eBook PDA at Eastern Michigan University
by Joe Badics (Acquisitions Librarian, Bruce T. Halle Library, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197; Phone: 734-487-0020 x.2053)
Column Editor: Michelle Flinchbaugh (Acquisitions Librarian, Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Cir., Baltimore, MD 21250; Phone: 410-455-6754; Fax: 410-455-1598) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the hot topics at recent conferences, including the 2010 Charleston Conference, has been Patron-Driven Acquisitions, or “PDA.” It was the topic of two publications in 2011: Patron-Driven Acquisitions: History and Best Practices, edited by David A. Swords, and Patron-Driven Acquisitions: Current Successes and Future Directions, edited by Judith M. Nixon, Robert S. Freeman, and Suzanne M. Ward.
As the Nixon set points out, “PDA” has already been occurring. Virtually all libraries have used patron input to build their collections; and many libraries, including ours, have been purchasing interlibrary loan requests rather than borrowing when appropriate to the collection. In our case we have been purchasing paper copies and rush order and process them. NetLibrary offered the “PDA” of eBooks many years ago.
Why the sudden attention to patron-driven acquisitions (again)? Tighter (if not decreasing) acquisition budgets, the cost of storing volumes, declining print circulation, pressure to repurpose library space, and continuous expansion and embracing of electronic resources by the public are just some of the reasons libraries are migrating to eBooks. The pendulum has been swinging away from just-in-case collection development to favor just-in-time purchasing.
eBooks are not new to our library. We have participated in Michigan state-wide purchases of NetLibrary eBook packages and purchased selected Springer eBook backfiles. Our computer science selector has been managing a small subset of computer books in “Safari.” Our Department of Information Technology has graciously been paying for campus access to “Books 24×7,” for which we have added a record and link for each title in our catalog. With the exception of “Safari,” our purchases have been for sets of books.
In 2011 we expanded our selection options in YBP’s Gobi book ordering system to allow our selectors to purchase individual electronic books instead of paper format when we signed an agreement with ebrary. Since we already had a contract with NetLibrary for earlier purchases, selectors could also opt for NetLibrary eBooks when available (now called EBSCOhost). Several selectors immediately embraced electronic over print in the expected subjects of business, science, and computer science. Our business collection has especially migrated to electronic as our College of Business is located downtown and not on the main campus where the library is. The rest of selectors have chosen electronic over print in their areas sporadically to never.
After hearing and reading about the various “PDA” eBook selection programs, we decided to launch a pilot project by expanding our existing pacts with YBP and ebrary. ebrary’s short-term loan (STL) system allows our patron to use the eBook for free until a charge is triggered by 1) using the resource for more than ten minutes, 2) viewing ten or more pages (not counting table-of-contents or indices), or 3) copying pages. Once triggered, a STL generally costs 10-15% of the eBook price and allows unfettered access to the book for 24 hours without generating another STL. We decided to pay for three STLs with the fourth event generating a purchase.
Our current approval/slip plan with YBP was reviewed. The profile was retained with some exceptions: for instance we excluded publishers that do not allow any short-term loans (one event automatically triggers a purchase). We also excluded textbooks, cookbooks, conference proceedings, dictionaries, and books classified by YBP at a professional level. We also capped the price for an eBook at $200.
We decided to add records for all ebrary eBooks that matched our profile from 2010 to date (2009 and older was deemed already out of date for many subjects). The ISBNs from our current catalog were matched against the ebrary database. Only eBooks that we did not already own in print or electronic were added to our catalog.
The initial ebrary “PDA” catalog records were reviewed by our cataloging librarian. Our systems librarian arranged for the backfile of 2010 to-date eBook records to be added to the catalog as well as for weekly download of new “PDA” records. It was decided to add the phrase, “DDA Title,” in a 590 note: the librarians and staff can identify the ebrary titles from other eBooks in our catalog. (YBP calls their system “demand-drive acquisitions” hence the “DDA”).
We created a deposit account with YBP to pay for the orders for the pilot instead of penalizing any subject fund; thus, assuring those selectors who have refused to select any eBooks in their subjects.
Due to extenuating circumstances (ahem: a flood), we finally got the “PDA” new and backfiles of older records started in the beginning of May 2012. We did a silent rollout: we did not announce to the public that there were approximately 10,000 new eBooks available.
During the first three months (May-July 2012) 77 books generated STLs and five received enough STLs to be ultimately purchased. Of the five, only one was a computer manual while the others were surprising: Russian Origins of the First World War; Place, Writing, and Voice in Oral History; New Science of Religion: Exploring Spirituality from the Outside In and Bottom Up; and Metaphor and the Historical Evolution of Conceptual Mapping. The STLs covered all subjects across the board, including humanities (e.g., religion, history, language arts, political science, and literary criticism), science, and social science (psychology). The cost was $1300.
ebrary offers good statistics at their Website. It was interesting to see how many and what books were viewed, how many pages, and how many user sessions. This again shows that our patrons were making use of the electronic content.
There are some complications. We discovered that the links to the contents may not work. The invoices for STLs are in paper, so the Acquisitions staff will have to design procedures to accommodate them. The Acquisitions staff will also need to account for any titles purchased outside the ebrary/YBP system (standing orders, Amazon, etc.) to make sure duplicates are not received.
As more libraries experiment with PDA, hopefully more will publish about their experiences. The April 17, 2012 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education has an article called “Is psychology about to come undone?” All of the studies published in the 2008 issues of three psychology journals (Psychological Science; Journal of Personality and Social Science: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition) will be reproduced to check the validity. If psychologists can check the results of their peers, in that spirit, we hope other libraries will consider comparing their PDA results. This version of “PDA” is still a pilot for us, but the initial results are intriguing.
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.