Jisc’s Digital Archival Collections (DAC) advisory group met again recently. We discussed some interviews we have undertaken with acquisition librarians. The group thinks that DACs need to be taken as seriously as books and journals in library planning because they are increasingly purchased from budgeted allocations, not from under-spend. Purchasing them, therefore, is dependent on very clear evidence of need, if faculty are to be convinced not to spend the whole budget on books and journals.
The interviews and other horizon scanning activities suggest that the UK market for DACs may be shrinking. Budgets were already tight due to long term austerity measures but, at this time of crisis, spend is less likely to be allocated to high-cost DACs produced by commercial publishers.
The group has asked us to focus on the idea that DACs need to be purchased according to their usefulness to teaching, not just to research. Demonstrating their impact and usefulness is critical is they are to continue to be funded.
Some libraries use their DACs as the foundation of course content and the group thinks this trend could accelerate considering recent changes in the way teaching needs to be delivered. This is likely to mean that providers need to adjust their business models for the UK market.
These collections have largely been used for research but if they are to continue to be relevant, they need to be focused on the research remit of the HEI. Focusing on customer needs will become of increasing importance to ensure a viable market.
We will now continue to explore these issues in a series of roundtables. The first, with the HEI library community, will be held in November to test out some of the emerging ideas. We will then go on to arrange some online round tables with publishers to understand more about their perspectives on the community’s needs.