Institutions can now purchase Single Titles* through our new eBook Selector Tool. We have created a user friendly interface which meets the needs of our information center customers which has resulted in the eBook Selector Tool. The tool is available via the Librarian Portal and your licensing manger can arrange access for you. Once access is set up, you can order individual books with flexible invoicing through the tool. We spoke to product designer, Björn Johansson about the development process behind this new tool.
I’m Björn and I do product design for some of Springer Nature’s tools for librarians and information specialists. I’ve been at Springer Nature for three years now and it’s a lot of fun. Before joining Springer Nature I’ve worked at an education-technology startup here in Berlin, and with digital video for kids at the Swedish National Television.
As a product designer my main contribution is to bring knowledge about librarians and their work-lives into the Springer Nature. Before Springer Nature I had last met an academic librarian at Uni (which was a looong time ago). So I’ve spent the past few years trying to learn as much as I can about processes, system and most importantly the people that work in libraries.
Tell us about the research you did for this project and how this informed the design process?
This project is exciting since it will help librarians get more efficient when they license small sets of eBooks from us. It will not make the whole process self-service, but it will transform a first part of the process. Before the tool the selection was done via Excel files and often included some extra communication around pricing with the Licensing manager here at Springer Nature. Now librarians can work together in the eBook Selector to choose the eBooks to license.
But, when and to solve which problems do librarians license small sets of eBooks? How are the choices made, and by whom? And which systems are used? There were many questions I felt a need to answer to make the tool as useful as possible. We also had a first version of the tool that we wanted to check the usability of and understand how well it fit into the library processes.
So I reached out to eight librarians, most of whom already licensed eBooks from us via the ‘old’ Excel process. In Google Meet sessions I interviewed them about their eBook licensing and they also did a usability test of the early version.
In the usability test I asked each librarian to select a handful of eBooks in the tool, and talk-aloud about what they are thinking as they work.
What did you find out about the tool and about eBook licensing in the libraries?
So many things! I was happy to see that the foundations of the first version of the tool was usable and solid. But we had not anticipated how much librarians want to search via ISBNs of various kinds, so we added that possibility to the tool, including that one can search for a list or ISBNs all at once.
Both from the interviews and in the usability tests I understood that many libraries need us to add Purchase Order numbers (PO numbers) to the invoices and we had not added this possibility to the tool. So also that was added - PO number either for each book, or for the whole selection since different libraries have different procedures.
In the interviews I also learned a lot about how eBooks are licensed and added to the library collection and I heard from many that they license single eBooks quite a lot and I also heard that some vendors have very good systems for this. Learning about how well others do it makes me inspired to continue to work on this tool also after the first launch, to make it fit into the library processes even better.
Which features do you think librarians will be most pleased with? Which features were you most keen to include and why?
Seven of the librarians I spoke to had used the Excel based workflow so the fact that this is web based and self-service is in itself a big step up. Also, the tool behaves quite a lot like most e-commerce websites do - search, select, see a list or what you’ve selected, send it off to be processed - which seems to feel easy to work with. Neither of these two aspects are exciting to librarians - it’s just ”as it always is” - but since the tool is only a small step in a long process I want it to be as smooth and “invisible” as possible.
If you are interested in purchasing single titles for your library or would like to find out more about the eBook Selector Tool, contact your licensing manager.