Patron driven acquisition

Is patron driven acquisition (PDA) a tool for efficient information management?

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Collection management is core business for information institutions, although the use of librarian-selected material can be low. Often the expectations of patrons mostly can differ from the acquisition policy of libraries. The traditional acquired resources for scholarly work often may not match the real-life information need.

Cost effectiveness, wider availability of information sources and increased digital resources offer an opportunity for the patron-driven acquisition model. This concept moves from books and journals to e-books, article databases, online information portals and data clouds.

The fear of overspending the information budget calls for a mechanism of filters and fiscal boundaries. The ultimate goal is to get more satisfied patrons with influence, with a decreased information budget and staff.

A variety of tools

Speaking at Internet Librarian International 2014, Peter Nieuwenhuizen of the Dutch governmental organisation Rijkswaterstaat, part of the Ministry of Infrastructure and The Environment, showed how a governmental organisation is able to match the needs of the patrons with a variety of purchase models. These include:

  • pay-per-view for fulltext databases
  • a tailormade webshop for book acquisitions by the patrons themselves
  • a lump sum model for Dutch standards
  • unlimited access to digital academic journals
  • enhanced use of content integration tools like EDS (Ebsco) and Legal Intelligence
  • cooperating with commercial publishers in developing portals on IP-basis

All of these are applied to meet the specific needs of the patrons.  By using the varied spectrum of tools, the 9000 employees of the organisation get more value for money and more efficient information management.

Other experiences

Also at the conference Ying Zhang from the University of Central Florida showed the results of her investigations into e-book acquisitions and the packages offered by publishers. Monitoring the usage showed only a limited use of some titles and her findings prove that acquisition should be based on evidence and on usage statistics.

Helle Lauridsen (ProQuest) and Vibeke Christensen from the Aarhus University Library (Denmark), talked about e-book purchasing in Denmark. The Nordic problem is that language can limit choices.  They set up discussions with publishers to get more e-books available for their patrons.  This type of cooperation with other Swedish partners can broaden the range of resources available.


Peter Nieuwenhuizen is Senior Consultant, Information Management at Rijkswaterstaat in the Netherlands.