Category Archives: Academia

Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here?

 

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In this week’s opinion piece, Michael Zeoli (of YBP Library Services) takes a close look at how collection development practices have evolved in academic libraries in recent years, especially since the advent of the ebook and proliferation of digital content. Regardless of how familiar book professionals are with complex purchasing models in academic settings, it is important that we understand how we ‘got here’ before we can understand how best to move forward. We also must acknowledge that we all willingly participated in the creation of complex business models for buying and managing content. We must now all participate in simplifying them. The reality is, as Michael explains, that the academic library book world is shrinking, even as more content is created and new technologies are implemented. This raises serious questions about the future of the academic library and the roles we all play in shaping it. Perhaps the most important sentence in the piece is: “All parts of our ecosystem have an active role to play; none should act out of fear and remain passive.” Full article below. —Ed.


Academic library staff has been shrinking for 2 decades, while the quantity of scholarly content has grown exponentially.  In the 1960s Richard Abel & Company began the Approval Plan service as a systematic approach to help libraries manage the volume of new books published.  Libraries rely on vendor services (i.e., companies catering to libraries) to discover and acquire much of scholarly content.  Since the 90s, libraries have also depended on vendors to provide shelf-ready services for print books, customized cataloging, to manage financial transactions electronically, and to maintain online interfaces to support collection development and acquisitions processes.  Ebooks brought another layer of labor and complexity to library workflows.

Ebooks elbowing their way into the landscape

Within a decade of their birth, ebook aggregators entered mainstream library collecting.  Initially, the ebook appeared as just another format or manifestation of the print book; the library choice expanded beyond paper or cloth to include ‘e’ versions (in many cases PDFs).  Technology changed this: ebook models have upset the balance in traditional library collecting and continue to challenge traditional understandings not just of collection development, but of the role of the academic library.

The ebook aggregators’ business models exist outside the realm of print books – except as a distribution model on which to piggyback for just as long as necessary (think ‘the scorpion and frog’ fable).  The business of the aggregator is to sell ebooks, not books.  Aggregator ebook platforms are designed for this purpose.  Each is different from the others in design (technical as well as strategic):

  • User interface & experience
  • Library acquisition models
  • Library control of patron access
  • Publisher control over: 1) Library acquisition models; 2) License terms for each model; and 3)  ‘Triggers’ to purchase and loan (Patron-Driven Acquisitions – DDA / Short-Term Loan – STL / Evidence-Based Acquisitions – EBA)

‘Standards’ in the industry exist only to the degree necessary for one company to compete with another (‘not-for-profits’ are not exempted!).  Focus has been split 3 ways:

  • Competition to win market-share
  • Sustainable development of the market
  • Alternatives to ‘unsustainable models’

To a large extent, the futures of libraries and publishers live at the margins of these considerations.

Competition is driving complexity.  Beyond complexity, competition does not always favor clarity or transparency, even when possible.  Libraries and publishers struggle to gain full vision into some of the forces acting under the surface of a rapidly evolving landscape. Continue reading Academic libraries are shrinking, while content is growing. How did we get here?

Newly-released Gale Researcher supports critical thinking; enables faculty-librarian collaboration

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Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, has launched Gale Researcher, a new research platform and curriculum tool designed to help students connect to citable content aligned to introductory college courses. The Researcher enables librarians to customize and curate curriculum-aligned content to support student research. Below are the subject areas covered (and as described here):

Topics include coverage of the Puritan Tradition, Colonial Period, present day, and more.

Topics include Chaucer, Jane Austen, Dickens, and more.
Topics include the U.S. court system and structure, the history of the U.S. criminal justice system, police and law enforcement, and more.
Topics include econometrics and forecasting, labor economics, fiscal and monetary policy, and more.
Topics include the foundations of morality, appearance and reality, Plato, and more.
Topics include the U.S. Constitution, the culture of governance and politics, campaigns and elections, and more.
Topics include memory, gender and sexuality, cognitive elements, and more.
Topics include the origins of sociological thinking and perspective, social structures, the role of a family, and more.
Topics include the Revolutionary War, Slavery and the Old South, the Great Depression, and more.
Topics include coverage of historical development in ancient, medieval, and modern periods, and more.

 

Full press release below: Continue reading Newly-released Gale Researcher supports critical thinking; enables faculty-librarian collaboration

Gale launches American Fiction Archive, affirms its position as literary content leader

American Fiction GaleAn interesting new electronic resource has just been released by Gale: American Fiction, 1774-1920. This “new digital archive” in Gale Primary Sources program comprises over 17,500 works of literature, including novels, short stories, travel accounts, and sketches (“many of which have never before been available online”), all brought together to support research in U.S. history and literature.

Gale is no stranger to literature resources. Its other products include Literature Criticism Online, Literature Resource Center, and the well-known Dictionary of Literary Biography. Given the interdisciplinary nature of today’s research as well as the capabilities of today’s technologies, one can’t help but wish that at some point, in the-not-so-distant future all this wealth (and breadth) of literary content will eventually blend into one mega resource on all things American literature.

