Measuring the value of e-books in academic libraries

How should academic libraries determine the value of e-books?  A Springer White Paper (Scholarly eBooks: Understanding the Return on Investment for Libraries) explores why libraries should measure value - and how they should go about it.RoI is a complex issue and different institutions are using a range of measures.  Factors that may be considered include:

  • Effect on research output
  • Time saved by library staff and researchers
  • Space saving
  • Cost saved on content acquisition
  • Usage figures per e-book (vs usage figures per print copy)
  • Use of e-resources can lead to increased number of citations - which can influence grant applications
Key lessons for librarians
  • Stay current with relevant RoI research - and be ready to refer to it in discussions with University administrators
  • Partnering with publishers to promote e-resources encourages efficient searching and usage
  • Enhanced discoverability of e-books encourages multi-disciplinary work
  • Usage statistics vary between publishers
  • Additionally, e-book users tend to read chapters not whole books, but most usage statistics do not reflect this
  • Libraries will continue to have to prove value for money - librarians need to focus on having comprehensive RoI data available.
  • Learn from the lessons of e-journals - consensus about usage figures will emerge, just as they did for e-journals
  • There is much work to be done in collaboration with publishers - including developing usage measures and deepening understanding of user needs
The White Paper is available (free of charge) at