Category Archives: Academic Libraries

How today’s students find and use reference sources

Just in from Oxford University Press:

A new multinational survey, carried out by Oxford University Press, indicates  that 75% of university students surveyed rely on library-acquired reference content in their studies, in addition to using freely available resources. That figure increases to 92% among students surveyed in the US and UK.

Paths to Reference: How today’s students find and use reference resources, a new white paper published by Oxford University Pressshows that for university students, reference works support a range of use cases, encompassing most aspects of independent study. Besides research, reference information supports students in class preparation, general reading, and studying for exams. Furthermore, while students generally rely on free resources for brief, factual information, a majority of students rely on their library for in-depth background information.

Continue reading How today’s students find and use reference sources

Let It Go: Automating Collection Development to Enable Librarian/Patron Collaboration

By Peyton Stafford, with Mirela Roncevic

As library personnel budgets are cut or held steady, and while the number of scholarly and scientific monographs increases from year to year, academic librarians need to find ways to discover and acquire relevant monographs more efficiently. To make the situation more complex, the research and information management skills of these librarians are often needed throughout the university, not only to assist students and faculty in research, but to create and manage information workflows that will streamline the research process so that researchers can focus on making new discoveries rather than on managing a multitude of documents and files across multiple platforms. This requires librarians to learn new skills, as well as to spend most of their time away from collection management tasks.

This article presents brief case studies based upon conversations with and published papers by working collection development librarians at universities of various sizes that have recently been actively engaged in reevaluating and restructuring their monographic discovery and acquisition processes and workflows, while describing the strategies they have found most successful for themselves as they replace firm ordering with more automated methods, thus freeing librarians for higher level, non-routine work.

Central to all of these strategies, the profiled Approval Plan (AP), in several manifestations, assures that the library receives the books it needs while librarians spend as little time as possible on selection duties. Continue reading Let It Go: Automating Collection Development to Enable Librarian/Patron Collaboration

Light, Sound, and the Speed of the Mind

Reading philosophy, including its essential byway of political theory, requires a kind of patience that demands readers monitor their own capacity as much as the author’s path making. As an undergraduate, I learned that some philosophical texts were best consumed if I read them aloud, a discovery that certainly helped me in graduate school while horrifying some of my fellow students there.

Across most of adulthood, however, my reading of both classical and contemporary philosophy texts has been silently tracked with my eyes. Of course, the going is more slow than when my eyes track murder mysteries in print or even works about biology, behavioral psychology, or history. A rubric of good journalism is its transparency so reading the news happens, for me, at something akin to the speed of light.

However, recent audiobook publishing of mid- and late-twentieth century Western philosophy texts has given me the opportunity to discover—and this time with expert narrators in the driver’s seat—that ears, rather than eyes, are the preferred conduit for taking in sentences in which a variety of dependent clauses, and their order, require careful tracking. Discovering the variety of interpretative performance styles audiobook narrators are bringing to philosophical texts has also led to an eye-opening time. Some present the text in almost casual tones, pacing the reading as though they were chatting with the audience, or performing a literary novel in which word choice and phrasing counts but the emotional inflections do as well. Others assume a kind of lecture pacing, with halts as though they themselves are considering the passage just presented, or rushing ahead when the text doesn’t seem to serve a purpose other than as a bridge to their own next a-ha moment.

One very recent listen brought a variety of insights about differences in eye-reading and ear-reading, however. Hannah Arendt’s 1963 On Revolution is narrated by the Audio Publishers Association’s 2017 Best Female Narrator, Tavia Gilbert, whose voice work can be heard in a variety of genres from science fiction to thriller to romance, and audiobooks for very young listeners, reads this one at a speed that frightened me for all of the first two minutes—and then I realized that she had accurately tapped Arendt’s own speed of thought rather than her speaking pace (which, in her native German, can be heard here). Famous for her long sentences (which her friend author Mary McCarthy would prune ahead of final editing), Arendt required them in order to crystalize the prism of any one of her speculations, assertions, or analyses. And Gilbert, for her part, re-animates that speedy thought process by delivering aloud sentences that might take the eye-reader two or three goes to absorb.

This new spate of audiobook publishing is most welcome, as long as it hews to the high standard of interpreting the author’s expressive pace. Gilbert has set the mark.

VitalSource and Al Manhal collaborate to bring digital content from over 450 publishers to learners in the Middle East

From Vital Source:

VitalSource®, the world leader in building, enhancing and delivering digital course materials, and Al Manhal, the leading publisher of full-text searchable electronic databases of scholarly, professional and peer-reviewed content from the Arab World, are now collaborating to expand the reach and delivery of Al Manhal’s unique content collection from over 450 Arabic language publishers.

