Presentation / Talk

Selecting and managing e-book solutions

Many collection development practices are relevant for electronic books as well as for their paper counterparts: selection, acquisition, management, cataloguing, evaluation, etc. Over the years, libraries have developed best practices and tools to tackle these issues for physical objects. But tools to handle e-books have yet to be developed. On the contrary, librarians are often overwhelmed by the disparity in e-books solutions and lack a way to rationally select the solution that best suits their needs. To start the discussion, we first present the real- life example of the selection of a new e-book provider for an academic library to suggest a systematic approach to the problem. The selection process starts with the listing of objective decision criteria (e.g. pricing and loan models, ease of integration in our catalogue, ease of use, file format, etc.), which are then used as base for a market analysis. Six major providers of comparable content (e-books mainly in English and on scientific and technical subjects) are tested against those criteria. In addition to that, the actual availability and pricing of a sample list of 3’000 representative titles is assessed by matching it to the catalogue of all surveyed providers. We thus have developed a system able to help us choose which supplier best suits our specific acquisition needs. The above method can of course be repeated for every library wishing to develop an e-books collection. But the data we have collected can also easily be extended to a shared database, from which other libraries can profit (a sort of “Global e- books in print”). Collaboration between libraries and content providers could also lead to the creation of simple tools that would help the selection process. We will also address the remaining challenges in the evaluation of e- books usage, which is critical for coherent collection development. The goal of this workshop is to share experience among the participants in the management of ebooks and to discuss the opportunity and feasability of collaborative tools to help libraries develop a coherent e-book collection.

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