by the Taskforce on Methodology for Access/Holdings Economic Modelling


This is the final report of a project to develop an economic decision-making tool for selecting between available means of information provision. The work was successfully completed at a cost of Sixteen thousand four hundred pounds.


The MA/HEM Taskforce:

Christine Abbott, Head of Management Services, Aston University Library & Information Services [now, Assistant Director, Planning & Administration, University of Birmingham (Taskforce Secretary )
David Baker, Librarian, University of East Anglia (Taskforce Chair )
Mike Gollop, Senior Assistant Librarian, The Brotherton Library, Leeds University
Philip Payne, Library Services Manager, Leeds Metropolitan University
Bruce Royan, Director of Information Services, Stirling University (Project Head and ACISS Representative)

was formed at a meeting at the University of Aston on 2 February 1995, and formally adopted as a Taskforce of the newly-created SCONUL Advisory Committee on Information on Information Systems and Services at a meeting at the British Library on 2 February 1995. The Taskforce’s remit is to act as a focus for the development of economic models of information delivery. It aims to initiate and encourage specific actions to provide the library community with aids to decision-making in this area.

A proposal for the first such decision-making tool was drawn up, and the final version was approved by SCONUL Executive at its meeting of 13 June 1995 for submission on 15 June to the Electronic Libraries Programme as a Supporting Study.

An offer of award was made on 28 July 1995, and 11 consultancy companies were then invited to propose for the development work. Tenders were received from 5 consultancies on 21 August ‘95, and were marked by a 4-person panel. The Information Partnership received by far the highest aggregate score from the panellists, and a letter of acceptance was issued on 11 September.


The project was formally initiated under the PRINCE methodology on 10 October 1995. At that meeting it was agreed to define the boundaries of the model to be produced, to include acquisition decision-making but not decisions on retention of existing serials back-runs.

A Mark 1 version of the spreadsheet model was reviewed on 23 November 1995, and after beta testing, a fully revised, tested and documented model went into production on 5 February 1996.


The decision was made by SCONUL to pay for and distribute a copy of the package to all of its members, and the package was demonstrated at workshops at the SCONUL conference on 11 and 12 April.

A Briefing meeting was held at Birkbeck College on 27 June ‘96 which was attended by 38 people. Three more detailed Workshops were held at Leeds Metropolitan University (26 June), Glasgow University (17 July) and Aston University (25 July), which gave very detailed training to 23 delegates.

A mailbase list lis-mayhem was set up for news and discussion about the package, and an article on it was published as:

Bruce Royan & Steve Brown "A decision support tool for information acquisition: MA/HEM", Vine, 103,1996


An eMail survey of take-up of the package has shown that

Further more detailed evaluation, in conjunction with the FIDDO project, is under discussion and may be the subject of a further proposal.

The MA/HEM Taskforce remains in existence at the completion of this initial project. It will continue disseminating information about the existing product and gathering information about its further development, together with a parallel modelling system for stock withdrawals.

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