Tag Archives: Databases

National Core Content Procurement – Survey Feedback

To follow Richard Bridgen’s update on the national core content procurement work, I’d like to follow up with a short post to mention how we used feedback from January’s survey of NHS library teams to refine the selection criteria for HEE-funded digital knowledge resources.

As a reminder, selection criteria are high level criteria used at the start of the procurement process (the ‘invitation to quote’ stage) to guide our decisions about which resources to seek quotes for, and then again at the end of the process, to select and justify the final resources purchased. They are thus different from evaluation criteria which are used in the middle part of the process, to evaluate all capable providers.

The responses to the survey question about selection criteria were mostly very helpful. They helped further define the criteria we had already proposed, for instance to reflect the aspects of ‘quality’ and of ‘breadth’ that you feel are important. For instance, currency of content (lack of embargoes) is clearly regarded as important, and many survey respondents highlighted the need to try to better cater for specialist groups. Survey responses also pointed to the need to include ‘continuity’ as an additional criterion: many of you commented on the value of long term stability and the fact that if a resource has been purchased centrally for some years, funds which may once have been used to purchase it locally will have long since been diverted elsewhere!

Some of the suggestions for ‘additional’ selection criteria – such as access via mobile devices, interoperability, service availability, stability of content, customer support – were a useful reminder of what is important to customers, but are in fact already built into the Framework Agreement procurement process. This is because they are included in Framework as service requirements: suppliers will not have been included on the Framework unless they can demonstrate they meet these requirements. Some of the suggestions were unfortunately too broad to be useful without further clarification (‘usability’ was our favourite in this category!).

So in summary, as a result of your feedback, we have added widened our definitions for all criteria, and added continuity to the list, which now looks like this.

Breadth: this resource will contribute to a collection which supports our aim to provide the NHS workforce in England access to resources which support the range of NHS functions, specialisms and priorities;

Quality: this resource supports our focus on resources which healthcare and knowledge professionals regard as being of high quality. Key indicators of quality are currency, authority (peer-reviewed content, expert editors) and relevance;

Value for money: there is evidence that

  • central or collaborative procurement of this resource provides a clear discount on local procurement
  •   if this resource were not purchased centrally or collaboratively, many organisations would seek to purchase it locally;
  • current or anticipated usage of this resource indicates that full text cost per download is/will be less than the cost of access via document delivery

Discoverability: this resource is likely to be readily discoverable via multiple routes, including the NICE-provided infrastructure and current/future alternative routes;

Recommended by LKS: a significant number of LKS think it is essential or highly desirable to include this resource amongst those purchased centrally;

Continuity: it makes sense to continue to make procure this resource centrally/collaboratively, because it meets other criteria and there is dependence on its continued availability/discontinuation would have a significant adverse impact.

Thanks again for your input.

Helen Bingham
Head of Knowledge Services and TEL, HEE (South)

Core Content Re-procurement Update

As you know, the current contract for core content resources  has been extended to 31st March 2019.  HEE is now in the process of deciding which resources to purchase from April 2019 onwards, supported by a Core Content Re-procurement Group including representatives from HEE and LKS in each region and colleagues from NICE (group members are listed below).  The results of the recent survey of LKS managers and audit of local e-resource procurement are very interesting and have significantly informed our thinking.

The key findings from the survey of LKS managers are that:

  • There is broad support for the selection criteria we have proposed, although several respondents surveyed suggested additional criteria
  • The most popular type of resource for national procurement is bibliographic databases
  • The top three individual resources identified for inclusion in the national collection are Medline, Embase and CINAHL with full text
  • The single resource which was most popular as a suggested addition to the national collection was Clinical Key
  • The most popular resource type suggested as an addition to the national collection is a collection of journals or a specific journal title and there was also considerable support for provision of a point-of-care tool
  • There is general agreement that a bespoke single search solution for access to NHS-funded e-resources is essential, both for end-users and for NHS librarians and advanced searchers
  • There is agreement that it is reasonable to expect NHS librarians and advanced searchers to use suppliers’ interfaces to bibliographic databases, though there is also a significant amount of divergent opinion
  • There is general agreement that evaluation of suppliers’ interfaces should form part of the selection criteria for inclusion of resources in the national collection
  • There is no clear consensus about the desirability of having a national discovery service
  • There is continuing disquiet among some librarians about the reliability and functionality of the HDAS interface and the quality of the ProQuest search interface
  • Most managers indicated that they would definitely or possibly be willing to contribute local funding to collaborative procurement, but with caveats relating to understanding the detail and cost benefits
  • There was broad support for the draft HEE Digital Content Strategy and many useful suggestions for augmentation

If you would like to see the full survey report, if you are in the London & South East please email lucy.reid@hee.nhs.uk, if you are in the Midlands & East please email richard.bridgen@hee.nhs.uk, if you are in the North please email dominic.gilroy@hee.nhs.uk and if you are in the South, please email jenny.toller@hee.nhs.uk.

The audit of local e-resource procurement reveals which e-resources are most commonly being purchased at local level, the total spend on each product/with each supplier, and an indication of usage levels and cost-per-download figures.   We are treating this information as confidential and therefore not in a position to share.

We are now using the survey and audit feedback, together with our knowledge about usage of existing core content resources, to derive a short list from a long list of resources for which we would like NICE to seek quotations. We are, of course, highly mindful of our budget constraints.