Pre-register for a trial here. Full press release below. Continue reading Gale launches American Fiction Archive, affirms its position as literary content leader

Abu Dhabi University Teams Up with Boopsie to Develop Mobile App

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Abu Dhabi University and Boopsie,  a platform-as-a-service provider, announced this week they have joined forces to develop an app for growing user demand for library mobile apps in Middle Eastern universities. According to the press release (below), 81% of mobile owners between the ages 16-34 now own smartphones in the Middle East.

Working closely with Abu Dhabi University, Boopsie developed a library-branded native mobile application that provides researchers with access to content from such aggregators and publishers as EBSCO and Elsevier. Continue reading Abu Dhabi University Teams Up with Boopsie to Develop Mobile App

Academic E-Books: Publishers, Librarians and Users

Suzanne M. Ward, Robert S. Freeman, and Judith M. Nixon are the editors of a forthcoming book from Purdue University Press. The description of the book is below.  I got a look at the pre-pub copy and it’s  full of useful information.  I was particularly interested in the chapters that focused on how ebooks are being used in academia.
Book Description from Purdue University Press site:

Academic E-Books: Publishers, Librarians, and Users provides readers with a view of the changing and emerging roles of electronic books in higher education. The three main sections contain contributions by experts in the publisher/vendor arena, as well as by librarians who report on both the challenges of offering and managing e-books and on the issues surrounding patron use of e-books. The case study section offers perspectives from seven different sizes and types of libraries whose librarians describe innovative and thought-provoking projects involving e-books. Continue reading Academic E-Books: Publishers, Librarians and Users

Knowledge Unlatched Announces Launch of Round 2 Collection

Following on from its highly successful Pilot concluded last year, Knowledge Unlatched is delighted to announce the launch of its second collection.

If at least 300 libraries from around the world pledge their commitment by 31 January 2016, 78 new Humanities and Social Sciences books will be made free for anyone in the world to read on
an Open Access basis. Continue reading Knowledge Unlatched Announces Launch of Round 2 Collection

Knowledge Unlatched Launches Round Two of Open Access Monographs

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We’re back by popular demand! We’re very excited about the prospects for scaling up. In this second round 25 publishers submitted 155 titles to a long list for the Round Two programme. This is double the number of publishers from our Pilot and trebles the number of title submissions. In addition to our 297 charter member librarians another 130 pre-registered their interest once the Pilot project closed at the end of last year.

The pledging period for the shortlist of 80 books (currently being selected by the Library Collections Task Force) will begin in October.

The above flyer we prepared for the June AAUP and ALA conferences on the differences between the first and second rounds. Many of the technical and workflow issues have been resolved. Nevertheless, there will be more to do after this second round. The community seems very willing to work with us to resolve these outstanding issues, which is terrific.

ProQuest Completes Acquisition of Coutts Information Services and MyiLibrary

ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 1, 2015 — ProQuest has completed the acquisition of Coutts Information Services and MyiLibrary from Ingram Content Group. ProQuest is beginning to integrate assets such as Coutts’ expertise in collection development, broad catalog of print and digital titles, and platforms that include not only MyiLibrary but OASIS as well. They are being added to ProQuest’s Books unit, which encompasses the widest selection of ebooks supporting research and a rapidly evolving technology framework for discovery, access and management of book content. ProQuest’s vision is to combine these collective strengths, creating an integrated workflow for print and digital content that will save librarians time and provide a superior book experience for end users.

Continue reading ProQuest Completes Acquisition of Coutts Information Services and MyiLibrary

Knowledge Unlatched releases use data on pilot collection

From the Knowledge Unlatched site:

Summary

In March 2014 Knowledge Unlatched started to unlatch books in its Pilot Collection, making them available to anyone in the world to read or download for free on a Creative Commons licence. This was the culmination of a behind-the-scenes process of loading the titles onto our partner host platforms: OAPEN and HathiTrust. The books became live on the OAPEN platform first – followed soon after by HathiTrust. The final book in the Pilot Collection was published and made OA on 2 September 2014.

You can view a list of Pilot Collection titles and download them via the KU collections website here.

OAPEN Statistics

The period covered by the data below is from 11 March 2014 to 31 March 2015. As well as the OAPEN statistics, which use COUNTER-compliant methodology to count each book download, the HathiTrust figures below count views per page. The KU Pilot Collection has also been uploaded to the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive’s website does not indicate a starting date to their reporting period.

ProQuest and Google collaborate with full text indexing

ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 24, 2015 – ProQuest will enable the full text of its scholarly journal content to be indexed in Google Scholar, improving research outcomes. Work is underway and the company anticipates that by the third-quarter of 2015, users starting their research in Google Scholar will be able to access scholarly content via ProQuest.

“At ProQuest, we design our solutions for ease of access for our end-users and customers. That often means teaming with other providers of research tools to make our solutions more valuable and compatible,” said Kurt Sanford, ProQuest CEO. “Our relationship with Google is the latest example of actions we’re taking to make it simple for researchers to access content in their libraries no matter where they start their research.” Continue reading ProQuest and Google collaborate with full text indexing