By working together, Al Manhal’s expansive collection will now be deliverable through VitalSource Bookshelf®, the most widely used higher education digital-content platform in the world. Continue reading VitalSource and Al Manhal collaborate to bring digital content from over 450 publishers to learners in the Middle East

EBSCO and William S. Hein & Co. partnership brings historical and government-related information to researchers

Just in from EBSCO:

Five HeinOnline Databases Will Be Accessible via EBSCOhost® and
EBSCO Discovery Service

EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) and William S. Hein & Co., Inc. (HeinOnline), the world’s largest image-based legal and historical document research database, announce the availability of five HeinOnline databases on EBSCOhost® and EBSCO Discovery Service. The arrangement brings one of the richest and most comprehensive collections of historical and government–related information to researchers in academic and public libraries.

The HeinOnline databases provide unique coverage of legal history and government documents, making them a valuable resource for government, politics and law curricula. These resources provide a vast array of content including books, government documents, constitutions and treaties. HeinOnline databases feature works from some of the greatest minds in legal history, as well as a robust collection of Congressional documents, including comprehensive coverage of the Congressional Record, more than 60,000 hearings, thousands of House and Senate Reports, CRS reports, committee prints, and much more. Additionally, comprehensive coverage of both the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations is available. Continue reading EBSCO and William S. Hein & Co. partnership brings historical and government-related information to researchers

Credo introduces ‘Real-time Reference” within search results to combat fake news

Just in from Credo:

Credo Reference – the industry leader for information literacy, critical thinking, and research solutions – is introducing a “Real-time Reference” category within search results to help students easily identify reliable sources on current issues of importance. In addition to enabling researchers to find timely and accurate reference content relating to current events and controversial topics, Credo is announcing a partnership with ProCon.org to make its Debate Topics available within Credo’s Core Collections.

In an era where news may be fake and the number of sources available are overwhelming, the ability to navigate information online is increasingly vital to both the research process, as well as each individual’s understanding of the world around them. ProCon.org’s carefully curated arguments and background context are compiled from multiple viewpoints, reliable sources, and key experts in a diverse array of topics influencing today’s society. Continue reading Credo introduces ‘Real-time Reference” within search results to combat fake news

ProQuest Dissertations Now Discoverable in Google Scholar

From ProQuest:

Following the indexing of millions of scholarly articles in Google Scholar in 2015, ProQuest and Google are expanding their collaboration by indexing almost half a million full text dissertations from the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database (PQDT), the leading source of emerging research from the world’s great universities.

Google Scholar users can now seamlessly discover and access this set of full text dissertations in their libraries’ subscription collections. The user experience is improved and libraries benefit from increased usage for their content investment.

“Dissertations are excellent sources for finding emerging research and new voices,” said Allan Lu, Vice President Research Tools, Services and Platforms. “ProQuest has curated this content over decades and we’re continually looking for ways to simplify its discovery and access.” Continue reading ProQuest Dissertations Now Discoverable in Google Scholar

De Gruyter launches Science Discoveries, science news site to feature information based on published research

De Gruyter has recently launched Science Discoveries, an international science news site focused on research advancements in medicine, health, environment and technology. The site features selected research published in De Gruyter journals.

From the press release:

Publishing article highlights as well as multimedia content several times a week, Science Discoveries aims to showcase peer-reviewed scientific research in a context that helps scientific advancements reach a wider audience, not only academics and professionals, but also general science enthusiasts.

Featured research currently available includes an article on the devastating effect natural disasters have on pets and livestock from the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (JHSEM), a contribution on insect silk and its medical application from the Journal of Biosciences, and an article entitled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” on human aggression from the journal NeuroForum. Continue reading De Gruyter launches Science Discoveries, science news site to feature information based on published research

University of Pretoria in South Africa launches an app that provides one-click access to its library resources

Just in from Demco Software:

One of Africa’s top research institutions responds to increasing smartphone ownership with new Boopsie mobile app

South Africa currently has the highest smartphone ownership of the countries on the African continent [1], and sales of mobile devices in this region are expected to increase over the next decade [2]. In response to this trend, the Department of Library Services (DLS) at the University of Pretoria has launched a customized app that provides one-click access to its library’s assets, empowering researchers to use resources and services when and where they need them.

