Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

What Cost and Usage Data Reveals about E-Book Acquisitions: Ramifications for Collection Development

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

What Cost and Usage Data Reveals about E-Book Acquisitions: Ramifications for Collection Development

Article excerpt

The Smathers Libraries has a primary mission to support the wide-ranging research and instructional activities at the University of Florida (UF), a large land-grant university with an annual enrollment of more than 49,000 and employing more than 3,000 faculty. (1) The university also has more than one hundred undergraduate and two hundred graduate degree programs based in sixteen colleges that entail dozens of subject disciplines. (2) With such a large scope of departments and degree programs to support across the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and medical-health related fields, the Smathers Libraries are challenged to meet the needs of this vast and diversified clientele. Moreover, the state is emphasizing distance-learning initiatives, with the libraries expected to develop and boost online resources to serve these new constituents.

Within this landscape, a team of librarians from the Smathers Libraries (two from the acquisitions department, one from the Marston Science Library, and one from the Health Science Center Libraries) began a project to assess the number, cost, and use of e-books acquired for perpetual ownership by the libraries. The importance of determining the cost and usage of e-books purchased to support multiple subject disciplines is paramount as the Smathers Libraries face restrictive annual materials funding. A primary goal of the project was that the Libraries might apply the findings to improve the method of allocating e-book budgets.

The team focused on three purchase methods: (1) e-books acquired through large publisher packages; (2) e-books acquired through firm ordering, which includes selection of e-books from the primary approval/slip plan; and (3) e-books acquired through patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) plans. The team was especially interested in determining the cost effectiveness of purchases in different disciplines, accomplished by sorting the e-books using Library of Congress Classification (LCC) across broad subject areas.

The team posed three questions to serve as the project's guiding objectives:

1. How does cost-use of e-books purchased in packages, selected using firm orders, and acquired by PDA compare with regard to the methods of acquisitions?

2. How does the cost-use of e-books as acquired using the three main acquisitions methods compare when sorted by three broad subject areas--humanities and social sciences (HSS); science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); and medicine (MED), which includes related health and physiology disciplines?

3. How will this study of cost-use analysis of e-books at UF affect collection development, particularly future e-book initiatives and budget allocation?

Literature Review

A plethora of research on e-book acquisition methods, usage studies, and collection management has been published. This review of the literature highlights research that the authors deem most relevant to the analyses described in this paper. PDA, also known as demand-driven acquisitions (DDA), is an increasingly popular method for acquiring e-books in academic libraries. For many college and library administrators battling stringent materials budgets, PDAs are becoming mainstays for e-book collection building. Several recent articles and books have been published on the PDA/DDA model. Herrera shares experiences of developing and running a PDA at the University of Mississippi. (3) Nixon, Freeman, and Ward's Patron-Driven Acquisitions: Current Successes and Future Directions and Swords' Patron-Driven Acquisitions: History and Best Practices were published in 2011 and contain chapters examining the historical, current, and future permutations of the PDA model. (4) Shepherd and Langston share the planning, processes, implications, and future of shared, consortial PDA plans at the California State University system. (5) Shepherd and Langston's finding that "in general, the number of books purchased in each subject was proportional to the number of books represented by that subject in the entire collection" should inform librarians establishing PDA profiles and would most likely also apply to other parameters of the profile. …

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