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An interview with Anette Schneider

Interview by: Margaret Adolphus

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Photo: Anette SchneiderAnette Schneider, librarian at the Danish National Library, Denmark, talks to Margaret Adolphus about her role and the key issues facing the Danish library community while at the 2007 UKSG conference.

Anette's role is to help negotiate electronic resources for public funded organizations in Denmark, such as universities, research institutions, education schools, central administration and hospitals.


Can you describe your role?

I am a librarian, and I help negotiate electronic resources for public funded organizations in Denmark, such as universities, research institutions, education schools, central administration and hospitals.

How do you go about deciding what e-content to buy?

We get proposals or suggestions from publishers and libraries, but very few from end users because the libraries act as a gateway between us. Then we ask all those libraries we expect to be interested in that topic if they have an interest in this product, if they want a trial access, and we tell them as much as possible about pricing possibilities, terms and conditions, etc.

So presumably you negotiate on behalf of more than one organization?

Yes, it’s consortia. If only one library was interested, then we would probably tell them to do it by themselves because there are only three of us doing this job in Denmark. We have 300 libraries currently active in one of many agreements, so it would be too much if we had to negotiate for one library.

What sort of e-content is interesting to your people?

All kinds of electronic resources, we have negotiated journals, books, reference works and databases – it’s everything.

So what do you see as the key issues on serials?

It’s the pricing, and then we have to find out about the problems of serials [in being transferred], but hopefully UKSG will come up with some suggestions.

What are the problems?

The main one is journals changing publisher. We pay for something, we miss it, and we have to pay again, that’s a big, big problem. Also, we can lose content if they also remove back files. Price increases are another problem for libraries, because in Denmark inflation runs at 2.5 per cent and prices increase by 5, 6, 7 per cent.

Can you describe the relationship of the Danish Library Agency in the planning of library services?

The Danish Library Agency is the department between the Ministry and the libraries. It covers both public, research and university libraries. The department I work in, the Danish Electronic Research Library, covers only research libraries. So we have nearly nothing to do with the public libraries.

How do you see research libraries changing in the next five years?

Already this year [2007] we have had a lot of changes in universities in Denmark because there have been many mergers. Last year we had 11 universities, by the end of this year it will be 7, so there will be a lot to do with the libraries formed by these new relationships. Additionally, a lot of our education schools and some schools called "centres for further education" will also be merged from 23 to 8.

And how will that affect the libraries? Will there be staff cuts?

Hopefully not staff cuts, it’s more to do with the intellectual property held by the libraries that will be affected. One library subscribed to ten packages, the other library only subscribed to five, so what does this mean when the libraries merge? Will they all have access to all the content of the biggest university? If so, they'll get access to a lot of content for which they have no need. But, from an administration point of view it’s the easiest way for everyone that all IPs from one institution have access to everything.

How do you think that serials will change over the next decade?

I can’t say how long it will take, but I think that more will follow a different publication model, more open access. For example, it could be that the author has to pay an author fee, and then everyone in the world can have access to this article, without paying anything.

But how will this affect peer review?

I’m not sure that it will affect peer review because peer review still exists in the open access world.

What will happen to publishers?

I’m not sure that anything will happen with publishers. Perhaps some of them will be merged. We don’t know, but there will still be a role for publishers.

But what will that role be?

It will be hosting and peer review – articles will still have to be hosted and registered.

Are there any other changes you see in the access to information?

I think that the walls between journals, books and databases will disappear. With electronic information, it has no meaning to the end user that something is an article or a chapter in a book, you have to be able to search it in a database.

So this would just be a database?

Yes, I think it would be in a database.

How will research libraries change, apart from the mergers you have described?

Libraries have already changed a lot during the last couple of years. They will provide space for students, electronic resources and places for information education. Librarians will have to tell students how to do searches, educate them in using electronic resources, where to find them and so on.

So, the librarian’s role will change too, being what could be called a cyberguide?

Yes, instead of registration it will be a cyberguide.

Will the physical library still exist, and what will it be used for?

It will be used for students to do group work, find and print materials, and so on. But it will be more for studying.

Can you tell me about any particular projects you are involved in?

In Denmark, we are involved in Knowledge Exchange, that’s one of our main current projects. The Knowledge Exchange is an organization between SURF from the Netherlands, JISC from UK, DFG from Germany, and DEFF from Denmark. It’s quite new, just one year old. Working together on this project, we have just done an EU survey about national licences.

And any further projects?

There will be further projects, but at this moment in the licensing area we will try to use a benchmark to see the difference in terms and conditions from three different publishers in these four countries. It hasn’t started yet, but we hope to be able to tell each other what is in our agreements.

What do you hope to get out of these projects?

Hopefully we shall get better terms and conditions and perhaps also better pricing if we are four strong countries working together.

See http://www.knowledge-exchange.info/ for more information about Knowledge Exchange.

Interview conducted by Margaret Adolphus at the UKSG conference in April 2007.