The number of academic e-books has exploded in the last few years and some vendors are now offering libraries the opportunity to provide access to these e-books through their library catalogue prior to purchasing the content. This method of acquiring material is called Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA). When an e-book has been accessed two times, the content is purchased by the library. This means that some of the electronic books you see in our catalogue will not be purchased and owned by Western until they are used.
Western Libraries has been experimenting with this form of acquisition since 2007. We have reviewed the books acquired in this manner, monitored the expenditure of funds and refined the process to the point where we are ready to incorporate this method of acquisition into our regular workflows beginning May 1, 2012. Below are some common questions and answers regarding this method of acquisition.
Why has Western Libraries decided to include this method of acquisition into our purchasing processes?
By waiting until this content is used before paying for it, Western Libraries will ensure some of the e-books we acquire are truly what our users need. Several studies have demonstrated that in the print world only about 40% of an academic library collection ever circulates. This will ensure that 100% of the content purchased in this way was used at least twice.
Another advantage is that we can offer access to material that may be considered of minor interest to our users and let the user decide whether it is useful material.
Are we still acquiring books in the traditional ways?
Yes. Patron Driven Acquisition will only be offered for a subset of our collection that fits specific criteria. Collections librarians will still purchase print and electronic material that does not fit the criteria for this new form of acquisition.
How are the e-book titles selected for this type of acquisition?
In order to ensure that Western Libraries is purchasing material appropriate for an academic library, the e-books selected for loading into the catalogue will be based on criteria established by the subject librarians. Since we can offer access to a wider selection of material at no up-front cost you may notice some material that would not ordinarily have been purchased for the library (eg. symposia or textbooks). By offering this method of acquisition to our users, we are giving the users an opportunity to communicate to us what kind of material is important to them. This will be helpful when subject librarians make content selections for print books and e-books that do not fit the criteria for this acquisition model.
Can I tell which titles are not owned?
No. To the user the process of acquiring the material is entirely transparent and there is no way to tell whether a particular title is part of our unowned collection of e-books.
What if I just look at the Table of Contents but decide I don't need to use the book?
An "access" is counted when you actually enter into the book at the chapter or section level. Accessing the table of contents, the index or the title page of the book does not count as a use toward purchase.
There is no time limit on an access. If you enter the book and have it open for minutes or hours, print, or download (to the maximum allowed) only one access is counted. If you exit the book and then come back into it, a second access is counted.
What happens to the books that are never used?
At this time we do not have a limit on the number of months or years a title can remain in the catalogue if it's not used. If our vendor informs us that unpurchased titles must be removed from the catalogue the subject selectors will carefully review the list of titles and purchase anything they feel should be added to our collection.
For books that are purchased, Western owns perpetual access rights to the content.
Who can I ask for more information?
You can speak to your subject librarian or contact the Patron Driven Acquisition working group