How E books Overcome the Cost of Printed Books

Upjohn Library hopes to provide a wider and more accessible selection to K students

By Kamalaldin M. Kamalaldin

Upjohn Library Commons has been increasingly purchasing eBooks for the past eight years. The library’s eBook collection begun with the state of Michigan’s purchase of two big eBook collections: ebrary Academic Complete and EBSCOhost.

Alone, those two libraries contributed to the addition of more than a 100,000 eBooks to Upjohn’s collection.  Thereafter, the collection was supplemented by reference books from Gale Virtual Reference Library and Credo Reference. Furthermore, the library bought small, specific eBook collections from Oxford, Cambridge, and Wiley through individual package acquisitions.

Various eBook acquisition models exist. Some of these models are rental model, where the library pays an annual fee to maintain the rights to access the eBooks and provide them to Kalamazoo College students. Other models include the complete purchasing of an eBook.

Demand Driven Acquisition (DDA) is a recent eBook purchasing model being utilized by the library. Through this model, the library orders eBooks it thinks might be useful to students, but does not pay anything until and unless students use the eBooks. Thus, the actual eBook purchase is not made until a student triggers it, usually by reading the eBook for a set amount of time or printing from it. This model can enable the library to provide eBooks in an inexpensive fashion.

“[While] some schools [use DDA] really broadly, we are sort of dappling on a title by title bases,” said Leslie Burke, Collection Development and Digital Integration Librarian. For now, the DDA model is used only for “just in case” situations, in which the library checks out books that might be of interest to students, but that have not been requested yet.

The most useful application of an eBook is utilized when teachers request an eBook to be put on reserve. Provided with a link to the eBook, students can access the eBook the teacher assigns for reading 24/7, without having to sign it out. Furthermore, eBooks have no late fines and can be accessed while on study abroad, on study away, or during an internship, and can be downloaded to phones and tablets, making them more accessible than print.

Because of the limited history of eBook usage at K, Upjohn could not conduct studies on how eBooks are being used by students. Before the introduction of Library OneSearch in the fall of 2013, “a lot of people didn’t even know [K] had eBooks,” said Burke.

According to Burke, the main reason behind the slow eBook integration is the students’ and faculty’s unfamiliarity with the technology and the utilities it offers. “It is going to get more common and people will be more used to it, but there are still going to be things that people are going to want to do on paper,” she added.

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