The relationship between the University of Nottingham Library and ProQuest wasn’t a new one when the institution started to investigate options for implementing Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA).
Jennifer Hill, Senior Library Adviser in Resource Acquisitions, said that her university had used the ProQuest Academic Complete ebook collection for years, which has had “phenomenal usage from our campuses in the UK and China and Malaysia.”
Additionally, she continued, “We purchase one-by-one titles from a number of aggregators including Ebook Central and MyiLibrary, titles that are recommended by our academics or librarians.”
So, in 2011, when the library’s first foray into DDA proved less than ideal (allotted funds were eaten up quickly and the vendor’s interface was “problematic”) they knew where to turn.
After brushing themselves off and deciding to give DDA another try, the Nottingham library team found a better fit with ProQuest, the company behind the innovative Ebook Central platform.
“The DDA mechanisms available [from ProQuest] allowed us to control spend, and we were able to better refine the selection of titles made available to our users,” said Hill. “The platform has worked well both for our users and backroom staff.”
One of the greatest benefits of Ebook Central’s DDA program, according to Hill, is that it gives users the chance to browse and evaluate a book, before any budget is committed: “We all know that sometimes a title that seems like just what you need actually turns out not to be what you wanted at all!”
Among the other features that captured the attention of Nottingham library staff, Hill mentioned the “flexibility [DDA] offers us in being able to edit the messages seen on the interface instantly, the ease of responding to mediated requests, the ability to change options at any time, and the ability to get live usage and expenditure.”
But according to Hill, the most compelling feature is the way the library can track DDA usage among departments: “The Patron Analytics tool in the Ebook Central interface allows us to identify which departments are making use of DDA and what percentage of users are undergraduates, post graduates or researchers.”
For librarians considering DDA, Hill recommends “getting your profile right in the first place and taking some time to consider what is most beneficial for your users to have access to, depending on the subjects you are making provision for.”
At Nottingham, DDA enables the library to provide access to a custom-curated collection of 740,000 ebooks, chosen according to the needs of its users. Management of this process is simplified via a rich library profile that defines what ebooks are available to patrons through the use of inclusion and exclusion criteria, such as subject, publisher, publication date, author, pricing, and more. The profile helps to restrict options to ebooks that are suitable for the library, and can be adjusted according to changing needs at any time.
“Basically the more time we put into setting up DDA,” Hill explained, “the more effective it has been. And if you get it right once, you may not need to do it again!”
Hill noted “excellent usage of DDA, mostly in the form of loans with some ebook titles being auto-purchased after multiple uses, and therefore being added to our permanent collection. This means that our DDA budget is definitely going further than it did back in 2012.”
And she expects this trend to continue.
As of 2016, Nottingham library is into its first year of DDA as a “part of ‘normal business’ and we expect to continue as long as our budget allows, along with the purchase of titles for reading lists, research and collection development.”
Hill explained that Ebook Central’s innovative Access-to-Own (ATO) model, “may further change the way we manage our budgets and ebook purchasing strategy.” ATO applies spending on loans toward perpetual purchases, so libraries are able to grow the ebook collections they own, rather than just spending funds on access.
Hill describes DDA as well liked by her department’s Senior Management team as well as University executives “who believe it is an excellent way of meeting student needs and that it fits perfectly with our strategic plans.”
Learn more about Ebook Central and Demand-Driven Acquisition.
Image: By Barry Mangham (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons