Last week, I attended UNYSLA’s fall conference ebooks and Libraries: Success All Around
at the Inn complete here in Syracuse. It was my first library conference, and I am thankful to the UNYSLA for putting together the event, giving the attendees networking time, packing it with knowledgeable speakers, and making it affordable for students. While a wide range of topics were covered,two stood out to me because they have not yet been covered in my classes: Patron
Driving Acquisition of ebooks and the issues arising in consortiums,
specifically, interlibrary loan in regards to ebooks.
First, Kate Cunningham-Hendrix and Charles Lyons discussed their experiment into patron driven acquisition of eBooks at SUNY Buffalo. Essentially, in patron driven acquisition, the librarian stands backs and allows the members (in this case the students) to determine which ebooks are acquired based on popularity. In their experiment, students were given access to a wide range of materials online. If the student accessed a book they had not licensed, the library would
pay for the time they accessed the ebook at a rate agreed with the publisher/provider. If students frequently accessed the book X number of times, the library automatically bought the license for the ebook. They found the ebooks they acquired were frequently academic, relevant to the university’s classes and the rate the acquisition remained within their budget. With their
success in patron driven acquisition, I wonder if this is the future for special libraries? Additionally, how will this influence the acquisition policies of other university libraries?
The concept of increasingly acquiring ebooks in academic libraries tied into the second issue which stood on to me: Libraries cannot interlibrary loan ebooks! Libraries increase access to information outside of their catalogues through interlibrary loans with fellow libraries in the consortium the library belongs to. However, if libraries increasingly acquire licenses for digital materials over physical books, how will this effect the future of consortiums? According to most licensing agreements, it is illegal to print out a book or a chapter and send it a library outside the
agreement. What will be the use of consortiums if libraries cannot assist each other with access to
information! While the technology exists and I find patron driven acquisition an awesome idea, I hope publishers and distributers will compromise with librarians so we are able to continue to
expand our ebook collections while maintaining the services and ethics which have
developed to promote the free access to information.