Fully hosted and maintained by Demco Software, the University of Pretoria’s Boopsie mobile app will feature custom branding on a user-friendly interface, facilitating seamless access to authoritative content from trusted aggregators and publishers. A modifiable banner will increase visibility of key resources, and unique features will expand access to the library. Key among these are Ask a Librarian, Catalog Search, Subject Guides, Library Locator, Location and Hours, and social media integration. Continue reading University of Pretoria in South Africa launches an app that provides one-click access to its library resources

Canadian libraries and academic institutions join forces to give access to sources exploring Canada’s history

Institutions across Canada can now benefit from full access to Frontier Life: Borderlands Settlement and Colonial Encounters, a digital collection of primary sources offering a glimpse into Canada’s historic past.

Consortia Canada, Adam Matthew and 18 leading academic institutions have collaborated to open this content to libraries and educational institutions across Canada, including all library types: public, post-secondary, special, archives, museums and K-12 schools. The collaboration unlocks important primary sources to provide the broader community with a comparative view on the various colonial frontiers across the globe. Continue reading Canadian libraries and academic institutions join forces to give access to sources exploring Canada’s history

NSR releases its summer 2017 journal issue — Ebook Purchasing in Academic Libraries: Key Issues and Emerging Trends

While the LIS industry has made great strides in improving how ebooks function in libraries the past few years, as any librarian in charge of ebook collection development can attest, ebooks are not always easier to manage than print books. They can, in fact, be more challenging. Many factors come into play and long gone are the days when librarians only needed to order particular titles based on interest or need communicated to them in advance by faculty or researchers.

In 2017, the universe of ebooks and econtent continues to grow at a dizzying rate, making it very challenging to keep up on a title-by-title basis; shrinking budgets and staff reductions have become the norm even in affluent institutions; and to remain competitive research institutions must rely on current scholarship that is constantly refreshed and available to them without restriction.

LIS journals that cover ebooks are overflowing with articles asking the same questions time and again: Can my library afford the new product or service? Will a particular method help streamline workflow? How much high-quality content is readily available? How much will my library be able to own in perpetuity? What will happen if my library doesn’t renew a subscription to a product that no longer serves its needs? Will the library have clear insight into patron usage? How well will the new product integrate into the library’s existing catalog? And, not to be overlooked: who is the content provider and what is its credibility in the library market?

This series of articles aims to elucidate some of the ebook challenges librarians in academic institutions (of all sizes) have had to grapple with in recent years in their ongoing efforts to support research. The goal here is to discuss key issues surrounding ebook purchasing and clarify some misconceptions that still persist within the industry, not only about the nature of ebooks (as explained by Frederick) but, more important, about the ebook business models offered to libraries. These models continue to evolve, of course, as librarians, publishers, and aggregators adjust their expectations and learn from experience.

Read or download the full issue of No Shelf Required’s journal on Ebook Purchasing in Academic Libraries: Key Issues and Emerging Trends here.

Europe Announces That All Scientific Papers Should Be Free by 2020

This week was a revolutionary week in the sciences – not because we discovered a new fundamental particle or had a new breakthrough in quantum computing – but because some of the most prominent world leaders announced an initiative which asserts that European scientific papers should be made freely available to all by 2020.

This would legally only impact research supported by public and public-private funds, which are a vast portion of the papers produced annually; however, the goal is to make all science freely available.

Read the rest of the story here.

Key Issues Surrounding Ebook Purchasing in Academic Libraries

In an ongoing effort to cover the ebook market and its complexities, No Shelf Required has recently embarked on a mission to bring to light some of the pressing ebook issues faced by academic libraries today, clear up confusion where needed, and examine short-term and long-term benefits as well as drawbacks of the most prevalent purchasing methods and models. These are the three articles in the series so far.

Demand-Driven Acquisitions: Do Library Patrons Get What They Need?

“The last few years have seen a steady proliferation of business models used for selling and acquiring ebooks by libraries, each with a unique set of benefits and challenges, but no other model has held as much promise to give patrons what they needed—at the moment they needed it—as Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA), also known as Patron-Driven Acquisitions (PDA). This is because at its core, DDA places the user (the patron), not the librarian or the publisher, in the driver seat. For the first time in the history of institutional book buying, patrons decide, for a portion of titles, what the library collects, leaving publishers and vendors without the predictability they enjoyed for many decades before ebooks came around.”

Read full article here.


The Approval Plan: A Sorting Hat That Discovers the Right Books for the Right Libraries

“Has the Approval Plan stood the test of time, many now ask, as some libraries move away from buying to own to embrace the access-based services. Does the complex process of profiling (books and libraries), which stands at the core of Approval Plans, still make sense in the age of advanced technologies that track user activities in order to provide proof of what is needed without guess-work or prediction? Does the emphasis on thoughtful curation rather than on the immediate—and perhaps momentary—demand of the user put libraries at risk of developing collections that won’t be used?

