Supporting Decision Making: Enhanced Performance Tools by and for Librarians

By: Guest contributor, Tue Sep 20 2022

Author: Guest contributor

Our new Collection Performance tool – developed in close collaboration with a panel of librarians – is designed to deliver data that supports budgeting, acquisition decisions, and more. In this post, we explore the development, how it works and where you can access it.

“How can we use our data to help librarians in their work?” This was the question facing our Institutional Customer Engagement (ICE) team when they set out to explore tools they could develop to support libraries who subscribe to Springer Nature journals. Of course, who would know the answer to this better than librarians themselves? The team carried out interviews with librarians who held many roles – acquisition librarians, metadata librarians, library directors, subject librarians, and more – to help them understand where they could add the most value to librarians’ work.

"As a librarian, statistics are very important for decision making,” explained Blessing Chiparausha, University Librarian, Bindura University of Science Education, who was consulted during the development of the new tools. “For example, statistics on downloads, turnaways, time spent on a page, etc. are very important in making decisions about the resources to subscribe to and the training I should offer to my patrons.”

A collaboration with a panel of 17 librarians from around the world has led to the new Collection Performance tool which is now available within the Librarian Portal.

Truly developed in partnership with librarians

The new tools are the result of true partnership working between the development team here at Springer Nature and librarians. Ensuring that the tools deliver genuine value to librarians’ daily work.

“To me, and many here at Springer Nature, it feels important to spend our time and energy on building tools that make librarians’ lives better,” said Björn Johansson. “And the only way that we can know which problems are out there to be solved – and the only way we can know if we have built things well – is by engaging with librarians.”

Librarians were involved at every stage of the development process. From the very beginning, the team at Springer Nature worked with a group of librarians who helped to co-create the tool - by explaining their workflows, conducting usability tests and even sketching some of the initial mockups.

The feedback from librarians who were part of this work has been incredibly positive. With many saying they appreciated the chance to influence how we spend our development and design resources.

“Previewing new features and dashboards made me aware of the different capabilities,” said Bonnie Nelson, Proposal & Information Specialist at RTI International in Durham, North Carolina. “The process was easy, as Bjorn was positive and encouraging. It made me feel as if my input was valued and would be considered seriously in the final product. Budgets are tight so an easy way to see what’s being used, what’s not, and what could/should be is crucial these days. The dashboard makes that easy to do.”

Solving common problems faced by librarians

“We have honed in on three main workflows that we hope the new tools will help with”, explained Björn Johansson, Senior Product Manager at Springer Nature. The three areas are:

  • Content licensing budgeting – since libraries are generally not revenue generators, library directors need to advocate for the library’s content licensing budget. One tool in this negotiation work is evidence of the value that licensed content brings to the organization’s patrons. On the Journal performance page in the Librarian Portal, library directors can now find ‘big numbers’ that represent the great value that the library’s content budget gives.
  • Data to support renewals, cancellations and new subscriptions – acquisition librarians want to be evidence based when they choose which journals to renew, cancel, and add. At the same time, it can take quite a long time to analyze the data. It’s also not always easy to access citations or publishing output in their evaluations. On the Journal performance page in the Librarian Portal, acquisition librarians can now quickly get an overview of the value – including value indicators based on scientometrics – of their Springer Nature journal subscriptions.
  • Identifying new patron requirements – the needs of library patrons shift over time. One indicator that a new journal should be subscribed to is if it gets many access denials. On the Journal denials page in the Librarian Portal, acquisition and subject librarians can now see which journals patrons most tried to access. This means that after finding the price for the journals they can estimate future cost-per-download and perhaps add some new content to their subscription.

You can access the new tools by logging in to the Librarian Portal now. And there's more information about the Librarian Portal and how to use it on our website.


Author: Guest contributor

Guest Contributors for THE LINK include Springer Nature staff and authors, industry experts, society partners, and many others. If you are interested in being a Guest Contributor, please contact us via email.