Taking the temperature on e-book purchases in Denmark

Libraries are exploring new acquisition models to improve cost-effectiveness and to better meet the needs of patrons.

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For the past 10 to 15 years libraries have moved their serials budget from single title, print purchases to big deal/ multi title electronic purchase with the result that most libraries now spend more than 80% of their serials budget on electronic content and have access to over 10 times as many titles as before.

However, monograph acquisition seems to be moving slower and despite a growing number of titles available the actual spend still seems to be in favour of print purchases (although some libraries have passed 50/50 print/ e expenditure for monographs).

The Danish E-book Barometer, an annual survey covering all large Academic libraries in Denmark and some of the smaller ones, has been been published since 2011.  It includes quantitative usage and spend data but also, through numerous comment fields, provides a clear picture of of the individual libraries strategy and vision for moving towards E and explores the issues and challenges they face.

The Barometer explores the money spent on electronic versus print monograph purchases, if the e-books are bought directly from publishers or through aggregators, if the books are catalogued in the OPAC or available through a discovery system and what that means for the usage, how much money is spent on Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) and which influence will e-books have for the future of the library, and what are the barriers for growth?

Most of the libraries see a steady growth in spend of on average 13% per year and compared with a fall of around 7% on print purchases it shows a slow but clear budget movement – some libraries however have had to cut down on both print and e due to general budget cuts.

Direct purchase from publishers is favoured by the larger libraries, whereas smaller libraries look more to the aggregated packages. This can have a practical reason as publisher packages need heavy funding, but also that the aggregator packages give more choice for a limited budget. As with e-journals most money is spent on book packages instead of single titles – single titles in the e-environment seem to be regarded as too difficult to handle as opposed to print.

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