Not only has the Approval Plan stood the test of time as a highly effective book buying tool—especially with the integration of ebooks—it has evolved with libraries consistently and to the point where it may not even be appropriate anymore to consider it a ‘traditional’ method. In fact, there are more Approval Plans running in academic libraries today than ever before. How is it possible, one wonders, that a method used to support buying scholarly books for over half a century continues to adapt so well to new technologies and not appear outdated?”

Read full article here.


Ebook Collections: What’s the Deal with Big Deals?

“If purchasing e-journals through big packages (so-called Big Deals) has become the norm, has it also become the norm with ebooks? What are the benefits of purchasing from aggregators as opposed to purchasing directly from publishers? What type of content do eCollections entail and how relevant is that content to today’s researchers? And what are some of the challenges faced by libraries purchasing eCollections? As we’ve seen with DDA and Approval Plans, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for any ebook model or any library—however big or small, affluent or modest—and the better we understand the possibilities afforded to libraries through packaged vs. title-by-title deals, the closer we get to an understanding that eCollections hold a significant place in ebook collection development and have, indeed, become a new version of ‘big deals’ in academic libraries.”

Read full article here.

Ebook Collections: What’s the deal with Big Deals?

In our analysis of the ebook buying methods in academic libraries, we’ve examined thus far the unexpected effects of Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA), a model that showed promise at its inception but eventually led librarians and publishers to question its long-term sustainability, and we’ve cleared up some confusion surrounding the Approval Plan and explained why it remains as effective for purchasing digital books as for print. If we take a closer look at these two tools for acquiring content—the former a radical departure from traditional curation-based methods of buying that places the user and his/her activity at the center of buying, and the latter a decades-old method that has stood the test of time and evolved to support new technology and new methods (including DDA)—we discover that they share one key feature: both are centered around ‘title-by-title’ purchasing. Both invite and encourage a focus on individual titles, which are ‘picked’ or ‘chosen’ for purchase either automatically based on a set of pre-determined parameters or based on usage.

This begs the question: what about the packaged collections? What about the collections of ebooks sold to libraries in bulk? What benefits and challenges await libraries choosing to bypass the process of selecting individual titles (at least to some degree, if not entirely) and welcome packaged deals? Has the availability of ebook collections (hereafter referred to as eCollections) enhanced and/or improved collection development practices in academic libraries? On the heels of recent announcements that some libraries across North America are canceling their Big Deal e-journal packages—citing inability to keep up with the rising cost of subscriptions and insufficient use of old journals that make up a large portion of those collections—it seems fitting and necessary to examine how eCollections perform as part of libraries’ acquisitions strategy in a rapidly changing ebook market. Continue reading Ebook Collections: What’s the deal with Big Deals?

The Approval Plan: A Sorting Hat That Discovers the Right Books for the Right Libraries

At a time when academic libraries are investing more time and resources experimenting with models that place user demands at the center of library acquisitions (via such models as DDA), there seems to be confusion and misunderstanding about which methods compete and why. Publishers and libraries spent a significant amount of time pitting the print book against the ebook in the early years of digital reading—at the time very few were pointing out that there was no real competition between the two formats to begin with, at least not to the extent that one should cancel out the other. Similarly, librarians have been tempted to decipher the maze of book and ebook buying models as a zero-sum game, i.e., that some models must clearly stand in opposition to others.

While it could be argued that some ebook models do, indeed, encourage ownership while others encourage access (making it easy to distinguish between purchasing and subscribing to provide access), or that some models encourage purchase of a whole book while others ask for micro-transaction payments based on use, such arguments become problematic when applied to methods of discovering and acquiring content that were intentionally designed to adapt to the changing needs of libraries over time rather than to compete with new models. Nowhere is this confusion more evident than in the case of the Approval Plan—the many decades-old method that thousands of academic libraries around the world use to discover and acquire scholarly books.

