How do academic libraries rate streaming media for their collections?
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- Academic librarians are far more interested in the effect of streaming media on instruction than they are in relation to companies that deliver the content, according to new survey data that measures how libraries approach resources such as documentaries, movies, music and podcasts – and how they expect spending on streaming material. the future.
- Almost all respondents, 96%, said that the impact on the instruction was important when purchasing or renewing power licenses, found a survey published on Thursday by the non-profit organization for educational research Ithaka S + R. This was slightly more than the proportion who marked as important annual cost, 94%, and content quality, 90%. At the other end of the spectrum, only 27% said that long-term relationships with a content provider were important, and only 26% said that flexible payment models were important.
- College libraries say that streaming media has become more critical to meet student needs since the pandemic first caused colleges to send students home. Two thirds of the librarians surveyed said that streaming media has become more important to meet student needs since March 2020, and 42% said that the demand for streaming media has increased since then.
The survey comes at a time when the proliferation of streaming media opens up educational and research opportunities, but also underscores budgets, said Makala Skinner, senior survey analyst at Ithaka S + R and co-author of a report the non-profit organization published on the survey results.
“The demand for this content is growing, but it is challenging for libraries to meet this demand in a financially sustainable way,” said Skinner.
Researchers could find little data available on the subject. So at the end of last year, Ithaka S + R investigated library employees in the US and Canada who are responsible for buying streaming media licenses. It received a total of 309 responses from public and private institutions of various sizes, most of which were in the United States
The job title of the purchasing manager varied by library. Sometimes it was a collection librarian, Skinner said. In other cases, it was the library director.
Most respondents, about two-thirds, said that their libraries spent between 1% and 6% of the material budget on streaming media in 2021-22. About one in 10 used over 10%.
Baccalaureate institutions currently spend an average of 5% of their material budgets on streaming media. Master’s institutions averaged 5.5%, and doctoral universities spent 2%. But doctoral institutions tend to have much larger overall material budgets than smaller colleges, which means they can still spend more in dollar amounts.
All types of institutions expect to spend increasing parts of their material budgets on streaming. Baccalaureate and master’s colleges expect to roughly double their spending share to 10% of their budgets over five years. Doctoral institutions expect to spend 5%.
But this does not necessarily mean much more available for streaming media. Only 35% of respondents expected their material budgets to increase over that time. A further 35% expected it to go down.
“Does that doubling actually mean more dollars?” said Skinner. “Or is it a larger part of an existing pie that is shrinking? I think there is a nuance there.”
Decline has already been noticed in some libraries. About half of the respondents, 49%, said that their materials budget had decreased since March 2020. However, 56% of the respondents said that the budget for streaming media increased at least somewhat at that time.
Two streaming media providers dominate the market, according to survey results: Kanopy and Alexander Street. Each service was used by about eight out of 10 respondents.
The two dominant players in the market probably mean that feature films and documentaries are considered the most important category of streaming media for instruction, the report states. And Ithaka S + R saw little reason why the market for this type of media would be shaken by new players, unless mainstream media companies become more open to licensing to educational institutions.
The report suggested that startups and other providers who want to grow in the academic power market should ask some questions about their products: What educational value do they provide? How is their streaming media different from textbooks, where the student-run market is shaken by a movement pushing open educational resources and affordable textbooks?
For librarians, it recommends taking steps to show the value of streaming media. They include tracking usage, evaluating educational needs as they change, and working with instructors who can use the material.