As Subscriptions Manager and Electronic Resources Coordinator at the University of Manchester, part of our jobs is to make sure the university gets the best deal on its e-resource investment. But what does “best deal” really mean? Does it mean the least expensive materials? Well, an inexpensive subscription isn’t a good deal if it isn’t used at all. And even free, open source content has a cost associated with the cataloging, discovery, and course management systems we use to make it available.
The challenge is to find better ways to assess the value our students, teachers, and researchers gain from the e-resources we provide. And the end result should be a better plan for accurately conveying the importance of library collections within the larger goals of the institution. But how do you get there? Having spent some time recently tracing the pathways of e-resource usage, we have a few suggestions.