seeing the whole elephant in the room a holistic approach to ebooks

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Ebooks have been part of the academic library landscape for several years but students and faculty have not fully embraced them the same way they have adopted other online sources such as ejournals, databases, and e-reference works. The current state of scholarly ebooks poses challenges for library staff, students and scholars alike. Library staff face complex decisions in selection and acquisitions, and wrestle with challenges around preservation, sharing, promotion, discovery and access. Library users face a dizzying array of interfaces and use restrictions and are still learning how to best incorporate them into their studies and research. We decided to tackle all of these problems and questions holistically and address the entire ebooks lifecycle by drawing on staff expertise in selections, acquisitions, electronic resource management, copyright, licensing, and user experience design. We used evidence wherever we could find it to create an ebooks strategy for our library—a strategy that encompasses all aspects of the ebook from selection to discovery and access. In this session, we will outline the qualitative and quantitative research that informed our strategy document and that now informs our approach to ebook management. In particular we will highlight some of the more innovative qualitative research on ebook adoption that is beginning to emerge including CUNY’s own forthcoming publication on student reading practices, and our own original research investigations. About us: Robin Bergart is a User Experience Librarian at the University of Guelph. She has an MA in Religious Studies, a Master of Jewish Education and an MISt from the University of Toronto. She is starting all over again having just enrolled in a BA program in Sociology. Pamela Jacobs (MSc, MLIS) is Acting Head, Information Resources at the University of Guelph Library. Pam has a BSc and MSc in Botany from the University of Guelph and an MLIS from UIUC. Her work focuses on evidence-based decision making in collection development, management and analysis.


  • 1. McLaughlin Library Seeing the whole elephant in the room: a holistic approach to ebooks Robin Bergart and Pamela Jacobs Reinventing Libraries: Reinventing Assessment June 6, 2014

2. McLaughlin Library Who are we? Robin Bergart User Experience Librarian Pamela Jacobs Acting Head, Information Resources @pamelajacobs Image Copyright 2007 Jeremiah Blatz Image Copyright 2007 Peter H. Wrege 3. McLaughlin Library You are not just buying content. You are buying content, software, licenses, DRM and an ongoing relationship with a vendor Sue Polanka (2012) Why do we need an ebook strategy? 4. McLaughlin Library Ebook Strategy Working Group Pam Jacobs Robin Bergart Linda Da Maren Linda Day Jennifer Easter Alan Gale Heather Martin Judy Wanner Image Copyright 2012 Benh Lieu Song 5. McLaughlin Library Project Scope Selection and acquisition Electronic resource management (ERM) Discovery and user experience (UX) Preservation Evaluation 6. McLaughlin Library Goals Increase access and usability Make more informed selection decisions Create more efficient workflows Provide feedback to vendors Ensure digital preservation of ebooks Improve communication with our users about ebooks 7. McLaughlin Library Methods Current State External Scan Critical Issues Recommendations 8. McLaughlin Library Areas Investigated Selection Budget Acquisitions Licensing Discovery Accessibility User experience Monitoring & review 9. McLaughlin Library FINDINGS 10. McLaughlin Library Ebooks available at UG Over 400,000 titles Over 65 platforms Individual titles to packages via consortia Purchase and subscriptions Various business models Aggregators to publisher direct 11. McLaughlin Library Management of ebooks Workflow and records management challenges for large ebook collections MARC records from publishers Inaccurate, poor quality, wrong titles Results in unacceptable delay in user access 12. McLaughlin Library Analyzing use Metrics are problematic As collections grow, usage grows Accurate title counts needed Access restrictions affect use Discoverability affects use 13. McLaughlin Library USER EXPERIENCE STUDY 14. McLaughlin Library UX Study Questions Are our students choosing ebooks for their academic work? What are the perceived advantages and disadvantages of using ebooks? Are ebooks meeting our students needs and expectations? What can the library do to improve our students relationship with ebooks? 15. McLaughlin Library Methods Recruitment Pre-study survey Diaries Interviews 16. McLaughlin Library [Both] have their place. I like having the book right in front of me and being able to follow along with my finger and not having to share the computer screen [with my notes], but for accessibility and availability...and its obviously very cheap...and it also means I dont have to track it down from the library, they definitely both have their merits. - MSc student 17. McLaughlin Library Findings Personal comfort Availability Portability Intended use Cost 18. McLaughlin Library Personal Comfort Magnifying the print was a godsend during this time because my eyes were strained and tired from dry eyes. - 3rd year Psychology Student 19. McLaughlin Library Availability The most important feature is to be able to access the books without having to get them out of the library and you can look at a book and scan through it to see if its what you want. - MSc Psychology Student 20. McLaughlin Library Portability I like how it goes everywhere with you, its super light. I already carry around a laptop and I dont want to have to carry around an additional 30 lb textbook. - 3rd year Animal Science Student 21. McLaughlin Library Intended use Ebooks are cool, but I still prefer print books for academic stuff. With journal articles, its OK, but theyre maybe 12-14 pages, but ebooks are over 100 pages so I wont say I love them. I like them, but I dont love them. I prefer print. - Spanish Studies MA Student 22. McLaughlin Library Cost Its easier to share [an ebook] among friends. Well logon to the same account any only one of us has to buy it. I dont know if thats legal. Thats the truth. I dont know if were supposed to do it but we do. - 3rd year Animal Science Student 23. McLaughlin Library RECOMMENDATIONS & CONCLUSIONS 24. McLaughlin Library Recommendations Improve records management workflows Improve discovery Improve resource sharing of ebooks Create support tools for use of ebooks Investigate preservation services for ebooks 25. McLaughlin Library Recommendations Select ebooks with the fewest barriers Advocate for fewer DRM restrictions and more accessible formats and functionality Increase faculty outreach Investigate e-textbooks 26. McLaughlin Library I think the study was really interesting and its nice to see that the library is interested in what the students like, because technology is a big part of our lives. I didnt think [the Library] would do studies on ebooks and would just assume technology is the way to go. - 1st year Psychology Student 27. McLaughlin Library We welcome your questions Image copyright 2014 Jan Willemsen

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