Shared attitudes to eBook Acquisition

The EBASS25 project was funded by JISC to identify feasible models and practical guidelines for acquisition of e-books as a shared service, with a view to maximizing the benefits for M25 libraries ( Whilst Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) is a major interest, this work also takes a holistic and longer term view of e–Book acquisition options.

Following a workshop in November attended by over 20 M25 institutions (, the project conducted an institutional survey (one response per M25 member) to assess opinions, local commitments and opportunities for consortial action. A total of 30 institutional responses (60% of M25 members) were received to questions covering collection focus, blockages, models, pros & cons of consortia, current suppliers, and open access services.  The survey is available for download.

The priority motivations in offering user e-book choice were:

  • Availability of key titles (e.g. Course Reserve) – 100%
  • Transformation – Encourage user movement to e-access – 80%
  • Enhancement – Supplementing the print collection – 73%

Supporting popular choice in isolation and opening up a long tail of titles were regarded as significantly lower priorities.

The most significant blockages preventing e-books from fulfilling their potential were identified as:

  • Business models offered by publishers – 87%
  • Availability of titles and especially text books – 73%

Issues of access devices and formats were regarded as much less significant in academic institutions.

Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) was approved by a significant majority:

  • It was seen as a user-centred approach that should be applied to more aspects of the library collection – 80%
  • It was not to be dismissed as a temporary supplier driven tactic – 73%

Best value in e-book acquisition was potentially to be delivered by a range of models that contribute to collection development as well as satisfying immediate demand:

  • Respondents highly valued library driven purchase models informed by usage statistics over a rental period – 90%
  • They also recognized value in models involving the professional expertise of librarians, lecturers, etc – 73%
  • They challenged the value of access based on either rental / subscription or pay-per-use models NOT leading to ownership – 67%

See the introductory video and the PDA Models report for more information about the e-book acquisition options referenced here.

A consortium approach to e-book acquisition was expected to deliver value from:

  • Using scale to achieve best price – 97%
  • Making a bigger collection accessible – 97%
  • Reducing the burden of procurement and administration – 80%

In addition every respondent recognized value in sharing expertise.

Most significant concerns about working in a consortium to acquire e-books were:

  • Being driven by others’ subject interests that are not relevant – 80%
  • Being driven by demand from larger institutions – 70%

Complexity and inflexibility of arrangements was not such a major concern.

Further breakdown of responses is provided in the analysis of survey results.