Saturday, March 18, 2017

Comparing print and ebooks for collection development purposes

Kathy Faubion
Haugh, D. (2016). How do you like your books: Print or digital? An analysis on print and e-book usage at the graduate school of education. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 28, 254-268. doi:10.1080/1941126X.2016.1243868
Descriptive Summary: This study was done to evaluate digital resources in a graduate academic library. As the amount of print materials purchased are decreasing and access to digital subscriptions is increasing, it is important to know what users want and will use. The study finds that both print and digital are still relevant. Libraries don’t need to have physical materials on all topics anymore, but they do need to make sure that access to electronic materials is reliable and accurate. Ebook use is also increasing in academic settings, though more slowly than database use. However, the study seeks to find how much and how well the growing digital collection is used. For budgetary purposes, it is important that no resource is superfluous. The study compares print and digital ebooks: How often they check out and how much they cost. The study notes that the user wants information on-demand, and electronic materials are always accessible and easily searched. However, drawbacks to ebooks include how many copy licenses can be purchased and how many concurrent users are allowed. The question to be answered is not how much digital access is offered in a purchased package, but how much digital access is being used by the patrons? The study concludes that digital additions should be patron-driven. If a resource is not used often by patrons, then it will be cheaper to keep a print copy over paying for digital access. If the resource is used frequently and concurrently, then it may be more cost-effective to purchase digital copies so long as the turn away rate isn’t too high. The study says a careful comparison of patron usage of print vs. digital is needed to be sure that budgets are being allocated efficiently for each format.

Evaluation: After reading this study, I would like to see something similar done in my public library.  We have the usage statistics, but a direct comparison of how much print and digital are used would help with efficient materials budget allocation.

Keywords: collection development, ebooks, books in print, digital acquisitions, materials budgeting

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