May 16, 2022

New Issue Brief From Ithaka: “Meeting Researchers Where They Start: Streamlining Access to Scholarly Resources”

Ithaka S+R has posted a new issue brief (15 pages; PDF) by Roger Schonfeld that will very likely be of interest to many of you.


Researchers today have access to incredible amounts of digital content as well as to a suite of tools to aid in their discovery of these academic resources. Yet, as Roger Schonfeld describes in our most recent issue brief, “the researcher’s discovery-to-access workflow is much more difficult than it should be.”

“Instead of the rich and seamless digital library for scholarship that they need,” Schonfeld argues, “researchers today encounter archipelagos of content bridged by infrastructure that is insufficient and often outdated.” Outlining the specific ways in which libraries and publishers are falling short of user expectations, Schonfeld also offers a series of steps we could take to provide researchers with the experience they have grown to expect.

A Few Thoughts by Gary Price, infoDOCKET Founder/Editor

1. I agree on much of what Schonfeld points out including his comments on the campus not being a work location.

2. I  did a quick scan of the document and also searched the entire doc and was surprised not to find a few words (or forms of them) that I thought would have been used at some point in the report.

A. Awareness (as in User Awareness)
B. Marketing or Market
C. Promote or Promotion

We can improve current search and access systems and/or build new ones to better meet the needs of users. However, without an underlying awareness of these resources (they’re availability, what they do, how they work at a basic level, etc.) BY THE PEOPLE or GROUPS who might want to use them/find them useful change is nearly impossible. As I recently pointed out, building and offering something doesn’t mean, even if it’s as good as can be, it will get used.

By the way, this doesn’t mean big promotional campaigns, advertising budgets, etc. are what’s needed. Not even close.

One company was able to build their product and service along with awareness of it by getting to the right people with a message tailored to them. They also did a lot of “hand holding” (reinforcement) of key people to make sure the message was current, clear, and understandable. This also involved a lot of listening and monitoring.

Can you name the company? Yes, it’s Google. They did all they could to focus on word-of-mouth and peer-to-peer marketing. When it works as it did for Google, it works well. (-:

3. Another issue that the library community (including vendors) as a whole must come to realize is that while most library’s don’t have a profit motive and responsibilities like a public or private businesses does they have competition not for dollars but for MINDSHARE of current users and potential users who are bombarded with reports about other services (Google, Wikipedia, etc.).

4. One example I see, hear, or read about regularly in the academic community are various units of an institution purchasing multiple subscriptions to the same material (also delivered electronically) the library already provides access to.

I also hear about this in the K-12 and academic library world where some schools will purchase access to databases the public library already purchases and makes available to the entire community.

5. The library community must work harder in getting our message out about what we do, offer, etc. If we don’t do it no one else will. The library community and our vendors can often provide the user with something everyone wants more of but their is only a limited supply of each day, time.

Of course we do much more but for many time and the ability to have more of it to do as you see fit I believe is easier for everyone to understand (at all age levels) vs. other things we do. Said another way, you first have to get them in the door, on the phone, etc. and starting with time vs. something like currency and credibility of info will resonate more quickly. Once you’ve established saving time as something you can help with THEN you’re ready to bring it all of the other things libraries and librarians are capable of.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.