, journal packages, data sets, image or video collections, ebooks and other content of interest.

In addition, the surveys provide input on potential one-time purchases by CDL in the years that funds are available, or one-time purchases by campuses where a more favorable price might be offered for multiple campus purchases. Coordinating the campus and CDL purchases, particularly at the end of the fiscal close, can be challenging but the survey helps with that shared communication.

Campus Funding for Tier 1 Co-investment

Typically, the process starts when JSC forecasts an available Tier 1 budget in discussion with the Collection Development Officers who are members of the Shared Collections Leadership Group (SCLG), formerly called the Collection Licensing Subgroup (CLS). The SCLG input on campus budgets provides an indication of the total number of new acquisitions that might be realistic in that fiscal year and the level of demand for consortial co-investment.

Survey Process

With the budget availability data, JSC notifies the Chairs of the Bibliographer Groups – now called Common Knowledge Groups (CKGs) – that the survey is forthcoming and what the specific collection goals might be (if any). In past years, JSC has requested input on resources that are locally licensed but might have widespread importance or where there might be cost efficiencies in handling as a Tier 1; in new digital formats such as data sets, video or images; in areas that are under-represented in consortial collections such as music, ethnic and regional studies or business; and most recently there has been a focus on ebooks.

The Chairs distribute JSC’s survey materials and facilitate the collaboration within their CKG group to fill out the template and collectively agree on ranked priorities. Information collected for the template includes the resource, publisher, pricing estimate, rationale for the choice, and current holdings if known. Surveys are due within a month and are compiled by CDL. JSC reviews and evaluates the submittals, looking for resources that are affordable, meet collection goals, have interest as a Tier 1 acquisition and have high rankings by the bib group (usually only the #1 or #2 priorities will be considered). Certain resources that are more specialized or do not have systemwide interest and JSC returns these to the bib groups for further discussion as a potential Tier 2.

Selection by JSC

JSC narrows the list to a group of resources that are within realistic budget availability for campus co-investment. This is typically a small number taken from more than 100 resources that are submitted by 20 or more groups each year.

Part of the process that JSC goes through in its evaluation includes:

  • Focusing on the top priorities for each group
  • Seeking common interests across groups (duplicate submittals are welcome)
  • Balancing the selected resources across all disciplines, or favoring a disciplinary area where there are limited consortial resources
  • Looking for ‘low hanging fruit’ – resources that are affordable, have widespread interest and are offered by vendors with favorable licensing terms
  • Selecting a mix of ongoing commitments and one-time purchases
  • Setting aside resources that are too expensive or have licensing restrictions that do not fit UC policies for shared collection development

SCLG Approvals

JSC proposes the short list to SCLG for approval. In the final selection step, SCLG approves a list of resources for systemwide co-investment which are incorporated into CDL’s Licensing Work Plan for the fiscal year. At that point, CDL begins the process of contacting vendors, negotiating pricing and licensing rights, working with JSC on a formal proposal that demonstrates the value of the content and cost benefits for SCLG budget approval.

A diagram of the survey process: CDL Decision Flowchart


The timeline begins in early spring when the survey template is distributed (February), responses are due (March), JSC evaluation and SCLG approvals (April) and CDL begins to work with vendors and develop favorable proposals for licensing (May – December). Ongoing annual subscriptions that reach the final SCLG approval stage begin in January of the next calendar year.

The Importance of Collaboration by Common Knowledge Groups

The success of the annual JSC survey depends primarily on the collaborative work and insights of the members of the CKGs (formerly UC bibliographer groups) who share their subject knowledge in new and emerging areas for collection development. This expertise is vital to meet the UC Libraries’ systemwide goals.

Individual UC selectors and Chairs of the CKGs are also encouraged to surface new digital resources during the year for systemwide consideration, and are not restricted to the timeframe of the JSC survey.