Patron-driven acquisition in action in Sweden

A recent research project examines PDA in Swedish academic libraries, with the aim of creating a knowledge base that can be used by other libraries.

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Many changes required in libraries

At the start of the project, few libraries in Sweden had used PDA. The project team gathered together earlier experiences of PDA in Swedish libraries and compared the models of the five suppliers currently active in the Swedish market. They sent out questionnaires in Sweden, Norway and the UK, and conducted visits and interviews. The libraries then selected suppliers to test in more detail in their own libraries.

The team found that moving to PDA purchasing meant many changes for libraries. Most obviously, managers needed to keep an eye on budget and running costs. Acquisition librarians, cataloguers and system librarians were involved in new workflows. And as the report notes:

(e)ven the role of librarians changes; with PDA librarians are no longer buyers but profile creators, and the responsibility of purchasing is shared with the users. Dare we let go of this task? Should we?

There is a 'mind shift' involved in PDA since the cost of e-books becomes clear, and as a consequence:

(i)t is important to discuss the value of access, a discussion that ultimately is about the value of the library's support for research and education. The question is if ownership of e-books really has an intrinsic value, or whether it is enough to offer ‘just in time’ access and nothing more?

The report points out that PDA also raises questions about what a library collection really is – not just books that have been purchased, but all the books that the library offers access to, or that someone might want to buy.

What exactly is the library's goal with its collection - to meet the information needs that exist today, or the needs that may arise in ten years?

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