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To Beta or Not to Beta: Considerations for Medical Libraries Megan Curran University of Southern California Norris Medical Library
Beta 101 • Increasingly tech-savvy librarians become involved in vendor beta tests • Exciting academic & clinical tools in development • “Me first!” • Librarians must ask: “What do we want & what do we need? ”
Evolution of Beta • • Product development: the old alpha & beta Today: constant releases, perpetual beta Beta as marketing tool, user in-group “Windows 7 was my idea. ” So why bother?
Desperately Seeking Solutions Mistakes Libraries Make Sometimes DIY is not the way to go… • Perils of in-house programming • Onus of technical maintenance & upgrades • Maybe it’s not on the market for a reason! Photo: Max Sparber
When Beta’s a Bad Idea • Staff or hour cuts, position consolidations • Once the product’s available, will your library be able to buy it? • Lack of staff expertise or enthusiasm
Beta Benefits • ¾ of successful product innovations come from user demand • Debugging leads to expert users – Be a resource to your library & others • Forging strong customer-vendor bonds – Better customer service when you need it most – Sometimes preferential pricing agreements Von Hippel, E. “The dominant role of users in the scientific instrument innovation process. ” Research Policy 5 (1976): : 212 -239.
The Best Testers • Consider what individuals or departments in a library will undertake a test – Workload & enthusiasm (their benefit from product) – Personal comfort with technologies – “inventive users” unconcerned with how it works technically, only whether it meets their needs Von Hippel, E. “The dominant role of users in the scientific instrument innovation process. ” Research Policy 5 (1976): : 212 -239.
The Best Vendor Partners Photo: D Sharon Pruitt • Like in testing, so in customer care • # & distribution of beta • When beta goes bad, the Internet listens • Don’t be afraid to drop out!
Who is Pubget? • Free biomedical “pathing” engine • Retrieves PDFs from Pubmed & other biomedical article databases in 1 click • Launched in 2008, now serves 300 academic & corporate institutions • Users grew 800% since end of year 2009 Davies, K. “Pubget searches and delivers scientific journal PDFs. ” Bio-IT World 8, no. 4 (July/August 2009): 9. Pubget. http: //corporate. pubget. com/aboutus/landing. Accessed February 16, 2011.
What is Paper. Stats? • Paper. Stats uses an organization’s vendor portal log-ins to access vendor side COUNTERcompliant journal usage statistics • Ability to calculate cost-per-use & comparison between a la carte purchasing & packages • 2010: 1 -click ARL & AAHSL survey reporting
Beta Testing Paper. Stats • USC’s statistics need • Formulation of idea • USC’s close work with Pubget • Continued relationship about features, marketing
Economies of Beta • Strange bedfellows: libraries strapped for cash, working for free for-profit companies • Economic models vary widely – – – Free trial access to product before conversion to paid after test Discounted price to beta testers for their service “Buck a Bug” contests Some software developers paid companies for the privilege of beta testing! Some insist librarians get paid for the work Dolan, R. J. and Matthews, J. M. “Maximizing the Utility of Customer Product Testing: Beta Test Design and Management. ” Journal of Product Innovation Management 10 (1993): : 318 -330. Prahalad, C. K. and Ramaswamy, V. “Co-opting Customer Competence. ” Harvard Business Review (January/Februrary 2000): : 79 -87. Grenier, T. “Beta blockers. ” Library Journal 135, no. 10 (June 2010): : 52.
Librarians as Beta Testers “There’s a passion that librarians possess that a typical enterprise buyer doesn’t have. Librarians care about more than just the bottom line, they want to do the right thing for their patrons, and that affects how they test. Beta tests with librarians are better than with other communities because of their enthusiasm, their willingness to go that extra mile. ” Pubget President Ryan Jones
Contact Me Megan Curran, MLIS Head of Metadata & Content Management Norris Medical Library University of Southern California megancur@usc. edu