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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
12/8/2014 1:30:23 PM

E-books and Collection Development

I attended a session on e-books at the most recent Annual Meeting, and I learned that a lot of law libraries had recently started collecting e-books, while some hadn’t started yet. We at Young Law Library at the University of Arkansas aren’t scheduled to provide access to e-books until this month (through the Mid-America Law Library Consortium, or MALLCO), but we have been able to access them for a couple of years through the main campus library. This post will describe my library’s experiences with e-books from a collection development perspective. I hope it may provide e-book newcomers with things to consider, and e-book veterans with the urge to leave advice in the comments section.

One of the other reference librarians and I are the monograph selectors, and we pass the titles on to the serials and acquisitions librarian. We were aware of the existence of e-books, but they weren’t really on our radar since our patrons haven’t been asking for them. They began to affect our collection development decisions last spring, when the serials and acquisitions librarian would reply if a title was already available as an e-book through the main library. My response at the time was “okay, never mind then,” but after speaking with technical services librarians at the main library about their dealings with e-books, I became convinced we needed to specifically address e-books and e-book/print duplication in our information development policy.  

One issue to consider is the permanence of an e-book. When a library has an e-book account, it has access to a pool of titles. For example, our main campus library has an account with ebrary, which is owned by ProQuest. Titles accessible though ebrary (but not actually owned by the library) have a catalog record with the series title “ebrary electronic books dda” (demand-driven acquisition). When a particular title is downloaded a set number of times, the purchase of the e-book is “triggered” and the “dda” is removed from the series title. If an e-book purchase has not been triggered, the title can stay in the pool unless it is removed by the publisher or by the library (for example, if a publisher raises prices more than the library accepts). This particular scenario occurred at our main library, but fortunately the titles we held back on ordering in print have remained.

Another issue is coverage. When we get the e-books through our consortium (through EBL, which like ebrary is owned by ProQuest), we will have access to 12,000 titles, limited to K-classified materials. Since we collect in certain subject areas (Native Americans, agriculture) that fall outside K, we will still need to factor in the main library’s e-book titles when making print purchasing decisions.

As of now, we are deciding on a case-by-case basis which e-book titles we want to duplicate in print. This may change once our own e-book account is made available to our patrons.

Are e-books an established part of your collection? Are they addressed in your collection/information development policy?

Posted By Colleen Williams at 12/8/2014 1:30:23 PM  0 Comments
11/5/2012 9:04:47 AM

The Cognitive Disadvantages of E-Books

Vendors frequently push the advantages of buying e-books instead of print books. There are many advantages, but three specific ones come to mind. First, an e-book can be accessed remotely (depending on license restrictions) and can therefore make a single purchase available in multiple office locations, school buildings, or even at trial or at home. Second, e-books allow the library to devote space to other amenities like study carrels or office space. Third, their use makes the library seem technologically progressive. But are librarians and vendors also aware of the cognitive disadvantages of e-books?

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Posted By Mark Estes at 11/5/2012 9:04:47 AM  0 Comments