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Knowledgespeak Exclusive -- An interview with Mr.Paul Evans, Head of Web services, Emerald Group Publishing - 06 Mar 2006

Q

Please comment on the specific functionalities of TOCRoSS (Table of Contents by Really Simple Syndication) that differentiate it from the commonly available RSS news feed services.

A

TOCRoSS has various features that differentiate it from commonly available RSS services. It is targeted at institutions that would like to get TOC data integrated to the library OPACs (Online Public Access Catalogue). We are aiming to create this as an industry standard for this type of metadata transfer and this should hopefully help in improving the discoverability of materials to which the library subscribes.

The problem at the moment is threefold:

  • Users have to sign up to services from lots of different publishers.
  • Many libraries do not have the time to include this kind of data in their OPACs.
  • Information entry is manual, which can lead to inaccuracies.

    With TOCRoss, the process of indexing articles within the OPAC is automated, making it possible to increase accuracy, and deliver efficiencies within the library. Potentially, TOCRoSS allows libraries to provide their own unified alerting services directly to the users.


  • Q

    If TOCRoSS is successful, how do you plan to roll it out to other publishers and libraries? What are your expansion plans in this regard?

    A

    We have received interest from a lot of publishers who are keen to use the standard and from libraries who wish to gain control over this type of data. We are now introducing the product through interviews, press releases, attending conferences and other marketing initiatives. We are also looking at a number of options to demonstrate how this works and the kind of deliverables that we can offer to Users.


    Q

    Has the market response for ‘Emerald Librarian Toolkit’ been as expected? Has Emerald carried out any upgrades in the product based on users’ feedback? Are usage statistics looking healthy?

    A

    The initiative has generated lot of interest in the information management press. Given the need for libraries to market themselves more effectively, we are seeing a large increase in the number of requests for resources and additional features that can be included in this toolkit. This includes posters and other practical tools, which libraries can give to their patrons. Based on the feedback we received, we have modified some of the service features in our inside platform, as we call it, which we use to deliver e-content. We now offer integrated searching across content types, customization features, and structured abstracts that help users to reach the important parts of the article much quicker and easily. We have also reduced the number of clicks it takes to download full text articles. We will soon be offering forward reference linking, which we intend to do through the Crossref service. We determine usage rates based on the uptake of materials by our customers. We had a million more articles downloaded in 2004 than we had in 2003 and a similar positive growth is expected for 2005 as well – full figures for 2005 have not yet been analysed.


    Q

    Elaborate on how ‘Emerald Abstracts’ complements your collection of management material.

    A

    Our ‘Emerald Abstracts’ products are mostly in the engineering market, covering civil engineering, computer science and computer & communications security. The other secondary product we have for the management sector is called ‘Emerald Management Reviews’, which has an accreditation board that selects and reviews content that appears in the 400 top management journals in the world. These journals can be found in the best management libraries at the best business schools. This service provides an excellent current awareness product for those interested in the management discipline and helps speed up retrieval of relevant content.


    Q

    Emerald Group Publishing Limited offers e-Content to journal and library gateways, courseware providers, and associations that wish to use it. Can you elaborate on how this partnership program works?

    A

    All partnership arrangements are customized and negotiated to suit the individual partners’ needs. This depends on what the customer wants and we can help with the selection of most appropriate content from across our portfolio of journals. This allows users to create content that targets specific markets. Our overall idea is to help add value to their service in the form of membership benefits, which will encourage new members and retain existing customers.


    Q

    What are your views on the relationship between STM and management publishers and libraries? Do you envisage any dramatic changes? How well do you think your group geared to adapt to these changes in user requirements.

    A

    I think there is a convergence between the activities of publishers and librarian customers, with both planning to increase the use of materials provided to patrons of libraries. So for example, I think usage statistics will not only be used for informing purchasing decisions, they will also be used them to benchmark performance amongst principal libraries in promoting resources to their users. Emerald Library Link is an online service that provides Librarians and information professionals with resources that can help them do their jobs more effectively, content is written by practicing librarians who work alongside our in-house editor. We provide articles and advice on marketing their library; managing resources and helping them develop professionally. We seek to help them get published and obtain information about conferences in their field. Another new initiative that we are excited about and have received a positive response to, is online remote access training using Webex software. We have trained quite a few librarians using this application. It is a flexible and convenient method of bringing customers up to speed with any changes and improvements to our fulltext database products.


    Q

    Looking forward, what are the major challenges and opportunities that Emerald Publishing Group is facing? What are your plans for the developing countries?

    A

    We are well placed to adapt to changes in the market. As our operations are still relatively small, we can be flexible enough to respond to such changes. Customer service and satisfaction continue to be key parts of our development agenda. We are trying to provide services that meet customer expectations and those expectations are getting higher. We expect some challenges from the corporate sector, which has a slightly different business model from the library model. While the library sector is all about content building or building a collection of knowledge, the corporate is a ‘one-off’ or transactional use. Another opportunity that we are looking at in the academic sector, is the alumni area. To help graduates of an institution by offering remote services for their alumni, we have a product called ManagementFirst.. We have launched a new product called Emerald Management Extra College, a more practical product that suits the vocational level of education,. This is similar to Emerald Management Extra, but it contains 40 specially selected titles in its content offering..

    In terms of our working with developing countries,

  • We have signed an agreement with INASP to offer our journals at a greatly reduced rate to some of the poorest countries in the world.
  • We have a policy of inclusivity. We actively encourage editorial contributions by researchers in developing countries.


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