Has the Approval Plan stood the test of time, many now ask, as some libraries move away from buying to own to embrace the access-based services. Does the complex process of profiling (books and libraries), which stands at the core of Approval Plans, still make sense in the age of advanced technologies that track user activities in order to provide proof of what is needed without guess-work or prediction? Does the emphasis on thoughtful curation rather than on the immediate—and perhaps momentary—demand of the user put libraries at risk of developing collections that won’t be used? Not only has the Approval Plan stood the test of time as a highly effective book buying tool—especially with the integration of ebooks—it has evolved with libraries consistently and to the point where it may not even be appropriate anymore to consider it a ‘traditional’ method. In fact, there are more Approval Plans running in academic libraries today than ever before. How is it possible, one wonders, that a method used to support buying scholarly books for over half a century continues to adapt so well to new technologies and not appear outdated? Continue reading The Approval Plan: A Sorting Hat That Discovers the Right Books for the Right Libraries

ProQuest’s mission to keep up with the high and growing demand for Chinese-language content

According to a press release, ProQuest recently surveyed academic librarians about their needs regarding non-English language content. The results demonstrate a strong interest in making Chinese-language content available to address the needs of researchers:

  • 47% of respondents purchase Chinese-language content.
  • Nearly 30% say Chinese-language content is among users’ most requested non-English language content
  • 24% say they are not adequately supporting patrons’ needs for Chinese-language content.
  • When asked what non-English digital format resources they would like to offer, 30% said frontlist ebooks and 25% said backlist ebooks.

From the same press release:

ProQuest is collaborating with Asian Studies scholars, librarians and Chinese-language publishers to offer a selection of Chinese- language ebooks, enabling libraries to provide resources demanded by researchers. The growing collection spans thousands of titles available on the Ebook Central®, ebrary® and EBL platforms. The platforms’ multi-language interfaces accommodate readers of traditional and simplified Chinese, and other languages. Continue reading ProQuest’s mission to keep up with the high and growing demand for Chinese-language content

In time for Women’s History month, Gale releases Women’s Studies Archive

Gale has just announced the first collection in its new Women’s Studies Archive. The archive is the third offering in an effort to publish material that supports diversity studies and provides historical context around current topics. This archive follows recentl launches of Gale’s Archives of Sexuality and Gender (the largest digital archive of LGBTQ History and Culture) and the American Civil Liberties Union Papers (ACLU).

Women’s Studies Archive: Women’s Issues and Identities traces the path of women’s issues from past to present—pulling primary sources from manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, and more. It captures the foundation of women’s movements, struggles and triumphs.

Full press release below.


As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Gale, a Cengage company, has launched a new archive on women’s studies that explores the many contributions of women throughout history.  Part of the growing Gale Primary Sources program, the Women’s Studies Archive represents Gale’s focus on publishing material that supports diversity studies and provides historical context around current topics. Continue reading In time for Women’s History month, Gale releases Women’s Studies Archive

University Press Scholarship Online continues to grow, Princeton and University of Illinois now on board as partner presses

Oxford University Press (OUP) has just announced the addition of two new partner presses to its growing University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO) platform: University of Illinois Press and Princeton University Press. 

The University of Illinois Press will go live on UPSO in April 2017. Illinois Scholarship Online site will launch with 350 titles across a range of subject areas including sociology, music, history, society and culture, film television & radio, and literature.

Princeton University Press will be joining UPSO in October 2017.  The Princeton Scholarship Online site will go live with over 400 titles across the humanities and sciences with strengths in Biology, Classics, Economics, History, Literature, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, and Sociology.

Comprising over 23,000 titles in 31 subject areas, UPSO is available to university libraries around the world. Participating presses include, among many others, OUP, British Academy, Chicago University, Cornell, Fordham, MIT, NYU, Stanford, and Yale.

SAGE Video grows with two new collections: Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice

SAGE Publishing has announced that it has expanded SAGE Video, its library of streaming videos across the social sciences, to include two new collections: Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice. Hosted on SAGE Knowledge platform and designed to enhance research, teaching, and learning at all levels, the new collections contain 115 hours+ of streaming video content each, more than 65% of which is exclusive to SAGE.

SAGE Video collections are developed in partnership with academics, societies and practitioners, including many of SAGE’s own authors and academic partners to provide cutting-edge teaching and research-oriented video.

For more information, visit the SAGE Video information page or visit the SAGE Video platform directly. Sign up for a trial of SAGE Video here. Continue reading SAGE Video grows with two new collections: Sociology and Criminology & Criminal Justice

More ebook choices for OASIS users

OasisProQuest has just announced it has joined forces with De Gruyter to make De Gruyter’s 26,000 ebooks (from over 15 international imprints) available for purchase through the OASIS® system. This prompted us to revisit OASIS—ProQuest’s free web-based system for searching, selecting, and ordering print and electronic books for academic libraries—and provide a quick update on its growth.

Indended for academic, corporate, and government libraries, OASIS (Online Acquisitions and Selection Information System) supports multiple ordering and selection workflows for print and ebooks, including approval plans, firm orders, standing orders, demand driven acquisition, EDI ordering and MARC ordering. It now provides libraries with access to over 1.5 million unique ebook titles and 25 million print titles. Continue reading More ebook choices for OASIS users