E-book pilot project: one academic library's perspective
Diane Baden, Head of Monographic Services at Boston College's O'Neill Library,spoke recently at the "Cataloging Efficiencies that Make a Difference" event at Harvard University's Gutman Library. Her presentation titled, Piloting E-Books Why, How, Who, and other Questions, hinted that her presentation would leave participants with more questions than answers. Diane covered the O'Neil Library's pilot e-book project that was strategically funded to study the effects of incorporating e-books into their collection. What they eventually tested during the pilot included purchasing individual titles through GOBI and packages with some major publishers, using trials to assess e-books, using patron-driven acquisition (PDA) through ebrary, and digital-driven acquisition (DDA) through YBP. As the pilot progressed, they learned that this is a market in the state of flux, and libraries and vendors are learning from each other as the market develops. And, libraries owe it to vendors to offer guidance on good practices for this developing market.
At the end of the pilot, several issues hadn't been resolved including a collection development policy, budget allocations, and digital rights management. In the next year assessment will be a key goal for the task force. At this point, it's not clear who's using their e-book collections and why and, like with serials packages, whether a package is a good value versus one-off purchasing.
As for cataloging staff, the long-term implications of purchasing fewer materials could bode well for them, allowing them time to perform functions that have been neglected in the past. At the same time, new job functions may require continuing education/training.