Book Acquisition: Eliminate the Guesswork!

Proquest_BookAquisition_600pxLibrarians, regardless of the institution, all want the same thing: to make available those books that are relevant to their user’s needs. Indeed, it’s the wish of most librarians to avoid having to turn a patron away. “Librarians love to buy books and then look at the reporting to see how good of a job they did,” says Diana Peterson, senior director of product management, Ebooks, for ProQuest. “Especially if they’re doing demand-driven acquisition (DDA)—where the books are triggering the purchasing as they're used—librarians really like to go in there and dig in and see the usage data, see what the trends are.” Such are the benefits of accuracy in reporting—a feature of LibCentral, a part of ProQuest’s recently launched Ebook Central platform that Peterson says has generated a sigh of relief among budget-conscious librarians. “It gives them interesting insights into their DDA programs, into what types of books are getting loaned and actually getting purchased based on the profile they set up,” says Peterson. “And it also allows them to weed out titles that are low usage or, if there are multiple editions, to hide the older editions. It answers their main question: ‘How are our researchers using our Ebooks?’” By giving librarians an interface to buy books, administer their settings and programs and run their reporting, LibCentral provides a measure of certainty into the acquisition process. “In the past, librarians may have bought a book and because of limited budget they’d buy it as a one-user or a three-user title,” says Peterson. “Over time they may have seen a lot of usage on that title, and they’d often have to buy more copies. But we have an upgrade feature where they can upgrade from one to three users or three to unlimited. Titles are instantly available to patrons as soon as they’re ordered.” Similarly, when a librarian is unsure of what kind of use they’ll see from a title—and ProQuest has more than 800,000 titles in the academic space—they can deploy LibCentral’s Extended Access feature. “It’s a special setting with rules associated with it, so the librarian doesn’t have to think through book by book,” says Peterson. “They’re setting a rule-based system where they say, ‘if the book is in use, then at the time a second person needs it, then extends access’—it could be a short-term loan, or an upgrade to a three-user, or an outright purchase of another copy. So, at the right moment, unaided by the librarian, the system is going to do the right thing, so no patron is turned away.” There’s also detailed title, usage and expenditure reports, and counter-compliant reports, which librarians can use to look across their different vendors, or to determine particular usage for one-user and three-user titles. For better budgeting, they can see how much they spent overall on their triggered purchases versus the books they explicitly bought. “Librarians can see how their overall budget and their DDA budget plays out over time,” says Peterson. “So they can slice and dice in a deeper way.” That means not only can librarians make better use of their budget, but they can also see trends as they’re developing, privy to the increases and decreases in certain subject areas. “We spent a lot of time on acquisition workflow,” says Peterson. “Years of experience working with librarians has yielded insights based on the question: ‘what works for them when they’re buying their books?’ That’s the starting point for Ebook Central.”

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