Using an Evidence-Based Approach to e-book Acquisitions

September 8, 2016 The Wiley Network


Alliance_logo_official.gifAs a consortium consisting of 37 libraries that vary in size and type — from community colleges to large public research institutions — here at the Orbis Cascade Alliance, we are constantly evaluating how well we meet our members’ needs.

In 2011, the increase of digital book usage at our member institutions correlated with a downturn in resource sharing due to their attendant licenses prohibiting interlibrary loans. After careful consideration, the Alliance decided to pilot a demand-driven acquisitions (DDA) program in response to this emerging issue.

In 2014, we added an e-book subscription database to our offerings to members. This combination of DDA and subscription models for e-books allowed us to pursue access and purchase options in tandem to meet patrons’ front-list and back-list content needs.

However, the subsequent volatility in the DDA marketplace required us to reconsider our program’s approach. Rising short-term loan rates throughout 2014 and 2015 created a series of crises in need of management to keep our activities within budget. It became clear that we needed to consider a change to stabilize our budget as well as our administrative management.

We knew that we wanted the next program we piloted to meet the following goals: build a broadly useful collection, diversify our publisher list, improve cost stability and predictability, improve the percentage of the budget devoted to purchase, reduce barriers to access, and minimize the impact of a fluctuating title pool.

After evaluating eight different acquisition models and reviewing Alliance feedback, we decided to pilot Wiley Online Library’s “Usage Based Collection Management Model (UBCM).” With no automatic triggers and an agreed upon annual expenditure for fiscal year 2017, we will retain full control over title selection and use 100% of our committed funds towards purchases based on evidence of demand at the end of a 12-month discovery period. This model allows us to maintain broad access to Wiley content and to purchase titles with demonstrated use on a predictable budget.

Wiley e-book titles consistently demonstrate high usage across all of our member institutions. Regardless of the size and type of the Alliance’s libraries, they all use Wiley content via DDA and subscription. Wiley publishes a diverse range of titles spanning across the humanities, social sciences, and STEM at a variety of audience levels, ensuring optimal applicability for our member libraries. Wiley’s proposal to the Alliance stipulates a fixed budget for access to 18,000 Wiley titles. The Wiley Online Library platform also provides a familiar interface to those libraries already participating in Wiley’s journal subscription package.

By working directly with Wiley, the Alliance can redirect funds from DDA that would have been spent on Wiley content and receive access to more content at a lower cost with increased sharing rights.

Additionally, Wiley’s complimentary Quarterly Enhanced Usage Reports that identify usage patterns and demand trends will alleviate the burden on librarians to manually collect and analyze data to make purchasing decisions. With this available data and freedom from automatic triggers, we can carefully select purchases at the end of the fiscal year.

In the spirit of transparency, we will be sharing our experiences with this pilot throughout the next year.

If you’d like to learn more about the Orbis Cascade Alliance’s approach to e-book acquisitions, view the slides from this year’s Charleston Library Conference: From DDA to EBA: A Five-year Story from a Consortium Shared E-Book Collection.

And, click here to learn more about Wiley’s Usage Based Collection Management Model.

Kathi Fountain is Program Manager for electronic resources, consortial e-books, and shared collections at the Orbis Cascade Alliance.

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