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eBooks - Report on Patron-Driven eBooks Plan with Goals and Objectives (August 2009)

Members: Boaz Nadav-Manes, Jim Spear, Bill Kara, Leah Solla, Jill Powell (writer of report), Steve Rockey, John Saylor

For the last several years the approval book budget has been overspent. This past year the overspent amount, combined with the reduction in the materials budget, was large enough ($76,000) to move us to search for a solution to bring the expenditures back in line with the budget. Additionally, the members of this group feel we need to experiment with new models in delivering books that are both cost effective and meet the high expectations of our patrons in standards and service. Collection development for books in the future (at least in the sciences) appears to be moving in the direction of most of our serials  - to e-only.  We want to be ready to meet this challenge. Our goals include:

  1. Experiment with new purchasing models in ebooks, to help us assess and prepare for the         
     issues with this emerging format of scholarly resources.
  2. Save 8% of the approvals budget for science/engr books of approximately $50,000 in a way that still provides useful and convenient access to the books our patrons need for teaching and research.
  3. Acquire only books our patrons actually use. Currently we cannot tell for sure they are using books in the stacks unless they check them out.
  4. Acquire books our patrons actually use, even if they are expensive (up to $350). Science e-books are expensive and haven't been coming on print approval due to a lower ceiling limit.
  5. Ease the shelving space problems in our libraries by acquiring  fewer print books.
  6. Offer a convenient access plan for physical sciences library patrons who are facing a library closure in December 2009.
  7. Empower our patrons by allowing them to make selection decisions
     (guided by our profile, which will include only scholarly books).
  8. Increase the potential pool of books available (by loading MARC
    records for all the books by publishers we choose and profiles we choose).

In May-June 2009 Boaz, Jim, and Bill explored options and held conversations with YBP/EBL and MyiLibrary. They offer systems that load MARC records in our catalog for books we identify (scholarly and in scope). Patrons, instead of selectors, would decide which ebooks we actually purchase by clicking on them more than once. The first click (and view of the full text) is free; a 2nd click would generate a purchase. The book is then available electronically to all currently affiliated Cornell users. Print copies of books by targeted publishers would cease to arrive on approval.

Boaz, Jim, and Bill collected information from YBP/EBL and MyiLibrary.  EBL's implementation has been well reported at conferences.  For MyiLibrary Bill and Jim spoke with UC Merced about their implementation. CUL had previously purchased individual ebooks using the MyiLibrary system.  Jim created an eBook chart comparing both options. For the subject areas being explored previous receipts on the YBP approval plan were checked.  Jim and Boaz generated a report by publisher on the number of volumes acquired and their value for a two year period.  Jill, Leah, Steve and John (selectors for engineering, computer science, mathematics and the physical sciences) then prioritized those publishers they would include in a patron-driven plan and this list was sent to both EBL and MyiLibrary to check availability in their systems. Since these science selectors were particularly interested in this project, they consulted with the science team and compiled a list of suggested publishers to try with this new system.

After more meetings, the group decided MyiLibrary was the best selection. MyiLbrary offers more publishers with dual access availability (purchased ebooks can activated and used on the publisher's website as well) and more publishers with the ability to print the whole book on demand (this feature will need further exploration after the initial implementation of the patron-driven plan). Users can print 10 pages at a time, up to 3 times in 1 session. While YBP/EBL offers a 5 minute free browse feature before a book incurs a charged use or purchase, a disadvantage is a software requirement (Adobe Digital Editions) which would need to be available on all public access computers and be downloaded by patrons on their own computers. EBL, however, did offer a greater variety of use/purchase options and has more experience in larger patron driven plans.

The following publishers will be switched from print approval to MyiLibrary starting in early August 2009.  The list of publishers is only for the sciences call number range Q-QE, T-TS (excluding TR - Photography):

1) Cambridge University Press
2) Chapman/CRC
3) Elsevier/North Holland
4) John Wiley (and all imprints...Blackwell included)
5) MIT
6) Morgan Kaufmans
7) Oxford/Clarendon
8) Princeton University Press
9) Routledge
10) University of Chicago Press
11) Walter de Gruyter

Books priced higher than the $350 price ceiling  will not be loaded into our catalog but will appear as slips in WCS for firm ordering. Currently neither Leah nor Jill use slips but order books on request. Boaz indicated there is a way to set WCS to block all books but those ebooks over $350 to make it more manageable.

We will want statistics on use once this new system is in place. One advantage is a better idea of book use. We don't know how often a book is browsed in the stacks, but we will know how often an ebook is browsed. 

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