On May 25, nine libraries from the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries launched a demand-driven acquisitions (DDA) ebook pilot program. The consortial effort, which is being run with YBP Library Services, EBook Library (EBL), and ebrary, may help determine whether a short-term loan model might ultimately serve as a good proxy for interlibrary loan.
In many respects, the program is similar to the larger pilot being run by the 37 members of the Oregon-based Orbis Cascade Alliance in partnership EBL and YBP. Orbis announced June 12 that its pilot, which launched in July 2011 with an original six-month timeline, had received a budget of $750,000 to extend the program into FY13.
A number of panels at ALA’s annual conference this week in Anaheim will look at the issues that surround such projects (see list below).
The Colorado pilot DDA (also called patron-driven acquisition, PDA) program has a budget of $125,000, which was amassed through equal contributions, and all the ebooks acquired under the program will be accessible to and jointly-owned by all nine libraries. YBP will provide discovery MARC records to each library, and the records will be loaded into the local integrated library system as well as to the Prospector regional union catalog. Each aggregator is offering 2012 titles from about 10 to 15 different publishers.
The Alliance signs the contracts, collects funds from each member, pays YBP, and performs other collaborative duties in the program.
The program works like this:
A patron from a given library (authenticated via standard proxy servers or Shibboleth) who discovers a title can get a free 5 minute preview for an EBL title and a free 10 minute preview from ebrary. When the use exceeds those thresholds, a short term loan (STL) is triggered for a percentage of the monograph’s retail cost (usually 10 to 15 percent). If six short-term loans are executed for an EBL title then a purchase is triggered for 2.5 times the retail price. For ebrary, three STLs are allowed before a purchase is triggered. Publishers who wanted a higher multiplier were not included in the project, and the maximum retail price allowed is $250.
““This is a model program of allowing academic libraries to expose large bodies of content but only paying for what you use,” said George Machovec, who was appointed as the Alliance’s executive director in May. “We don’t care who’s producing the short term loans or the purchase, but we are providing access to a body of titles for the group. We’ve determined that’s a title we want to collectively own.”
Once an ebook is purchased, titles will remain permanently accessible to each of the nine libraries in the pilot, and YBP will provide a final MARC record (point-of-purchase records) or a library can choose to load an OCLC permanent record which Colorado State University will help create. Ultimately, the discovery record will be removed.
The analysis of initial numbers (through June 15) from the Orbis project show that the proram has so far spent $498,376 to generate 19,312 STLs (7,544 titles accessed 32,947 times) and 490 purchases. Overall, 10,275 titles have been accessed 76,795 times (this includes browsing), with most of the usage coming from undergraduate students.
The combined list price of the content accessed is $1,124,425 (which does not reflect the Orbis multiplier). Orbis has paid 44 percent of list price to facilitate access to this content. The combined list price of the content with a DDA transaction is $814,114, and Orbis has paid 61 percent.
“What’s been most interesting is that were seeing usage all across our member libraries,” said Greg Doyle, the electronic resources program manager for Orbis. “I’ve also noticed you can’t predict usage based on what you would expect a particularly library to do.”
In Colorado, Machovec said there was a lot of interest among the participating libraries to determine how STL based licensing model could be used for broader resource sharing (ILL). For example, the Prospector union catalog now has 41 member libraries, so the question would be could the titles in this program ultimately be made accessible to others.
“This is an important long-term issue since if a way is not found to provide resource sharing with ebooks then traditional rights and privileges that exist with printed materials would be lost,” a summary of the project reads. “The big libraries would have access to many materials and smaller libraries would have much less.”
Doyle, of Orbis, said that it was important to find models, like DDA, that will facilitate resource sharing and move beyond the old, more speculative model of buying print books that publishers are most familiar with because libraries have to use their limited budgets wisely.
“The whole reason we started is because we were very concerned that member libraries were buying books and, due to licensing restrictions or the mechanics of lending an ebook, we were not extending our resource-sharing capabilities,” Doyle said. Still, he noted that the present arrangement was not perfect since the books acquired under the project and jointly owned by the consortium members cannot be lent to libraries outside the consortium.
If the Colorado pilot is extended, the Alliance will look at other metrics, such as use data, institution size, materials budget, to determine if differential pricing needs to be offered.
This type of project is not new for the Alliance, which had the first consortial PDA plan in the United States, developed with NetLibrary, from 1999-2005. Machovec reviewed similar projects in a 2011 presentation.
Libraries participating in the Colorado project are Auraria Library, Colorado College, Colorado State University, Regis University, University of Denver, University of Northern Colorado, Colorado Mesa University, University of Wyoming, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Anyone interested in learning more about the issues and challenges that arise in such projects may find the following sessions of interest this week at ALA’s annual conference in Anaheim: