12  ·  Survey Results:  Executive Summary
Libraries are frustrated with the lack of standard
practice among providers of e-books. At the same
time, some librarians appear to be having more dif-
ficulty in adopting e-books than they had with e-jour-
nals. Several references were made to the electronic
journal model. For example, “Currently, we are very
frustrated in much of our e-book buying …We work
very hard to replicate the e-journal environment:
unlimited users, ability to ILL, ability to download
and print entire chapters if not more, and ownership
models without access fees.” The American Chemical
Society’s recent decision to downsize their print for-
mat signals clearly that e-journals are the norm; e-
books are far from that level of acceptance and seem
destined to repeat some of the growth pains libraries
coped with in adopting e-journals. Many libraries are
unprepared for the challenges in adopting, integrat-
ing, and maintaining e-books. An e-book strategy
will stretch and change libraries’ intrinsic thinking
about collections.
Collection Development Policies
The majority of respondents (82%) indicated there
is no specific mention of e-books in their Collection
Development policies. For many, this is because a
Collection Development policy is content driven. The
comments for this selection, though, indicate that li-
braries are either considering altering their policy or
adding layers of procedures to deal with selecting, ne-
gotiating, and acquiring e-books since they act neither
entirely like print books nor entirely like e-journals.
Some policies do recognize the changing e-book
field. The University of Alberta’s guidelines state,
“The electronic books environment is too unstable
and unpredictable for us to apply an all encompass-
ing policy.” The Electronic Resources collection de-
velopment policy of the Library of Congress states,
“Given the rapid evolution of electronic resources,
the Library will review the following guidelines an-
nually to ensure that the Library’s current and future
research needs are met.” (See pages 79 and 83 of the
Representative Documents section for these policies.)
Several libraries without specific e-book policies
indicated that they are in the process of developing
those. In addition to a draft e-book policy, McMaster
University has an appendix to its main Collection
Development policy to deal with electronic resourc-
es in general. Titled Selection Factors for Electronic
Products, this appendix addresses access and licens-
ing, product quality, technological characteristics, and
service support from the vendor, all issues that need
to be addressed for e-books.
A few libraries utilized task forces to develop poli-
cies, procedures, and in effect a new business model
for e-book selection, acquisition, and use with rep-
resentation from several library departments. Most
notable are those at the University of California, San
Diego, Harvard University, and the University at
Buffalo, SUNY. Buffalo has an E-Books Task Force
and an e-Reference Packages Task Force. Both of
these committees offer reports, training materials,
and recommendations.
The UCSD task force developed a “Product
Evaluation Criteria” check-list for determining e-
book vendor suitability. The series of questions and
preferences include “Do you allow ILL?” “Is a pro-
prietary reader or piece of software required to view
your eBooks?” “If you offer MARC records, are they
OCLC records?” and “Can users print portions of
the eBook?” with library preferences ranging from
none to deal-breaker. Rajiv Nariani of York University
has compiled a comparison table of content aggrega-
tors and publishers. (See “Web Links to Additional
Representative Documents” for both documents.)
Other libraries may have similar documents devel-
oped as internal guidelines for appropriate depart-
ments. Some libraries referenced the use of wikis or
other intranet sites accessible to library staff to provide
ongoing guidance, policy, and procedure updates.
On the question “Who selects e-books?” 70 of 72
respondents reported that any selector who selects
books can also choose individual e-book titles and 40
(of 73) reported that any selector who selects books
can also choose e-book collections. The comments
flesh out these responses in a way that indicates a
somewhat less straightforward line of responsibility
here. Collections of e-books, with their higher associ-
ated cost and sometimes ongoing commitments for
new content, appear to be treated more as electronic
resources in the decision-making process.
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