University of Wolverhampton

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Venue: University of Wolverhampton

Date: 10th December 2013


  • Lorella Baynes (Content Development Supervisor)
  • Reetu Child (Digital Library Officer)
  • Trish Fouracres (Assistant Director, Client Services)
  • Joss Granger (Liaison Services Manager)
  • Frances Machell (Content & Digital Library Development Manager)
  • Elaine Thomas (Finance Administrator)
  • John Thomas (Customer Services Librarian)
  • Mark Williams (Liaison Librarian)

1 – Selection

Attendees identified the following problems encountered by the library in the selection process of purchasing an eBook:

  • The multiplicity of different suppliers, different purchasing models and different licences makes it complicated to define a policy of where to purchase from and which model to use to ensure the institutions need is met as institutions. It is also difficult to know when to draw the line as institutions do not want hundreds of suppliers but it is not possible to buy everything from a single supplier
  • Some titles are only available from the publisher but they are not always available on an institutional licence
  • Administrative burden of acquiring eBooks. There are different purchase models, different licences and different restrictions, and there is no definitive place to establish where a title is available from. It is therefore necessary to check all the different places a title could be available from which is time consuming and a duplication of work
  • Lack of flexibility in purchase triggers for PDA from some suppliers.
  • Subject bias was encountered in some PDA packages
  • Multiple different license models – it is difficult to know where to pitch it as institutions do not want students turned away, therefore err on the side of caution even if it costs.
  • Some suppliers are beginning to sell direct to the academics which will prevent the service from reaching its potential of delivering resources to an institution to allow students to pass their course but to also support wider access to information

2 – Administration

Attendees commented on the problems encountered in the management of eBooks. The following common issues were identified:

  • Limited discoverability of eBooks through the discovery tool. Metadata for individually purchased titles is missing from the knowledgebase or is inaccurate as publishers don’t share the data. After purchase a title will generally become available through the platform within 24 hours but there is currently a 3 week delay as to when it becomes available on the discovery system. Although a temporary work around has been created to resolve this issue it is time consuming and should not be necessary
  • Some eBooks have found to be available through a database but are not appearing on Summon or through the supplier’s platform
  • Difficult to manage the credit-based model as even within a supplier there are different credit models.
  • The infrastructure that the access to eBooks is part of is the responsibility of a number of parties and for access to be successful everything has to work together. For example not only does a user have to successfully identify themselves as a member of the institution but the correct edition of the software e.g. Java or Adobe must be installed on the PC
  • Problems were encountered with the disappearance of titles from Summon after they had ‘bought’ through PDA. It was recognised that this was because it had to be removed from the PDA package in the knowledgebase and then added to a local holdings

3 – Use & Assessment

Attendees discussed the problems encountered in using and evaluating the value of eBooks. The following issues were raised:

  • EBooks do not always meet the expectations of the user. While most users understand that a physical item can be unavailable they tend to expect immediate online access which is not always possible
  • Lack of standard experience, for example different platforms display different messages when a user has been placed in a queue for access, across the different platforms can cause user confusion
  • Attendees commented that a numbers of titles from subscribed packages have been identified as out of date
  • No electronic equivalent of weeding. Although weeding is practised on print copies and old editions identified to have been superseded, there is currently no equivalent policy for eBooks. Wolverhampton have recognised this as an issue and are looking at ways to deal with it
  • Lack of shared understanding of workflows. Whilst the print mode is simple and everyone in the organisation understands it the lack of standardisation in the electronic model makes it difficult for an understanding across the service to provide a comprehensive service to the user
  • Difficulties have been reported on embedding links to eBooks into the VLE which is important for Wolverhampton because of their international provision
  • Limited depth of usage statistics available from some suppliers of PDA. EBL can provide more detailed and granular statistics for usage analysis to evaluate if PDA is a successful method of procurement

4 – User Experience

Due to time constraints a limited discussion was held on problems encountered by the users. The following issues were raised:

  • The lack of ILL service for distance learners – could eBooks be developed to fill this absence?
  • Inability to meet user expectations. Many users expectations are built on the consumer eBook model which the intuitional model cannot match. Rather than report the problems they often walk
  • Increasingly being asked to provide more support for devices
  • Receive a lot of feedback that e-content is a problem
  • Lack of live access at catalogue terminals is the most common complaint

5 – Most discussed pain points

  • Multiplicity of suppliers, purchase models and license terms make it difficult to define an acquisition policy and makes it time consuming to purchase e-content
  • Suppliers beginning to sell direct to the academics
  • Complexity of the infrastructure that supports access to eBooks

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