Electronic Ordering of Monographs
Blackwell's Collection Manager
In August 1998, Northwestern University School of Law Library migrated from NOTIS to our new integrated library management system (ILS), Endeavor's Voyager. Life in the NUSLL Acquisitions Department changed all at once. As far back as 1996, when Northwestern University began preliminary investigations for a new ILS, we knew that the Acquisitions Department would experience significant workflow changes. The most welcomed workflow change would be the ability to do electronic ordering. As fate would have it, NUSLL went "live" with Voyager about the same time that Blackwell's announced its newest release of Collection Manager.
Collection Manager is a Web-based acquisitions and collection development tool. Blackwell's worked with academic libraries to develop what they call a "library workflow support system". NUSLL has found the Collection Manager extremely useful and easy for the Acquisitions staff and Collection Development librarians to use.
The Collection Manager was first introduced to the Acquisitions staff as a verification tool and a few weeks later was introduced to Collection Development librarians as a selection tool. Staff can search the entire new titles database by title, author, ISBN, LCN, or by Blackwell's product number. The new title database is not quite as current as First Search Books In Print database. I often need to verify forthcoming title information in First Search because it is not yet available in Collection Manager. Search results are displayed in alphabetical order by title. Next to each title is an icon that indicates the status or handling of that title. Although some of the icons are obvious (e.g. green F for forthcoming), other icons are not easily identifiable. Thankfully, Blackwell's has provided a Help menu that gives a brief description of all icons used in the database.
The search result is an electronic version of Blackwell's approval form with a few added bonuses. Each title has brief bibliographic data including subject headings, as well as status information (e.g. date processed by Blackwell's or expected due date), audience level, type of book (e.g. reprint), etc. What are the added bonuses? Each title has a hot key to either "Request" the title (used by Collection Development librarians) or to "Order" the title (used by the Acquisitions staff). Another added bonus is that if the title is already on order with Blackwell's, the operator can see the order date, the purchase order number and the status of the order. If the title has been invoiced and shipped that date is displayed. All this information is available to the Collection Development librarian and helps to eliminate duplicate requests.
We have received mixed review from the Collection Development librarians regarding the use of Collection Manager as a selection tool. Some librarians are happy to cut down on the amount of paper that crosses their desk and embrace electronic collection development while other librarians still find the approval forms more comfortable. If a librarian would like to request that a Blackwell's title be ordered using the Collection Manager, they click on the "Request" hot key and fill in the appropriate information including any instructions to the Acquisitions staff such as "route title to Prof. Zippo for course review". All of the Collection Development librarians find Collection Manager useful in building bibliographies.
Once a week the Acquisitions staff retrieves all the electronic requests from Collection Manager. We verify that the titles are not already on order, import the bibliographic records into Voyager from the LC MARC database or OCLC and create a purchase order that we do not print out. We toggle back to Collection Manager and click on the "Order" hot key, fill in the appropriate information including any special instructions to Blackwell's such as RUSH shipment. The order is reflected in real time in Voyager and in Collection Manager. Best of all, we have not generated any paper and do not have to pay postage for mailing out purchase orders.
The relatively minor change in our ordering procedure has been a test of the Acquisitions Department mindset. Some staff share the Collection Development librarians reliance on paper purchase orders; there is still that suspicion that if the order is not on paper it is not official. Other members of the Acquisitions Department are happy to be relieved of the tediousness of stuffing an envelope. We have begun electronic ordering with other vendors, on an experimental level. Our test is to see if when we place an order through their online catalog, we receive the title. The drawback here is that the legal vendors and publishers that NUSLL uses do not have sophisticated online ordering systems comparable to Blackwell's Collection Manager. Unlike Collection Manager, the legal vendors and publishers online ordering systems do not indicate if the electronic order has been received by the system, invoiced or shipped. The ability to track an order through Collection Manager makes it a valuable acquisition tool.
The next step for the Acquisitions Department will be bulk import of bibliographic records using Collection Manager. We do not have a timetable established to implement this procedure, but Blackwell's is ready when NUSLL is ready. Finally, by FY2000 the Acquisitions Department will be doing electronic invoicing with Blackwell's.
Overall, the Acquisitions Department is very pleased with the Collection Manager and look forward to expanding our use. Blackwell's Collection Manager is not the only game in town. In Part II of "Electronic Ordering of Monographs", Marla will write about Yankee Book Peddlers' GOBI. If you would like more information regarding Blackwell's Collection Manager, check out Blackwell's Web page at http://www.blackwell.com/services/cm/cm.html. Information about GOBI can be found at http://www.ybp.com.