In terms of next steps in the process of re-procuring content for 2019-2022, the timeline is:

2018 Activity
End March Confirm with NICE the specific products we would like suppliers to quote for
May Suppliers are invited to quote for our selected products included in tender
July Suppliers respond with quotes and how they meet the tender specification
August – October Quotes evaluated
November Contracts agreed with successful suppliers
2019
April New resources become available

If you volunteered your services to help with the evaluating resources, now’s your chance.  Please see the email from my colleague Lucy Reid from HEE London and South East about what we need you to do and how to get involved.

Richard Bridgen, Knowledge Systems Manager, HEE Midlands and East on behalf of the Content Re-procurement Group:  Nicola Ager, Kaye Bagshaw, Helen Bingham (Chair), Richard Bridgen, Alan Fricker, Imrana Ghumra, Dominic Gilroy, Steve Glover, Celestine Johnston, Lucy Reid, Marion Spring, Jenny Toller

LKDN Statistics – what can we learn from them?

I have been trying to turn statistical data from the national collection into information that tells me something about trends and/or the health of our libraries in the south. My thoughts from this exercise may help the Metrics Task and Finish group as one of our next tasks is to review the statistics collection.

First of all I had to decide which of the 139 lines of figures submitted would work well in comparison across the years. I couldn’t compare everything as there probably aren’t enough hours in the day to go through the whole lot, besides which I think a certain boredom factor might intrude on the thinking processes. I worked with Tricia Ellis to decide which lines to include. We wanted some analysis that would identify trends and patterns of progress, investment and activity. We tried to work out which statistics would show our successes and went for 1. Income and expenditure  2. Staffing levels  3. Library activities, i.e. loans from stock, user education sessions, literature searches undertaken, etc. and  4. Changes to library infrastructure, e.g. WI-FI access

These are the specific areas I looked at comparing three years of submissions for the South West: 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15

What did I learn?
Income and Expenditure
 – Library income has not changed very much over this period, some libraries have lost income where staff have moved to other Trusts but this meant that another library in the area then gained that income. However, the non-recurring income has fluctuated wildly, only one library has non-recurring funds which remained fairly static.  For some libraries this may be significant as they rely on these for their service.  I felt that these funding figures didn’t really tell me a lot so I had the idea of looking at the number of users and maybe working out what each library spent per user.

Total number of users – is this an indicator of the busy-ness of the library? Of course this depends on data cleansing – if some libraries do not clear out expired users from their systems they may be over counting memberships.  In order to get a more meaningful comparison of libraries I split them into two groups – small and large libraries based on library staffing figures. I compared memberships with expenditure and was able to work out the average spend per user.   This made me ask a question  – to show value for money should we be increasing our library membership and decreasing our expenditure so that the average spend per user would actually get smaller?
Staffing levels  (wte and staffing mix)  – the data includes library qualifications, other qualifications, none.  I did not pick up on any trends in staffing levels, most remaining static, there are some discrepancies due to reported vacancies.  In the South West over 50% of staff have a professional qualification and are paid on Band 5 or over.  12% of staff have a paraprofessional qualification. I found out that we have had and have maintained a well-qualified set of staff.

Loans from stock  – includes renewals, but there are variants as each library has a different number of loans and renewals allowed. In some libraries book loans to own readers have gone down but overall figures look fairly static showing that our book stock is still of importance to library users. Loans to local networks have gone down slightly as would be expected with the increase in ebooks.  This figure could be an indicator of the importance of the collection to others and shared resources remain vital to the cost effectiveness of libraries and ease of access to our readers.

Copies supplied by other libraries – local networks, British Library, or others – I was looking for trends. Most libraries show a downward trend for document supply but there are exceptions with two or three libraries trending upward.  No conclusions to be drawn here.

Literature searches – total number of mediated searches – are these increasing or decreasing?  In the South West there has been a steady increase which is encouraging as this is one of the areas where some analysis of searches can show how the service impacts on management and clinical decision making.

User education and induction – numbers being made aware of our services. There appears to be a lack of consistency in the way librarians collect these and figures vary greatly – for example, one library has done nearly 5000 inductions in one year whereas all the other libraries have figures nearer to the figure of 700. Two libraries simply can’t supply these figures but don’t say why.  Without comparing membership figures it is hard to tell whether the smaller libraries are doing just as well as the larger ones in providing user education.

Current awareness  – bulletins, blogs, RSS feeds and social media – the number of blogs increased,  RSS feeds figures are static, Social Networking has increased but some Trusts don’t allow libraries to do this so it feels unfair to compare them. As we are simply counting yes or no in this area I can see the activity but this figure does not tell me about outreach or impact. Do library managers analyse the activity in this area to get a more meaningful result?

Journals – print titles, electronic only, print with electronic. Electronic only titles have increased.  Nothing really useful to be learned here so why record it?

Collaborative purchase scheme – figures went up and then back down. Although this collaborative purchases is key to getting good value for money the way we record it doesn’t tell us enough, how many resources were made available to how many libraries through these different schemes?

eBooks  and Databases – these figures don’t have story to tell – why count?

WiFi – most libraries have WiFi now can we now assume that this is the norm and stop counting it?

I would be interested to know if anyone else has tried to get a “story” from the annual statistics collection and if not, are there other statistics that you have used to plan services or make a decision?

Dorothy Curtis
Deputy Library Service Manager
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS FT
Dorothycurtis@nhs.net