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 (http://ebass25.rhul.ac.uk/). 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 (http://ebass25.rhul.ac.uk/2012/12/21/making-sense-of-e-book-pda-options/), 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.