VLACRL Spring 2011: Patron-Driven Acquisitions panel

“Selectors are more fussy about the [ebook] platform than the students.” – Nancy Gibbs

Speakers from James Madison University, Duke University, and the College of William & Mary

James Madison University has done two trials of patron-driven acquisitions. The first one was mainly for print books that had been requested through interlibrary loan. If the book is a university press or new (past two years) imprint, they rush order it through an arrangement with the campus bookstore. The book arrives and is cataloged (actually, the book gets cataloged when it’s ordered, saving additional processing time) in about the same time it would take if it was coming through the ILL system, and most of these books ended up circulating frequently with renewals.

Their second trial was for ebooks through their book jobber, Coutts, and their MyiLibrary platform. They used the same parameters as their approval plan and set it up like most PDA ebook programs: drop the records in the catalog and after X number of “substantial uses” (i.e. not the table of contents, cover, etc.) the book is purchased using a deposit account fund. They excluded some publishers from the PDA process because they prefer to purchase the books on the publisher’s platform or have other arrangements (i.e. Gale or Wiley). If your library needs certain fields in the MARC record added, removed, or modified, they recommend that you have the vendor do that for you rather than touching every record locally, particularly given the volume of records involved.

The ebook PDA trial was initiated last calendar year, and they found that 75% of the ebooks purchased were used 5-19 times with an average of 14.77 per title. Surprisingly enough, they did not spend out their modest deposit account and were able to roll it over to this year. Already for 2011, they are seeing a 30% increase in purchases.

Duke University was one of the ARL libraries in the eBrary PDA pilot program. Out of the 90,000 titles offered, they culled the list down to 21,000 books published after 2006 with a $275 price per title limit. Even with that, they blew through the deposit account quickly. But, they found that the titles purchased were within the scope of what they would have collected anyway, so they added more funds to the deposit account. In the end, they purchased about 348 ebooks for $49,000 – mainly English-language titles from publishers like Wiley, Cambridge, and Oxford, and in areas like business and economics.

Other aspects of the Duke trial: They did not match up the 21,000 books with their approval plan, but used other criteria to select them. They negotiated 10 “clicks” to initiate a purchase (whatever the clicks mean). They were send approval slips for many of the titles that were purchased, but for whatever reason the selector did not choose them.

About 183 (over 50%) of the ebooks purchased were already owned in print by the library. One of their regrets is not capturing data about the time of day or day of week that the ebooks were accessed. It’s possible that the duplicates were accessed because the user was unable to access the print book for whatever reason (location, time of day, etc.). Also, two of the books purchased were already owned in electronic format in collections, but had not been cataloged individually.

Duke has also done a PDA program with interlibrary loan. The parameters are similar to JMU’s, and they are pushing OCLC to include preferred format in the ILLiad forms, as they would like to purchase ebooks if the user prefers that format.

They are also looking to do some topic-specific PDAs for new programs.

The College of William & Mary is a YBP customer for their print books, but they decided to go with Coutts’ MyiLibrary for their ebook PDA trial. This was initially the source of a great deal of frustration with de-duping records and preventing duplicate purchases. After several months and a duplication rate as much as 23%, they eventually determined that it was a time gap between when Coutts identified new titles for the PDA and when W&M sent them updates with what they had purchased in print or electronic from other sources.

In the end, they spent the $30,000 private Dean’s fund on 415 titles fairly evenly across the disciplines. About 45 titles had greater than 100 uses, and one title was used 1647 times (they think that was for a class). Despite that, they have not had to purchase a multi-user license for any title (neither has JMU), so either MyiLibrary is letting in multiple simultaneous users and not charging them, or it has not been an issue for a single user to access the titles at a time.

One thing to consider if you are looking to do patron-driven acquisitions with ebooks is the pricing. Ebooks are priced at the same rate as hardcover books, and multiple user licenses are usually 50% more. Plan to get less for the same money if you have been purchasing paperbacks.

There are pros and cons to publicizing the PDA trial during the process. In most cases, you want it to be seamless for the user, so there really isn’t much reason to tell them that they are initiating library purchases when they access the ebooks or request an interlibrary loan book. However, afterwards, it may be a good marketing tool to show how the library is working to remain relevant and spend funds on the specific needs of students/faculty.

COUNTER book reports are helpful for collection assessment, but they don’t quite match up with print use browse/circulation counts, so be careful when comparing them. Book Report 2 gives the number of successful section requests for each book, which can give you an idea of how much of the book was used, with a section being a chapter or other subdivision of a reference work.

Final thoughts: as we shift towards purchasing ebooks over print, we should be looking at revising and refining our workflow processes from selection to acquisition to assessment.

“Selectors are more fussy about the [ebook] platform than the students.” – Nancy Gibbs

VLACRL Spring 2011: Clay Shirky, Fantasy Football, and the Future of Library Collections

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need.

Speaker: Greg Raschke

Raschke started off with several assumptions about the future of library collections. These should not be a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention: The economics of our collections is not sustainable – the cost and spend has gone up over the years, but there is a ceiling to funding, so we need to lower the costs of the entire system. We’re at a tipping point where just in case no longer delivers at the point of need. We must change the way we collect, and it will be hard, but not impossible.

The old system of supply-side collection development assumes that we’re working with limited resources (i.e. print materials), so we have to buy everything just in case someone needs it 10 years down the road when the book/journal/whatever is out of print. As a result, we judge the quality of a collection by its size, rather than by its relevance to the users. All of this contributes to an inelastic demand for journals and speculative buying.

The new system of demand-driven collections views them as drivers of research and teaching. It’s not really a new concept so much as a new workflow. There’s less tolerance in investing in a low-use collection, so there is an increase in the importance of use data and modifying what we collect based on that use data. The risks of not evolving and failing to innovate can be seen in the fate of the newspapers, many of whom held onto the old systems for too long and are dying or becoming irrelevant as a result.

Demand-driven collection development can create a tension between the philosophy of librarians as custodians of scholarship and librarians as enablers of a digital environment for scholars. Some think that this type of collection development may result in lower unit costs, but the reality is that unless the traditions of tenure and promotion change, the costs of publishing scholarly works will not go down. One of the challenging/difficult aspects of demand-driven collection development is that we won’t be getting new funds to do it – we must free funds from other areas in order to invest in these new methods (i.e. local digital production and patron-driven acquisitions).

The rewards of adapting are well worth it. The more our constituencies use the library and its resources, the more vital we become. Look at your data, and then bet on the numbers. Put resources into enabling a digital environment for your scholars.

Demand-driven collection development is not just patron-driven acquisitions! It’s about becoming an advanced analyst and increasing the precision in collection development. For NCSU‘s journal review, they look at downloads, impact factors, publications by NCSU authors, publications that cite NCSU authors, and gather feedback from the community. These bibliometrics are processed through a variety of formulas to standardize them for comparison and to identify outliers.

For print resources, they pulled circulation and bibliographic information out of their ILS and dropped it into SAS to assess the use of these materials over time. It was eye-opening to see what subject areas saw circulation greater than one over 10 years from the year they were added to the collection and those that saw no circulations. As a result, they were able to identify funds that could go towards supporting other areas of the collection, and they modified the scopes of their approval profiles. [A stacked graph showing the use of their collection, such as print circulation, ejournals/books downloads, reserves, and ILL has been one of their most popular promotional tools.]

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need. This includes incorporating more than just our local collections (i.e. adding HathiTrust and other free resources to our catalog). Look to fund patron-driven acquisitions that occur both in the ebook purchasing models and through ILL requests. Integrate electronic profiling with your approval plans so that you are not just looking at purchasing print. Consider ebook packages to lower the unit costs, and use short-term loans for ebooks as an alternative to ILL. Get content to users in the mode they want to consume it. Do less speculative buying, and move money into new areas. It is imperative that libraries/librarians collaborate with each other in digital curation, digital collections, and collective bargaining for purchases.

There are challenges, of course. You will encounter the CAVE people. Data-driven and user-driven approaches can punish niche areas, disciplinary variation, and resources without data. The applications and devices we use to interact with digital content are highly personalized, which is a challenge for standardizing access.

I asked Raschke to explain how he evaluates resources that don’t have use data, and he says he’s more likely to stop buying them. For some resources, he can look at proxy logs and whether they are being cited by authors at his institution, but otherwise there isn’t enough data beyond user feedback.

ER&L: Head First into the PDA Pool

Speakers: Lisa Shen, Glenda Griffin, Erin Cassidy, and Tyler Manolovitz

They did a 16 week pilot program, and in that time, users selected about 640 titles, selecting them steadily throughout the program. The most expensive titles tended to be reference works and STM titles. The least expensive were humanities driven or public domain. STM and social sciences took up almost half of the purchases. Surprisingly, more literature titles were purchased proportionate to the number available.

They used the YBP content level to compare the patron purchases with the librarian selections. The users were still selecting academic content at a high level, although the librarian selections contained fewer popular titles. They found an overlap between the two in general and advanced academic levels, and interestingly, users selected much more supplementary material than the librarians.

Shortcomings: not all librarians participated in selecting from the thousands of titles, the duplicates were not removed (33% of the titles were already owned in print or from another ebook vendor), and the default catalog display ordered items by publication date (puts the ebook first).

In summary, PDA is a good supplement to but not replacement for traditional methods, and may be an indication of emerging research needs.

Suggestions: Set a title price cap. Consider excluding older materials, journals, duplicates, and titles from publishers with better bundle deals. Use modified triggers like 10 pages viewed, 10min of usage, or anything copied or printed.

ER&L 2010: Patron-driven Selection of eBooks – three perspectives on an emerging model of acquisitions

Speaker: Lee Hisle

They have the standard patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) model through Coutts’ MyiLibrary service. What’s slightly different is that they are also working on a pilot program with a three college consortia with a shared collection of PDA titles. After the second use of a book, they are charged 1.2-1.6% of the list price of the book for a 4-SU, perpetual access license.

Issues with ebooks: fair use is replaced by the license terms and software restrictions; ownership has been replaced by licenses, so if Coutts/MyiLibrary were to go away, they would have to renegotiate with the publishers; there is a need for an archiving solution for ebooks much like Portico for ejournals; ILL is not feasible for permissible; potential for exclusive distribution deals; device limitations (computer screens v. ebook readers).

Speaker: Ellen Safley

Her library has been using EBL on Demand. They are only buying 2008-current content within specific subjects/LC classes (history and technology). They purchase on the second view. Because they only purchase a small subset of what they could, the number of records they load fluxuates, but isn’t overwhelming.

After a book has been browsed for more than 10 minutes, the play-per-view purchase is initiated. After eight months, they found that more people used the book at the pay-per-view level than at the purchase level (i.e. more than once).

They’re also a pilot for an Ebrary program. They had to deposit $25,000 for the 6 month pilot, then select from over 100,000 titles. They found that the sciences used the books heavily, but there were also indications that the humanities were popular as well.

The difficulty with this program is an overlap between selector print order requests and PDA purchases. It’s caused a slight modification of their acquisitions flow.

Speaker: Nancy Gibbs

Her library had a pilot with Ebrary. They were cautious about jumping into this, but because it was coming from their approval plan vendor, it was easier to match it up. They culled the title list of 50,000 titles down to 21,408, loaded the records, and enabled them in SFX. But, they did not advertise it at all. They gave no indication of the purchase of a book on the user end.

Within 14 days of starting the project, they had spent all $25,000 of the pilot money. Of the 347 titles purchased, 179 of the purchased titles were also owned in print, but those print only had 420 circulations. The most popularly printed book is also owned in print and has had only two circulations. The purchases leaned more towards STM, political science, and business/economics, with some humanities.

The library tech services were a bit overwhelmed by the number of records in the load. The MARC records lacked OCLC numbers, which they would need in the future. They did not remove the records after the trial ended because of other more pressing needs, but that caused frustration with the users and they do not recommend it.

They were surprised by how quickly they went through the money. If they had advertised, she thinks they may have spent the money even faster. The biggest challenge they had was culling through the list, so in the future running the list through the approval plan might save some time. They need better match routines for the title loads, because they ended up buying five books they already have in electronic format from other vendors.

Ebrary needs to refine circulation models to narrow down subject areas. YBP needs to refine some BISAC subjects, as well. Publishers need to communicate better about when books will be made available in electronic format as well as print. The library needs to revise their funding models to handle this sort of purchasing process.

They added the records to their holdings on OCLC so that they would appear in Google Scholar search results. So, even though they couldn’t loan the books through ILL, there is value in adding the holdings.

They attempted to make sure that the books in the list were not textbooks, but there could have been some, and professors might have used some of the books as supplementary course readings.

One area of concern is the potential of compromised accounts that may result in ebook pirates blowing through funds very quickly. One of the vendors in the room assured us they have safety valves for that in order to protect the publisher content. This has happened, and the vendor reset the download number to remove the fraudulent downloads from the library’s account.