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Patron Driven Acquisition: A New Model for Acquiring E-Books

by Amelia Brunskill 10/17/2013 11:29:00 AM

In recent years, the DePaul University Library has joined other academic libraries in investing more heavily in e-books as a complement to our acquisition of print content. The DePaul University Library currently provides access to more than 200,000 e-books in various formats, and has seen use of e-books increase steadily over the past few years; in FY13, we recorded more than 500,000 e-book usages across library systems, which represented a 4% increase in e-book use since FY12 (and a 24% increase since FY10).

"Patron Driven Acquisition" is an approach to acquiring library books that combines traditional acquisition strategies with input from users, with the goal of building collections that can dynamically respond to evolving research and curricular needs.  Long used in the print realm, it has also become popular for e-books as systems have emerged that allow libraries to catalog e-book records but only be charged for the titles themselves if patrons click through and make extended use of a title. These systems allow libraries to either “loan” the book for a small fraction of the list price, or to trigger a purchase of the title.

Last spring, we implemented a small pilot project of e-book PDA, doing weekly loads of records that matched our existing collections criteria.  These records displayed no differently than our regular e-book records, although they can be distinguished on the back end by library staff. We decided to trigger a purchase upon the second extended use of a title.

As of July 30th, we had 9,384 PDA titles loaded in our catalog, of which 89 titles had been loaned and, of these, twenty titles were purchased. The subject areas of the loaned books varied widely and we were generally pleased with how well the titles fit within our existing collection.

Based on the initial success of the trial, we are continuing with this pilot program and will be watching it closely over the next year to see what it will reveal about new trends in interest across DePaul University’s community of users and how we should evolve our practices of collecting new e-book content.


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