One of the library’s key performance metrics is cost per use, calculated for electronic journals, books, and databases. We use this metric when deciding what to renew, as it helps us evaluate the value a particular subscription delivers. I’d like to share some of this data with you, our users, so you can see what we deliver for the budget dollars we receive. The chart below summarizes cost per use data for 2012 (click to enlarge):
To put these numbers in perspective:
The average cost per article if purchased from publishers runs about $30-80. With an average cost per use of $2.06, the library’s subscriptions deliver great value for City of Hope.
The average biomedical book costs anywhere from $50-200. Individual chapters, if purchased on a pay-per-download basis, average $30-80, just like articles. It’s hard to draw a direct comparison between the purchase price of a book and the cost of each use, but a cost per use of $7.91 seems quite reasonable.
It’s even harder to provide a similar comparison for databases, since they typically aren’t available on the open market for individuals. Pay-as-you-go rates for many databases, when that type of access is available, is typically much higher than our cost per use.
We consider other characteristics of a subscription in addition to cost per use (e.g. Is it a core title for a particular department?), but we rely on cost per use as a key indicator of the value of each subscription or package.