August 29, 2014

3M Revamps Library Ebook Acquisition Tool

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3M acquisition tool screen3M is in the process of rolling out a new catalog acquisition tool (CAT) for its Cloud Library ebook platform, the company announced today. Beta testers said that new features included with the buying tool offer several helpful improvements compared with the old interface.

Along with the new CAT, 3M has signed agreements with new publishers including Random House Mondadori, which will add to the service’s collection of Spanish titles, as well as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, including their list of children’s content, according to a company announcement.

The Cloud Library’s original back-end “was very bare bones, and it was lacking some things that someone who is more of a mass buyer would be looking for, like the ability to have more than one cart at a time, and the ability to adjust the quantities [of an ebook title] before adding it to the cart,” said Amy Calhoun, virtual branch coordinator for the Sacramento Public Library.

Calhoun added that during the beta test, the reporting features from the original interface were not available as an integrated component of the new system. But “from what I’ve seen of what we have to work with so far, [the new acquisition tool] is much easier, much quicker.”

When 3M launched the Cloud Library platform less than a year and a half ago, the company had very little experience selling ebooks, explained Tom Mercer, 3M library systems digital business development leader. So, some of the original back-end acquisition tools were designed in a way that may have been more appropriate for a business-to-consumer website. For example, the interface offered lots of information about individual titles, “but didn’t necessarily match what collection development libraries do every day,” Mercer said. “They need to know a lot of books in certain genres that are interesting. They need to know series information. They need to be presented with a lot more trending information.”

The overhauled acquisition interface includes genre and readalike lists curated by former LJ Book Reviews editor Heather McCormack, noted Michael Santangelo, who has beta tested the system in his role as electronic resources analyst for the Brooklyn Public Library.

“She has been very receptive to what people need, so that’s something from the labor side that was very helpful,” he said.

There is also a new “shop by ISBN” tool that allows librarians to order multiple ebooks at once by copying and pasting lists of ISBN numbers, and buttons that will allow libraries to put an entire featured list of titles into their cart with one click. The layout has been designed to display information including the number of copies owned by the library and the number of copies currently on hold in a line-by-line display with the title, author, cover image, and other relevant information.

Other features include a criteria builder, which allows users to specify several publishers prior to a search, or to narrow their search by category, genre, or price.

“The design is a lot more streamlined, so there’s far fewer clicks to make a purchase, and a lot of the information that librarians want is right at their fingertips—how many holds are on this book, how many copies do we own, how many have placed the title on the wish list, a patron-driven acquisition feature of ours,” Mercer said. “Pulling all of that information together in a very clean list view along with other relevant information was a huge step forward.”

3M Acquisition Tool Screen

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Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com; @matthewenis on Twitter) is Associate Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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