EBSCO has announced that it is replacing EBSCO Online, its existing electronic journals service that was first released in January 1999, with a new offering called EBSCOhost Electronic Journals Service (EJS). The release of the new gateway service addresses two important issues for EBSCO: brand confusion and additional revenue possibilities. In addition, it provides the company's library customers with many new features and administrative tools. EJS provides a clearer and more descriptive brand name and serves to unite the journals service under the EBSCOhost banner, which has been EBSCO's platform for accessing databases.
The most significant change is that EBSCO will charge for several features that some current customers have had for free in EBSCO Online. EJS will offer a Basic and an Enhanced version. The Basic service will be provided to EBSCO Subscription Services customers at no additional charge and will allow the searching of the electronic journals to which the library subscribes through EBSCO. Libraries that want to access journals not ordered through EBSCO can buy the Enhanced version, which allows them to consolidate journal titles purchased through other services.
The fee-based Enhanced service provides an end-user portal to more than 8,000 e-journals (all with durable URLs), comprehensive linking support to more than 10,000 e-journals, pay-per-view article purchasing, alerting services, and more. EJS Enhanced will also offer a suite of administrative tools that are designed to help librarians manage electronic content easily and efficiently.
"We have spent a great deal of time talking with customers to learn exactly what they need in an electronic journals service," said F. Dixon Brooke Jr., vice president and division general manager of EBSCO Subscription Services. "We found that they want simplified access to full-text articles for their patrons and a serious tool to help them manage their electronic journals. There is a great need for help in organizing, accessing, authenticating, and registering their electronic journals, and we are confident that the suite of e-journals services offered in our Enhanced service will meet these needs."
EJS offers librarians control of a library's linking options through CustomLinks. They can choose which links appear, where they appear, and when (based on local holdings, full-text availability, etc.). Links can point to a number of targets, including an OPAC, ILL, or document delivery service, or to a local linking server (e.g., SFX). The service also supports linking to full text that's available from other sources, such as CrossRef member publishers. The durable URL feature is a plus—no URL maintenance is required by the library.
While the old EBSCO Online offered pay-per-view article purchasing by credit card, the new EJS Enhanced provides new payment options. A library can set up organizational pay-per-view invoicing, through which it can choose to buy up to a certain dollar limit on behalf of certain user groups (for example, $1,000 per month for faculty users). The feature can be enabled or disabled by the system administrator.
Customers should be pleased to see the number and range of administrative tools that are available in EJS Enhanced. Many of these tools should simplify the management of a library's e-resources and decrease staff time spent on administrative tasks. Administrators can now receive alerts to notify them of changes, such as the addition of new titles. A Registration Tracker tool helps track registrations at e-journal Web sites that do their own authentication. A Journal List Manager lets administrators download journal lists, modify them (with local holdings notes or other information) using a preferred application (Excel, etc.), and then upload them back to EJS.
End-users will also benefit from some new features. Search results can now be grouped into tabbed lists based on a user's right to access titles, so he or she doesn't have to wade through results to determine which are available in full text. In addition to table of contents alerts, researchers can now set up SDI alerts that will notify them when new articles on specific subjects are published.
Pricing for the EJS Enhanced service is structured in three tiers based on library size. The cost is $500 per year for a library with a total serials budget under $100,000; $1,000 per year for a serials budget of $100,000 to $1 million; and $1,500 per year for a serials budget of over $1 million. Gary Coker, director of digital library services for EBSCO, said that discussions with existing customers indicated that libraries that had put in the effort to list all their journals in EBSCO Online were willing to pay for the administrative enhancements and linking support in EJS. The new features are designed to save staff time and should make up for the additional cost. "They [our customers] have no problems with the new fees," he said.
Coker said that there were also some add-on fees to accommodate expanded access to works not obtained through EBSCO. Libraries will pay $250 per year to access any journal titles a library owns that could not be ordered through EBSCO (such as those from Elsevier). A flat fee of $500 per year is charged to cover publications that could have been ordered through EBSCO but were instead ordered through a consortium or as part of a publisher package. Any titles ordered directly from a publisher or from another subscription agency will cost a library $15 per title per year to include in EJS Enhanced. Coker says the fees are necessary to cover EBSCO's costs for managing the titles, and if a customer agrees to move titles to EBSCO upon renewal, the fees would be waived. Obviously, the message here is "Use EBSCO for your subscription agency."
Libraries can also choose to purchase custom branding for the service for $500 a year. They can add their logo and custom text and can rename the site as a library service. Later in the year, EBSCO will also offer enhanced usage reporting as an add-on feature for an additional fee.
Library administrators can begin to work with the new service today; EBSCO Online will be officially replaced on July 15. All 6,000 current customers will be switched to EJS Enhanced for a free 6-month trial period, after which they will choose their preferred version.
Another new product that EBSCO will release in July is the TOC Premier database. Available on an annual subscription basis ($4,500 per year, with a $500 discount for EJS Enhanced customers), this offering delivers tables of contents for approximately 25,000 titles that are produced by the leading popular and academic publishers, including those of all e-journals provided through EJS Enhanced.