RPLD eBook Collection Management

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eSelection & Weeding

Below are some of the central concepts that will guide your choices as eBook Selector, some are drawn from existing written policy, others are a more informal explanation of current practice. RPLD expects that the eBook Selector will eventually be able to guide both policy and practice, under the supervision of management, in new and productive directions.

The Consortium

Currently, our patron access to ebooks is supplied by the vendor OverDrive Media, Inc. The main point of access to the collection is a secondary website, eMedia Library, linked to through the RPLD website, and through links provided in our catalog entries for ebooks. Most of the content on the eMedia Library site is shared between twenty-seven members of a consortium of which RPLD is a member.

The other member libraries are: Batavia Public Library, Bensenville Community Public Library, Carol Stream Public Library, Chicago Ridge Public Library, Coal City Public Library, Downers Grove Public Library, Fountaindale Public Library District, Franklin Park Public Library District, Geneva Public Library, Glen Ellyn Public Library, Helen Plum Library, Hinsdale Public Library, Indian Prairie Public Library District, Joliet Public Library, Lemont Public Library District, Lisle Library District, Matteson Public Library, Messenger Public Library, Oak Brook Public Library, O’Fallon Public Library, Poplar Creek Public Library District, Roselle Public Library District, St. Charles Illinois Public Library, Sugar Grove Public Library, Town & Country Public Library District, Warrenville Public Library District, Wheaton Public Library.

The content of the ebook collection is determined by a consortial collection development committee composed of a maximum of twelve members, one of whom currently is the RPLD Ebook Selector. The committee must always have at least four representatives from Youth Services (YS) departments, and although RPLD does not have a YS representative on the committee, you will liaise with the head of RPLD YS for that department’s acquisition requests.

All communication with the committee is conducted via e-mail with the exception of two annual meetings, the time and place of which are negotiated each year. You will be contacted by the head of the committee now that you have assumed your duties as RPLD eBook Selector.

Sources: RPLD internal communications; eMedia Library website

Selection Criteria & Guidelines

Current Practice

The current focus of our ebook acquisition is on best-sellers and other popular new titles, attempting to strike a balance between the various genres of fiction as well as non-fiction, young adult, and children’s titles. The consortium takes patron requests for acquisition seriously and makes every attempt to accommodate them. The committee has learned to be very adaptive to feedback, and priorities often shift according to data we receive about how the collection is being used by our patrons.

Budget

The acquisitions budget for the consortium is $87,000, which includes both ebooks and audiobooks. RPLD currently spends $3,000 acquiring ebook titles for the consortium, with an additional $3,000 budgeted to acquire copies of ebooks that are dedicated exclusively to our patrons, usually consisting of extra copies of the most popular titles, or a few unique acquisitions that may be of particular interest to our community.

Constraints

The reality of the current ebook marketplace is that OverDrive is not able to license all of the titles on our behalf that we would like. There are many publishers who simply will not sell ebooks to libraries, and others who place restrictions on our use of them. It is particularly puzzling to our patrons who wonder why we do not offer the same books in both physical and electronic formats, as they are unaware of the legal framework behind the scenes.

Although the specifics change in alarmingly rapid fashion, some current obstacles to acquisition include:

  • Simon & Schuster and MacMillan will not sell ebooks to libraries
  • Penguin recently removed access to their new titles
  • HarperCollins imposed a 26 checkout maximum for their titles
  • Publishers are arbitrarily raising prices on ebooks sold to libraries

The good news: OverDrive negotiates the licenses on our behalf, so much of the headache is theirs.

The bad news: As eBook Selector you will have to monitor the changing landscape closely, so that you can adjust your spending priorities accordingly.

Source: RPLD internal communications

RPLD Policy

Excerpted below are the portions of the RPLD Collection Management Policy that further articulate the selection guidelines and criteria for Adult Nonfiction and Fiction, which currently are the focus of the eBook Selector’s acquisitions. The policy was not written with ebooks in mind, and added notes are indicated in red.

The complete Collection Management Policy is located on the RPLD intranet here: RPLD Policies, Plans & Manuals. (Internal link only.)

Nonfiction

The nonfiction adult print collection contains items whose assertions and descriptions are generally understood to be factual. They may give information and may be about real things, people, events and places. This collection is intended for use by patrons age 12 and over and educational attainment through the community college level. The nonfiction book collection is catalogued according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Materials are purchased in hardcover or paperback format as well as occasionally audio format as in the case of foreign language instruction where the hearing of the item is paramount. Under the direction of the Executive Director, collection management, selection, evaluation and de-selection, is the responsibility of The Reference and Adult Services Department Head. The department head may delegate specific areas of responsibility to staff members. Selection criteria include positive reviews from noted reviewing journals such as Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. De-selection, or weeding criteria may include condition, lack of use and outdated material.

Although you will be closely supervised by the head of RASD, the eBook Selector is expected to help develop a written set of criteria that covers the collection management, selection, evaluation and de-selection of eBooks.

Fiction

Most bestselling fiction titles are purchased, with multiple copies added for patron reserves, and known author popularity. Novelty is an attraction in the science fiction genre and selectors need to be aware of popular culture indications. Unless requested by patrons or if they receive outstanding reviews, books of a more literary nature, and those by first-time or foreign authors, have little readership and are not commonly purchased. Replacement copies of important works of fiction which have been lost or worn are purchased regularly. Retrospectively, previous items written by newly-popular authors may be purchased, often in paperback format. Books in series are purchased when there is a demand, as evidenced by usage of earlier titles. The usual reviewing journals are used for reviews and patrons purchase requests are considered.

The basic guidelines articulated above are mostly still applicable to the selection of ebook fiction, although the language regarding replacement and lost or worn items is not. Instead the eBook Selector should focus on the legal framework that may limit access to specific titles when licenses change or expire.

Traditional Weeding

The Collection Management Policy of RPLD does not currently address weeding of ebooks. The excerpt below makes clear some of the thinking that guides de-selection of physical books.

The complete Collection Management Policy is located on the RPLD intranet here: RPLD Policies, Plans & Manuals. (Internal link only.)

VI. Withdrawal of Materials
In order to maintain a current and useful collection, worn and obsolete materials are continually withdrawn. The condition of materials, age, amount of use and space constraints shall be criteria for weeding. The library reserves the right to dispose of withdrawn items as it deems expedient.

A. Withdrawn materials in a suitable condition will be donated to the Friends of the Library for inclusion in their used book sales. Funds thus acquired are used to benefit the library.

B. Items which are very worn, or have no value for resale by the Friends of the Library will be discarded.

C. It is not possible to save specific items to give or sell to individual patrons when withdrawn.

eWeeding

So how then should we think about eweeding? Fortunately, weeding of the ebook collection is not necessary at the moment, as the collection is currently in a building phase rather than a reduction phase. But it is important to build a strategy to weed this collection in the future. RPLD must start to develop a sense of the criteria involved and articulate a rationale for eweeding at the policy level.

Some ideas to consider:

  • Retention of ebooks should be based on accuracy of information and relevance to the patron, as it is with physical books
  • eBooks should be considered in relation to other formats of the same work to understand the complete collection
  • We must balance the idea of an archival collection with a living, breathing collection
  • We must understand that virtual shelf clutter can obscure good content from bad
  • We must encourage vendors to achieve a finer level of granularity in the statistical analysis they provide

Adapted from: Moroni, A. (2012). Weeding in a Digital Age. Library Journal, 137(15), 26-28.

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