Rapid growth of online searching is making tremendous impacts on libraries. They, irrespective of the type, have to seriously consider the costs involved in both online and manual searching and the issues resulted from charging fees for online searching.
This paper discusses the result of the survey conducted in 1983, in an attempt to elucidate problems concerning costs and online service fees at 45 university and 78 special libraries, some of which are as follows. 1) What cost items do the libraries consider important? 2) Which type of services, i.e. without charge or fee-based, do they provide? 3) How do they set fees for fee-based services? 4) How much time do they spend to check search requests, do searches, and examine search results, respectively? 5) How do they predict online search costs in the future?
In terms of online searching, computer connect fees, telecommunication line charges, and off-line print charges are considered as very important cost items, while in manual searching subscription fees to abstracting & indexing journals, personnel costs directly traced to searching, and copying costs are considered so.
Libraries with fee-based services amount to 80 (6590), 41 of which are university libraries. On the other hand, 39 special libraries provide free online services. Only 4 university libraries do the same kind of services.
Online search fees charged by 62 libraries are set based on the connect hours, communication line use, and volume of off-line prints. In addition to the mentioned fees 16 organizations charge a start-up fee which is consisted of overhead, personnel, and other support costs. 8 libraries levy nominal fixed fees and other 5 charge only a part of costs directly traced to online searches.
Fee-based service organizations usually spend more time for preparing searches than free service ones while there are no significant differences in processing time for doing searches and examining search results between the two.
In terms of online costs in the future, 60 organizations predict that the cost will go up. 30 libraries feel it will go down, and 25 predict it will remain substantially unchanged.
© 1984 三田図書館・情報学会© 1984 Mita Society for Library and Information Science
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