Students in the Library

"Using the RIE framework allowed us to make significant improvements to our portfolio management; focusing staff time on what really matters to our users." Angus Brown, Head of User Services

Library Services completed its fifth rapid improvement project in January 2016, focusing on improving the management of our £5.5m subscriptions (electronic journals, books and databases) portfolio. The project  was defined by an overarching goal to deliver the right material at the right price at the right time. Outcomes included:

  • Defined roles and responsibilities across three teams, focusing our liaison teams on collection development (right material) and enabling our subscriptions team to  work within a business framework (right price and right time)
  • A systematic approach to subscription renewal based on an agreed annual review process, rather than the ad-hoc review at point of renewal
  • Improved data management, bringing library liaison staff much closer to subject collections; increasing the opportunities to engage with academics
  • A roadmap for improved communication and understanding with College Finance
  • Incorporation of article processing charges (APCs) into the subscriptions decision-making process,  revealing exactly how and where we pay for article access
  • Elimination of the maintenance and upkeep of 140 usage data spreadsheets, replacing these with a single spreadsheet focused on the <35% we want to review
  • Better financial management, with reporting and development opportunities surfaced for our ALMA library management system

The RIE delivered a significant reduction in email noise that historically slowed and confused decision making processes. Combined with clearer roles and responsibilities, and the shift in attitude towards usage data, we expect this to save around 20% of the overall staff effort devoted to subscriptions as well as eliminating between 4,000 and 5,000 emails annually.

The work will continue with a range of opportunities to progress around ongoing financial management and improved ability to deliver the best possible academic collection within our budget.

Subscriptions contact: Stuart Dempster