Ebooks, print and choice in libraries

The complexity of managing book collections in multiple formats is addressed in a new white paper by ProQuest.

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Some aspects of content acquisition remain the same - irrespective of format. These include the need for depth and breadth in collection development and ongoing budget constraints.

Collection development strategies will always be closely aligned to the overall strategy of the library and the institution.

For some institutions, this will mean reclaiming physical space by making a broad e-book preference (recent research suggests 39% of academic institutions around the world are pursuing an ‘e-preferred’ purchasing strategy). Other libraries will focus on increasing the availability of high usage titles by offering a choice of e- and print formats.

Librarians have spent years developing the processes involved in acquiring and managing print collections.  New e-formats present specific challenges - and opportunities – for librarians

Potential obstacles

  • Usability issues (e.g. restrictions on printing; restrictions on copying and pasting)
  • Rigid licensing (e.g. single user licences)
  • Restrictive models (e.g. short term loan charges)

Potential opportunities

  • Improved user experiences
  • Deeper user insight (publishers/aggregators can provide usable data that can help librarians understand how their content is being used)
  • Affordability and improved access

Collaboration with aggregators

The need to manage and combine multiple formats adds to the complexity of collection development and management.  In this White Paper, ProQuest set out how libraries and content aggregators can work together to find the best way to:

  • Curate relevant collections for users that have a minimum of frustrating restrictions
  • Simplify acquisition, management and discovery
  • Connecting users to relevant content; connecting librarians with the user data they need to help them understand usage and demonstrate value.

The White Paper can be found here.