apply; however, every institution has purchasing processes to follow. It is
best for all parties within the library to be clear on these processes prior
to talking with the vendor. When negotiating with vendors typical of
those selling small data, the requesting faculty need to know that a
successful negotiation depends upon the vendor agreeing to terms and
processes that might be beyond the library’s control. In the best case, this
means long delays in the purchase process; at the worst, the vendor may
not be able to or wish to comply with local purchasing requirements.
When: Given the complications of the procurement process, it should not be
surprising that acquisitions can be complex and require an extended
amount of time. Knowledge of this is not, however, uniform among
patrons, and communication about the realities of negotiating these
types of acquisitions is critical.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, key partners in the
purchase process met to review the program and the list of data sets approved
for potential purchase. These individuals reviewed each order in detail to ensure
an accurate understanding of the request, completeness of vendor contact
information, and accuracy of the researcher’s contact information. These
personnel then held conference calls with each vendor to determine the seller’s
requirements and whether they could comply with local procurement processes.
The calls sought to answer a list of questions, and library personnel made
extensive notes of the conversations and made follow-up calls as needed.
Initiated with the prior understanding that negotiations may not be successful
in either obtaining what was needed or in securing permission to make the data
publically accessible, these calls included the library’s Head of Acquisitions,
E-Resources Librarian, and Data Services Librarian. As a pilot program, the
chance to explore and possibly fail to obtain the ideal situation was accepted
as a necessary step in building a program that would eventually work.
For the pilot project, applicants were asked to describe access restrictions for
the data they requested. Not surprisingly, what an individual applicant described
as a purchase with campus-wide access was not always data to which the
University Library could provide broad, IP-authenticated access. Some data
providers only worked with individual researchers and possessed no pricing or
Collecting Small Data
C O N T I N U E D
SEPTEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC