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E-Books, Users, and Library Workflows

Another session in the e-book track dealt with library workflows.  It was a discussion among the 3 panelists shown below.

(L-R) Lisa Carlucci Thomas, Matt Naumann, Leslie Lees

Here are the questions the panel discussed:

Leslie Lees, VP, Content Development, ebrary, introduced the discussion.  As e-books become more accepted, how can they be integrated into library workflows? What are the 3 main drivers of demand-driven acquisition? Physical library collections used to guarantee quality and deliver access to quality books, but now users are increasingly becoming more self-serving and going to Google to find books. This creates challenges to libraries: include more content and deliver access to it and at the same time, target their purchases to deliver better value to users. It is well known that a lot of purchased content is never used.

Here is an edited transcript of the discussion:

Lisa Carlucci Thomas, Digital Services Librarian, Southern CT State University:  The main challenge to the library is managing e-books through their life cycle. Many libraries try to align their e-book purchases with print purchases. This does not fit together and raises confusion. It is hard to determine best choice of an e-book or print book and not duplicate.

Matt Naumann, Baker & Taylor, YBP Library: Demand-driven access is due to library budget pressures (even more today than in last few years) and usage statistics showing that many books are never used. As e-books evolve, it is important to consider that they do not have to be in the collection because they are immediately available. Being accessible does not mean physically in the collection.

Lisa: In a demand-driven environment, you have a mechanism to trigger the purchase or loan. The user is getting the book, but the librarian gets notification that somebody wants that item.

Matt: Things become discoverable and accessible which can lead to a purchase.

Leslie: Is demand-driven access universally positive for libraries? ebrary did a pilot that showed that libraries spend their whole budget allocation very quickly if they have demand-driven acquisition.

Lisa: If we bought an e-book, were long term preservation arrangements in place? This is a significant concern for librarians expecting perpetual access.

Matt: YBP’s tools were developed for print and standing order plans, etc. We have been able to modify profiles for demand-driven access. This gives librarians control of the process. The “consideration pool” lists appropriate material for an institution.

Leslie: We have been successful convincing publishers that this is a good way to go but it has been an uphill struggle. Any change in predictability of their business has caused a lot of uneasiness with publishers.

Lisa: We rely on publsihers to give us good analytics of what is selling and why?

Matt: We are a conduit back to publishers to tell them what is going on in the market. We are starting to develop the same analytics for e-books.

Leslie: Many publishers do not have the faintest idea who buys their books. The analytics will be helpful for libraries and will connect publishers to the mktplace. We need to develop tools to connect all parts of the industry.

Lisa: Are e-books a worthwhile investment for publishers?

Leslie: Publishers have many lessons to learn; analytic data will help them overcome their concerns and will give them pricing info so that libs will buy their books. The big fear is in demand-driven access, there won’t be any demand for their books! This can only be learned from experience. Books are used when they are discoverable. Without proper tools to serve the researchers, books will not be used.

Matt: Some publishers have opted out of demand-driven access plans because they fear what it will do to the sales. But if they are not in the pool, their books will not be found or purchased.

Lisa: Libraries no more need to be the middleman for users. In a mobile environment, users need direct access to the books. More communication with publishers about what books need to be available and conversations about DRM are needed. Breaking down barriers of fear and uncertainty with publishers is especially important today.

Matt: We are in a period of great transition as we learn how to deal with these new products. We will not ship books around like we used to but will move toward being management companies helping manage processes for libraries. Suddenly we have the end users in the picture, so there is much more involved to learn what users really want.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today,
and
Internet Librarian 2011 Blog Coordinator

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