Posted by: Steven Harris | March 4, 2008

E-book Integration

E-books just won’t get out of my brain. Everywhere I turn: E-books!

Brett Bonfield over on ACRLog has been pondering the “future strengths” (ok, WEAKNESSES) of academic librarianship, one of which is that we seem headed down the road of not owning our book collections, just like we don’t own our journal collections. I share the same fear. Which is why I have never been very excited about leased e-book subject collections. I’ll pay a bloody platform fee, but let me own the content. Many folks will argue that they get access to a larger quantity of material through a leasing option, and the patrons only want the new stuff anyway! I say, FORGET NOT the archival function of libraries (do we still do that?).

Jenica Rogers-Urbanek is concerned about the care and feeding of e-books, by which she means the integration of e-books into the technical services work flow, how to acquire e-books and get them cataloged and accessible in the same way as other books. We’ve been sticking our toe in the title-by-title e-book purchasing pool through Blackwell and Ebrary. It did require a little bit of splashing about before we got the workflow established. (I think we’ve gotten it established!)

Rick Lugg, one of the Rs over at R2 Consulting, offers a nice set of PowerPoint slides about integrating e-books into the approval process. It would be nice to hear Rick fill in the details live. (How about a beer and a Po’ Boy, Rick?) He points out that mainstreaming e-books like this will have a number of beneficial effects: from reducing returns and lowering costs to providing an immediate preview copy.

I was speaking with the friendly folks over at Blackwell’s the other day. They have been picking the brains of librarians about how they would like to see e-books integrated into the approval process. We also are running a trial of Oxford Scholarship Online. A lot of academic libraries are a bit further along than we are with e-books. I anticipate we will purchase a few publisher collections in the future. The question will be how can we minimize duplication through an e-book approval plan. Our state consortium is also talking about shared or synchronized approval plans. Can e-books be part of that? Can we lend e-books through ILL and if we can’t what value are they to a consortial collection?

Many unanswered questions.


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