KSUL: An Evaluation of Patron-Driven Acquisitions for Ebooks

Article excerpt


In 2012, Kent State University Libraries (KSUL) conducted a pilot project for a patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) ebook purchasing model. Using this model, the library was able to provide its users with a selective pool of discovery records that closely matched the specifixations of the library's print approval plan. This article reports the assessment of the PDA model as compared to that of the print books approval model and examines the role of the library catalog as a tool for ebook discovery and access.

PDA as a New Acquisition Model for Ebooks

PDA, also known as demand-driven acquisitions (DDA), is a popular new model for ebook acquisition. It refers to the automated purchasing of ebooks based on patron use; it's a seamless selection process that augments traditional library approval purchases. PDA is widely used by academic libraries. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) recognized patron-driven ebook acquisition as one of the 2012 Top Ten trends in academic libraries.


As ebooks continue to become a more prominent format in academic library collections, a large body of professional literature is emerging that informs and guides librarians about various ebook acquisition models such as PDA. Common topics include cataloging and metadata, promotion, user experience, and general use (Blummer and Kenton, 2012; McLure and Hoseth, 2012). Most studies point to the value of the streamlined service aspect of PDA, and usage statistics for PDA-acquired materials tend to be higher than usage of those selected by conventional means. A University of Iowa study that compared PDA ebook use with print circulation provided a small dataset with which to compare use of the two formats (Fischer, Wright, Clatanoff, et al., 2012). That study's comparison of total circulation of print titles with the user sessions for the same ebook titles demonstrated a tenfold increase in use for the electronic equivalents. Users were showing a preference for electronic format. Although studies such as these are useful, there has been a lack of effort toward evaluation of how well the PDA model works and whether or not PDA is cost-effective as an acquisition model. Furthermore, few studies focus on print versus ebook use comparisons or user interaction with PDA records within library catalogs.

PDA Pilot Project at KSUL

In January 2012, KSUL conducted a 6-month pilot project for a PDA ebook purchasing model that used the combined services of their approval plan jobber, YBP Library Services (YBP), and ebook aggregator, ebrary. With this model, the library was able to provide its users with a selective pool of discovery records that closely matched the specifications of the library's print approval plan. This method allowed the library to provide access to a predetermined set of ebooks to authorized KSUL users. Patrons unknowingly initiated the library purchase of these ebooks based on certain trigger events through typical discovery and use via the library catalog or directly via authenticated access in the ebrary interface. The major advantage of this ebook acquisition model is that it can provide users with immediate electronic access to a large quantity of content while giving the library the assurance that funds are being expended for content that is actually being used.

To find out how this model works in practice, librarians and researchers from KSUL, Kent State University's School of Library and Information Science, and the Universitat de Barcelona (1) (University of Barcelona) met to investigate various aspects of ebook acquisition and use. The team decided to focus on the following areas for the evaluation:

* How do PDA ebook acquisitions serve the needs of library users? …


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