Here’s our approach.
The AIRS database program is in the midst of considering products for the statewide package for July 2012 – June 2013 (and beyond). The AIRS program is voluntary–a library can opt to pay into the program, licensing databases at costs that are far, far lower than what the library would pay individually/retail. A variety of vendor products are being evaluated, including many for K12 environments–which has been one of several criticisms of the current database program offerings, the lack of targeted K12 content. Note the inclusion of Scholastic and Britannica products in the trials…
You can see a listing of products being considered on the database trials page. You’ll find as you delve into those products, many vendors have organized things according to age range/audience level. Remember, you’re the best judge of whether or not a given product contains the content and functionality your patrons need. But a disclaimer: just because a product or individual database is listed on the trials page does not guarantee it will be part of the program. Which is why we need your feedback…
Key for the AIRS committee: we’re looking for feedback to help us better understand which products are best/most useful and of course, most interest to YOUR library. After you’ve looked at the contents and functionality of these products, we want to know the ones that would be most valuable for your library patrons, the ones that would have the greatest impact for your community.
Many libraries are asking: “What’s this gonna cost me?” As of yet, nothing has been determined regarding pricing for Colorado and our interwoven herd of libraries. The reason: we don’t yet know how much these products might cost in multiple configurations, or how costs would be passed on to libraries. Remember: we haven’t settled on any products. If it isn’t obvious–we need your feedback!
It’s a bit of a chicken-egg situation. We need to know what libraries want, and then we can creatively work with vendors, keeping in mind the selected products of most interest to libraries (or groups of libraries). We anticipate negotiations on pricing will involve a lot of communication. Vendors understand that we are negotiating on behalf of all types of libraries, all the while keeping in mind how many libraries “might” want those products based on feedback received to date (through focus groups, surveys, phone calls) and through the database trials.
The uncertainty surrounding library participation comes into play because some libraries want selected products, but still can’t afford even discounted costs (below retail). Reality bites: we want, but we can’t have.
We then have to arrive at “subscription” pricing that libraries pay to participate in the program. By paying, libraries gain access to the most valuable products of interest to their patrons. In establishing pricing, we’re committed to costs that are: a) equitable and transparent; a) affordable; a) sustainable. Why all “a)” ? — because we understand all three of these aspects are crucial priorities for decision making in your library/district.
If pricing is first and foremost the determining factor for a library to participate (and not the content of the products), then that throws a wrench into things. Such a perspective runs counter to everything we’ve heard over the last year from hundreds of librarians!
What we’ve heard: Libraries want great content (better suited to their patrons) and want it to be affordable.
If you’d like to hear more, please consider viewing the archived version of a Jan 2, 2012 Webside Chat on the topic of the AIRS Database program featuring Gene Hainer. In addition, we’ve created an archive of recordings from the live product demos provided by these vendors.
If you’d like to send us your thoughts, please fill out the contact form below and drop us a line.