Jared L. Howland

Report of the ALCTS Acquisitions Section (AS) Acquisitions Managers and Vendors Interest Group Meeting - American Library Association Midwinter Conference - Denver, February 2018

Howland, Jared L.

Citation Information: Howland, Jared L. (2018). “Report of the ALCTS Acquisitions Section (AS) Acquisitions Managers and Vendors Interest Group Meeting - American Library Association Midwinter Conference - Denver, February 2018” Technical Services Quarterly. 35(4): 400–403. DOI: 10.1080/07317131.2018.1509450 (requires subscription).

A Comparison of Demand-driven and Subscription Acquisition Models

David Parker: Vice President of Product Management, Video Products – Alexander Street Press (a ProQuest company)

Presentation file

Cory Tucker (University of Nevada-Las Vegas), David Parker (Alexander Street Press), Tom Humphrey (Kanopy), and Doug Mingle (Films Media Group) undertook a study to investigate the cost per use of two streaming media acquisition models: demand-driven acquisitions (DDA) and subscription-based acquisitions. Based on data from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), the working hypothesis was that the cost per use for DDA purchases would be lower than subscription-based acquisitions.

Table 1. Streaming media acquisitions at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas in 2017
Amount Spent Cost Per Use Percent Change In Use Since 2016
Subscriptions $48,000 $3.63 +82%
Demand-driven $41,000 $2.73 +252%

After surveying 30 universities, they found that the average cost per use for DDA acquisitions was lower but there was wide variance depending on a school’s usage profile.

Table 2. Streaming media acquisitions (12 months data, averaged)
Amount Spent Cost Per Use
Low High Low Average High
n = 30
$3,400 $70,000 $0.61 $4.60 $11.05
n = 23
$1,400 $63,789 $0.36 $3.41 $8.02

Key takeaways, highlighted by Parker, included the following:

  1. Each library needs to evaluate its expected usage profile to decide if a subscription-based or DDA model would best meet their needs because there is no such thing as an average school.
  2. Cost per use is lower for DDA when usage is concentrated on a narrow band of subjects or under 10,000 views.
  3. Cost per use is higher for DDA when usage is distributed across a breadth of subjects or over 10,000 views.

Video Acquisition Models and Classroom Use

Doug Mingle: Director of Sales for the College & University Market – Films Media Group (an Infobase company)

Presentation file

Doug Mingle reported on the increasing importance of video in the classroom. According to a report entitled “The State of Video in Education in 2017: A Kaltura Report,” 99% of institutions state that teachers regularly incorporate video into their curriculum, which is up from 67% in 2015.

Given the increased emphasis, and importance, of video in the classroom, several acquisition models exist to meet different needs:

  1. Purchase (physical disc/digital): individually purchased digital files or DVD/Blu-ray discs
  2. Term license : individually licensed streaming media for a set period of time (1 year, 3 years, perpetuity)
  3. Subscription : a collection of pre-selected streaming media that can be renewed annually by the library (library does not select titles individually)
  4. DDA : a pre-determined number of uses automatically triggers a purchase, or term license, for a streaming title

While a physical disc is still, at times, the most appropriate way to provide access to media, sales of discs to libraries continues to sharply decline. Films Media Group sold well over $2 million of physical discs in 2014 which declined 37% in 2015, a further 24% in 2016, and was down another 31% in 2017.

Given the unique needs of every institution, it is important to become familiar with the various purchasing models to know which one(s) will best meet your current needs.

Table 3. A comparison of the various purchasing models available for media
Advantages Disadvantages
Purchase (physical disc/digital)
  • Ownership
  • Preservation
  • Hard to find titles
  • Large amount of money
  • Damage/loss
  • Possible annual hosting fee
Term License
  • Usually high views per film
  • Exactly what a user wants
  • Lower cost per use
  • Title may not be available outside of a package
  • Possibly need to renew lease
  • Title may no longer be available
  • Varying subscription dates for renewal
  • Adds materials quickly
  • Content available for many subject areas
  • New content added regularly for no additional charge
  • Known cost
  • Low views on many films
  • Can be expensive
  • Small percentage of collection viewed
  • Higher cost per use
  • Flexible deposit
  • Lower cost per use
  • deos receiving use
  • Could exceed deposit amount if usage is higher than expected
  • Some packages may not be available

Streaming Video Cost and Quality

Tom Humphrey: Director of Sales & Strategy – Kanopy

Presentation file

Tom Humphrey reported on the increasing significance of video, the cost of DDA models, and considerations when investigating streaming video platforms and usage.

The average American spends 5.5 hours per day watching some type of video. Of the streaming videos watched, 90% are not accessing them via a traditional desktop or laptop computer. Digital video consumption doubled between 2012 and 2016. This massive media consumption has inevitably carried over into the education landscape.

The need for video requires librarians to evaluate the most cost-effective way to deliver the content needed to support the curricular needs of their institution. A study of DDA cost per use across 20 academic libraries showed an average cost per use of $3.42. This amounted to an average cost of $1.63 per student. Humphrey emphasized that although DDA generally shows an excellent cost per use, an overlooked aspect of streaming video is not just use but quality use.

Humphrey proposed multiple ways we might evaluate the quality of a use:

Evaluating and Working with Subscription Agents

Mary Sue Hoyle: Vice President of Sales, Subscription Services Division & GOBI Library Solutions – EBSCO Information Services

Presentation file

Mary Sue Hoyle outlined ways to evaluate subscription agents and the services that good agents should be able to provide libraries. Key ideas in evaluating your current serials agent(s) include the following:

  1. Obtain a copy of the Audited Financial Statements (AFS) with the auditor’s opinion letter, of the vendor, including those of its ultimate parent company
  2. Focus on key financial ratios of the vendor and the vendor’s ultimate parent company
  3. Get professional assistance to interpret financial data - use your institutional resources
  4. Consult commercial credit resources like Dun & Bradstreet (D&B)
  5. Schedule a periodical review with your vendor

Other tips for assessing the health of an agent included the following:

Finally, Hoyle discussed various services that serials agents can provide. Examples included:

Serials agents have the potential to save staff time and money. They can also streamline renewals and payments. Hoyle emphasized that taking the time to learn more about the services provided by your serials agent(s) should be done on a regular basis because those services are always changing and improving.


More information about the interest group, and slides from these presentations, are posted on the interest group’s website on ALA Connect.