My penultimate post from last week's Off Campus Library Services Conference. Ellen Safley took us on a tour of her institution's exploration of E-book usage. Apparently there will be four new ebook appliances on the market in 06/07:
- iRex Technologies (Philips Electronics)
- Jinke (China)
- Polymer Vision (Philips spin-off)
- Plastic Logic (UK)
One or more of these promise to use a USB port to add titles from a computer—any PDF file - wouldn't that be nice? I'll believe it when I see it :-)
NetLibrary was one of the first purchases, and UTD librarians expressed the usual complaints about passwords, one simultaneous user only, one page printing, and limited copy/paste.
Next up was ebrary, which has a subscription model, no selection needed, more generous printing, no passwords. UTD librarians feel the ebrary supplied bib records have “issues”, and they note that ebrary passes off journal issues as e-books. But the best quote of the conference was from Ellen, who noted that “In all my years as a reference librarian, I’ve never had a patron complain that ‘I don’t like the quality of your bib record!’”
They also looked at Safari TechBooks the History Ebook project, and something called EBL. With EBL, titles are handpicked, good statistical package, bib records from OCLC, reserve module, Service Fee, 325 uses each year – when you reach the limit, you need another copy.
Helen offered the following essentials when examining ebook products:
- Always do a trial
- Cataloging is essential for use
- Using the collection search engine is great, but knowing the individual titles is required
- Check out if records are available and try to broker them as part of the deal…then beware. All records are not equal
- Loading programs are essential for getting print with online titles together…we want the two formats on the same record
- Check out the statistical packages
It was interesting to note that while UTD librarians reported that lots of people didn't like NetLibrary, it has shown a steady increase in usage since 1999, and Ellen suggested that librarian perceptions were muddying the picture. Since they often dealt with the password and printing problems with NetLibrary, they assumed the product was no good and nobody liked it, but the statistics suggest otherwise.
Similarly, ebarary statistics showed a 129% increase from year 1 to year 2.
Ellen notes that it's impossible to directly compare use of ebooks with print, (How did they use each format? Did they open the book? Checkouts do not always equate to use. How long are students using each ebook? Reading vs Factual Information.) we do know the rate is increasing!!! As an illustration, she showed a slide that the top-circulating ebook was "checked out" 47 times in a month, and the top print book was 1.4 times.
And now for the payoff - the impact of ebooks on distance learning:
- We are now providing true deliverables for customers needing monographs.
- Usage is exploding--Similar to the e-journal usage 5 years ago.
- Most collections of e-books are searchable within the collection and within the volume. Very handy!
- Are most students now distance learners? They are at UT-Dallas. Gate counts ↓8%/yr
Ellen's ppt is available here.