1. Determine Your Collection Development Strategy
Libraries typically assemble their eBook collections through one of two strategies "pick and choose" or "critical mass." The pick and choose strategy, in which librarians acquire individual titles, provides institutions with the flexibility to supplement their print catalogs with targeted selections and ease into an eBook strategy very slowly. Because pick and choose acquisition strategies require less initial investment of time and budget, they are often easier for institutions to accept. However, over the long term, greater overall costs and more restrictive Digital Rights Management (DRM) policies can make pick and choose an unattractive proposition.
The critical mass strategy consists of focusing initial acquisitions on building a mass of subject-specific content large enough to encourage intense usage. While critical mass strategies do not provided the specificity of pick and choose, they are more cost-effective, tend to have less restrictive DRM policies attached to content, and provide more overall content usage for a given budget.
After establishing sufficient coverage in a high-demand area, libraries should seek a group of "early adopters," willing to experiment with all available research features. By interviewing these users about research tools and methods, librarians can begin broadening their collections with a realistic assessment of user needs.
When pursuing a critical mass strategy, Librarians should begin with high-demand, frequently searched material in which content freshness is critical. Generally, reference materials and monographs, particularly in the Science, Technology and Medicine (STM) fields, are most amenable to eBook collections. STM users tend to be more familiar with online research than those of other disciplines, and their research styles expose the advantages of eBooks very quickly. Ms. Jane Miller, Electronic Information Systems & Services Librarian of Victoria University, Melbourne echoed this sentiment. "In 5 years print and eBooks purchase will be equal and eBooks will be universally accepted by users. In 10 years eBooks will be the norm" in science and business."
After establishing sufficient coverage in a high demand area, libraries should seek a group of "early adopters," willing to experiment with all available research features. By interviewing these users about research tools and methods, librarians can begin broadening their collections with a realistic assessment of user needs.
2. Evaluate Different Business Models
Once they have completed their early adopter interviews, librarians should use that data to evaluate a number of critical vendor policies. The most critical features to assess are:
- Digital Rights Management (DRM) DRM technologies protect content publishers' rights by limiting the end user's ability to copy, forward, or otherwise manipulate content. These protections may inhibit users' research methods, countering many of the values of electronic documents (such as cut and paste), or the ability to have multiple users access content simultaneously. Selecting a vendor with the smallest possible amount of DRM will increase user satisfaction and content usage.
- Number of Concurrent Users Some vendors place restrictions on simultaneous access, limiting each piece of content to a small number of users. While any number of concurrent users greater than one is an improvement over printed material, libraries should seek out providers with no user limitations or very high limits, as many electronic titles, will have very high demand spikes.
- COUNTER Compliance The Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources (COUNTER) initiative is the de facto standard for usage measurement in the reference industry, allowing librarians to compare usage statistics between publishers and institutions. Publishers that do not provider COUNTER-compliant tools will be difficult to benchmark, making cost-justifications difficult and time-consuming, if not impossible.
- Availability of MARC Records Vendors should supply MARC records in an easily-imported format to allow librarians to integrate electronic collections into their OPAC systems. Without these, electronic collections will remain an island until librarians dedicate resources to the time-consuming, expensive task of manual catalog integration.
- Ownership vs. Subscription Many eBook publishers have adopted an ongoing subscription model popular with other digital services. This leaves libraries' most critical assets vulnerable to contract disputes, the publisher's financial well-being, and other acts beyond the library's control. Librarians should seek out publishers who provide the same level of content ownership found in the printed book world.
- Archiving Policies Libraries should retain day-to-day and long-term access to eBook content, regardless of changes in a publisher's status. To fulfill these requirements, publishers should provide perpetual content access to libraries in business agreements and participate in an archiving program such as CLOCKSS or PORTICO to ensure that content persists. Libraries should also require that contracts provide access to archived versions of periodicals, ensuring that users can perform historical searches in one location.
- Flexibility Each library is different, and librarians should seek out publishers who are willing to provide flexible package arrangements. For example, content packages based on subject collection or research intensity allow librarians the ability to supplement their collections cost-effectively by paying for the content they need most.
3. Gain Internal Support
Institutions should create widespread understanding and acceptance of eBooks within their library community before releasing new initiatives to users. They should begin by educating Subject Specialists and Librarian Liaisons on the benefits of eBooks versus print books and discussing the different collection development strategies and business models of various publishers. To help internal supporters convince their peers, institutions should turn to other librarians who have made successful eBook transitions, inviting them to share their stories. Content publishers can provide statistics, librarian referrals, and other helpful resources. For example, Springer has helped 130 libraries worldwide libraries implement eBook programs, recently fielded and in-depth international interview and survey of six leading libraries, and can provide a wealth of anecdotal and statistical information to help librarians champion eBooks.
4. Plan Policy Changes with Subject Specialists/ Librarian Liaisons
Any eBook introduction will require budgetary and acquisition policy changes, as well as an inventory of user behaviors and needs. Before implementing an eBook strategy, institutions should invite all relevant personnel to discuss what changes need to be made to library procedures and policies for acquiring eBooks versus print books. Libraries should first discuss how the acquisition of e-books will impact approval plans of titles in print, and what acquisitions and processing operations will change to accommodate the purchase of e-books.
After confirming procedural changes, they should evaluate budgetary sources for eBook acquisition. This is often a matter of some contention, as designated "book" librarians or individual departments may be unwilling to part with portions of their budgets for a centralized eBook acquisitions department. Institutions that encounter budgetary conflicts should enlist the help of other librarians who have implemented eBook programs. At this point, libraries should also estimate usage profiles by type or asset, since these can impact vendor choice, licensing agreements, and ultimately, budget constraints.
Examples of factors to consider in this process include, the estimated umber of concurrent content viewers, user search behavior, the number of access points (e.g. one library, multiple libraries, or Web-connected home PCs), and the necessity of printing documents. Librarians should also take special note of their early adopter's needs. By acquiring appropriate content for these users, libraries can build internal success stories they can use to build support for future acquisitions.
5. Discuss Implementation with Technical Staff
After establishing business needs, libraries should enlist their IT or cataloging departments, or perhaps, their consortia to discuss requirements and timelines for loading MARC records into the library environment so that end users will find the texts they need. Libraries choosing to load locally may require additional hardware and software during the initial loading phase, with processes, training, and a smaller subset of those resources in place for ongoing additions.
6. Choose Collections and Vendors
After determining a collection development strategy and choosing a business model, libraries can begin ordering collections. Within the categories established in Step 1, librarians should select their collections and vendors by balancing:
- Collection size and breadth
- Availability of MARC records
- Packaged content versus a pick and choose model
- Archive access
- Unlimited usage and ownership
- Link eBooks to the OPAC
Once they have access to their eBook collection, librarians need to make the collection visible to users. eBook publishers should provide ways through which patrons can find eBook content. That information can be in the form of MARC Records, or URL lists that can be inserted in the OPAC, link resolvers, as well as A-Z lists.
8. Communicate to Users
To get the most out from eBook investments, libraries should promote their collection to users. The eBook vendor or Publisher should be able to provide tools to assist in this process. Librarians should check their publisher's Web site for on-site and remote training, banner ads, downloadable posters, and other promotional aids. Libraries should also use email, intranets, and departmental forums to spread the word.
9. Download Usage Statistics
With a successful implementation completed, libraries should evaluate the speed at which users are embracing the new eBook collection and the research methods they are adopting. If a publisher provides COUNTER-compliant statistics, libraries can compare these with other libraries in various stages of eBook adoption.
10. Review / Renew
After three to six months of use, libraries should interview users and evaluate their future needs. They should then contact their publisher to plan the upcoming year's renewals and purchases and discuss these needs the technology and processes that might meet their emerging needs. Publishers should be able to provide tools, case studies, and client references to address the majority of these needs, and any new suggestions will drive business and product development in the future