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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However, in Denmark as international library acquisition models are changing – with the increased number of published material combined with decreasing budgets, as well as the last 10 years noticeable change in staff profiles from subject specialists to information generalists, it is becoming untenable to keep building subject collections. Other acquisition models more in keeping with user expectations for immediate access have to be investigated and PDA is having a bigger amount devoted in 2013 – both on the actual PDA and the Evidence Based Purchase (EBP).

Out of the 14 libraries that have replied five of them already have or are planning to have some kind of PDA in 2013. A single library, that had PDA in 2012, has deselected it this year. There is a great variation in the amount estimated on PDA purchases but for all libraries the amount has increased from 50-150%.

Danish libraries are not expected to buy text books for course material which facilitate the move to electronic material. Hewlett Packard conducted a 10-minute online survey at the San Jose State University showing that students in predominantly humanities preferred their text books as print. In Denmark no in-depth research has been done so far on the preferences of students and researchers, but anecdotal information such as feedback to librarians and conference talks (Forum for E-resources spring meeting 2014) shows that a high proportions of especially STEM students are rapidly leaving the physical library for the ease of all information carried on light weight kindles and tablets. But even students of core humanities such as history have been heard saying that if it isn’t online, they aren’t interested.

So with users expecting fingertip availability of electronic material and a technology which supports it what is keeping the Danish libraries back from moving entirely electronic?

The replies show a transfer of resources from printed books to digital books and if books are available in digital format, several libraries have decided to acquire digital rather than printed versions. Two respondents reply that they purchase printed books on the demand of their user even though they have the books as e-books

Some of the largest hurdles mentioned in the E-book barometer is availability of Danish (and other Scandinavian) language books, many Danish publishers are still wary of publishing electronically worrying about loss of revenue, and some platforms offering books in Danish have no library model available.

Another large hurdle is the DMR (Digital Rights Management) used by the aggregators, one library uses many resources on Pick and Choose agreements directly at the publishers thereby avoiding it. This way provides a better user experience but it can also be a factor that dampens the growth because of the many resources the signing of agreements demand. From a purchasing perspective it is easier to use aggregators.

The figures for the 2013 survey are coming in at present to be presented in Session C105 at Internet Librarian International in October. This session explores the latest wave of new acquisition models in a variety of organisations.

 Helle Lauridsen is Head of Library Relations at ProQuest; Vibeke Christensen is from Aarhus University Library, Denmark.

 Photo courtesy of Andy Melton, via Flickr.

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