By Michael Arthur
The migration toward e-books has meant many changes for librarians focused on collection development and acquisitions. The market is booming as publishers move toward offering all or nearly all titles in e-format, and librarians are working hard to stay on top of changes in publishing and procurement models.
Complete publisher packages, subject collections, title-by-title purchasing, demand driven, and evidence based models are among the most utilized methods by which libraries and their patrons are gaining access to e-books. Selecting purchasing models for e-books are challenging, because—as with any choice—both pros and cons exist.
Library budgets for one-time purchases seem to be flat at best, and this places more pressure on libraries to make sound decisions about how scarce dollars will be spent. Libraries are generally offered a lower cost per title when selecting packages over title-by-title purchasing. However, this often requires larger outlays of non-recurring funds and may result in the acquisition of titles that will be low use.
Gale recently announced a partnership with Springer that may be a good solution for librarians, who wish to be selective about acquiring high quality monographs on a title-by-title basis. Gale now offers nearly 3,000 Springer monographs on the Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL).
This new partnership means that librarians and library users can now acquire trusted academic works from a respected publisher while gaining the benefits of the GVRL platform. The platform will permit the complete conversion of content to both HTML and PDF, while also allowing the titles to be translated into other languages and for the text to be read out loud (through ReadSpeaker). The content can be shared via social media, copied and pasted into research papers, and integrated easily into LibGuides.
The purchase of Springer e-books on GVRL will allow users to gain unlimited usage, unlimited downloads, and the same DRM afforded with a direct purchase through Springer. This feature especially lends itself to classroom use, because it allows faculty to focus on the content rather than worry about licensing. Librarians, too, will be pleased that the usage data will come from Gale and will be COUNTER 4 compliant.
But what about MARC records? Those are available for all Springer titles through Gale. The biggest advantage of acquiring Springer titles through the Gale platform may be the ability to seamlessly access both reference and monograph collections in one place, thus allowing users to transition back and forth and explore background information on new topics while pursuing more in-depth research.
Faculty and students at The University of Central Florida (UCF) definitely make use of Springer and Gale products. In 2010, UCF Libraries purchased the Complete Springer Ebook package for 2005-2009, and those collections have been updated through the 2014 imprints. UCF also has major Gale products including Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Nineteenth Century Collections Online, and Sabin Americana. The UCF Library has been pleased with the usage and usability of both Gale and Springer products. In fact, the initial Springer e-book package and Eighteenth Century Collections Online were purchased with technology fee funds that were approved by the student committee in charge of allocating funding.
Faculty and students at UCF have access to nearly 8,700 Springer titles. These titles are arranged in 15 subject collections. The 20 highest used titles were downloaded 6,587 times in 2013. These titles were most likely being used in the classroom and thus meeting one of the goals of purchasing Springer e-books, offering a real-world example of the advantage in having unlimited simultaneous usage and almost no DRM issues to impede fair use for educational purposes.
As was stated earlier, libraries are overwhelmed with all of the purchasing models that result in e-books coming from a variety of publishers and via various selection methods. The primary way in which UCF has tried to prevent this problem is by running nearly all purchases through our monograph vendor. By doing so the vendor is able to match all e-books against the print approval plan and firm orders to ensure that duplication is minimized. Gale is able to afford this same option to libraries choosing to select Springer e-books on the GVRL platform.
Michael Arthur is Head of Acquisitions & Collection Services at the University of Central Florida. Michael received his Master of Library Science in 1999, from Indiana University. Michael is active in ALA and NASIG. Michael is pleased to be a member of the Library Advisory Boards for both Springer and Gale.