v24 #5 Western Oregon University: Changing Library Operations

by | Nov 21, 2012 | 0 comments

by Allen McKiel  (Dean of Library Services. Western Oregon University)  <[email protected]>

Changing Environment

The following is a summary of some e-book related news of the year:

E-books continue to be a major focus of the evolving world of library operations with offline mobile access becoming a central issue.  ebrary initiated a survey in March, 2011 of over a thousand librarians.  About a third of the librarians reported that their libraries provided offline mobile access with about a third more reporting the intent to provide it.  Over 95% of the librarians stated that tethered mobile access (interactive with vendor database) did not eliminate the need for offline mobile access (downloaded copy).

Amazon obtained a settlement between the Justice Department and three of the five publishers (Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollings) that, along with Apple, Penguin, and Macmillan, had forced the company to raise prices.  Amazon has dropped some prices, but the issue is still open since Apple, Penguin, and MacMillan have opted to do battle with the Justice Department next summer in court.

Google has settled out of court in its seven year legal struggle with the publishers leaving fair use where they started and providing both with expanded revenue possibilities from book sales.  Google also announced plans to scale down the Motorola phone company it acquired by a 20% reduction in personnel and by trimming down the Motorola phone offerings to a few from the dozens it currently offers.  They are looking forward to a more intensely wireless user environment in which they want to be intimately familiar with the hardware and software aspects of the environment in order to better compete with Apple.

HathiTrust has scanned over 5.6 million e-book titles, over 1 million of which are in the public domain.

Project Muse in January made an entrance into e-book distribution with the University Presses Content Consortium (UPCC).

The ongoing march toward unlimited mobile broadband has taken a step backwards with mobile phone companies structuring multiple layers of access through increasing focused levels of pricing.  The bandwidth reportedly cannot handle the demand at the lower rates for unlimited access.

EPUB 3 was adopted as a standard October 11th, 2011.  It provides enhanced e-publication features which include facilitation of complex layouts like those in many textbooks, rich media (audio/visual), and interactivity, as well as expanded global typography.

Tablets and Internet phones continue to proliferate.  Android 4.0 brings a variety of new features to phones and tablets.  Perhaps the most significant is that Ice Cream continues the convergence of WIFI and cellular technologies.  Google has unified the phone and tablet versions of Android in release 4.0.  Formerly, the phone version of Android was Gingerbread and the tablet version Honeycomb.

Google’s survey of mobile device users provided a picture of how they are used.  The number one slot goes to games with 84% of the respondents selecting the activity.  The second most popular activity is searching for information with 78% selecting it.  The other choices were emailing with 74%, reading the news 61%, accessing a social network 56%, consuming entertainment (music/videos) 51%, reading an e-book 46%, and shopping online 42%.  Games drive the market, but searching for information is right behind it.  E-book reading is a bit of a surprise with nearly half the population of mobile users in the survey selecting it.

Changes in Library Operations at Western

Western Oregon University is a regional state university with just over 6,000 students.  Our library budget has been on the decline for the past six years; however, as with most libraries, the depth and breadth of e-journal and e-book titles available as well as usage has increased dramatically with the transition from print to e-distribution.

Print Versus Electronic Usage – Books and Journals

E-resources this year accounted for approximately 78% of all library material usage and 81% of the cost for new materials.  E-book usage is 28% of total book usage and 28% of total new book costs.  Usage of e-books increased significantly this year by 74% from 8,443 uses to 14,684.  E-journal usage is over 99% of full text journal usage and 91% of total journal costs.  P-journal usage is 1% of full-text journal usage and 9% of total journal costs.  Print usage is 22% of total usage, and the cost is only 19% of total resource expenditures because only 645 books were purchased and usage is of the 225,993 on the shelves.  (See 2011/12 Usage and Expenditures of Print versus Electronic Books and Journals and 2011/12  Book & Journal Usage and Cost %) 

2011/12 Usage and Expenditures of Print versus Electronic Books and Journals

*All Full Text Accesses; **All Resources including indexes, databases, PPV, and individual title purchases 

2011/12 Book & Journal Usage and Cost %


Print Journal versus E-Journal Usage and Costs – Detail

The library will continue its strategy of replacing print subscriptions with less expensive electronic access as it becomes available.  The average cost-per-use for electronically accessed journals at Western is $1.31.  The average price includes the relatively high cost of some pay-per-use articles (e.g., $20 – $40).  The cost-per-use is calculated as the total annual cost of access to e-journals divided by the total annual full-text use of e-articles.  The library continues to shift resource purchases to those that provide optimal access to available resources for the lowest cost for our usage patterns.  (See Usage and Expenditures of Print versus Electronic Journals) 

Usage and Expenditures of Print versus Electronic Journals


 *Approximately 1,500 bound titles on the shelves


Conversion to Pay-Per-View for Journals

The most significant optimization of cost-per-use has come from cancelling individual print and e-journal titles when the annual cost of PPV is less than the cost of the subscription.  The conversion of e-journal and print title subscriptions to pay-per-view access over three years has resulted in a 25% decrease in cost, a 421% increase in the number of titles available, a 17% increase in full-text e-journal article usage, and a 51% decrease in cost per use.  (See Conversion of e-journal and print title subscriptions to pay-per-view access over three years) 

Conversion of e-journal and Print Title Subscriptions
to Pay-Per-View Access Over Three Years


Print Book versus E-Book Usage and Costs

Increased access for e-books via the subscription model costs dramatically less than the purchase of individual titles.  The average cost of the 18,065 additions to e-books availability was $20,146 or $1.11 per e-book.  The average cost of the additional 645 print purchases was $51,934 or $80.50 per book.

The cost of print books was 72% of the total book cost, and the usage was 72% of total usage.  The usage and cost of e-books were both at 28% of the respective totals.  Usage shows a slight preference for e-books.  They were 26% of the collection and 28% of the use this year.  (See Usage and Expenditures of Print versus Electronic Books)

Usage and Expenditures of Print versus Electronic Book


Alliance 37 Library Joint E-book Collection – Patron Driven Access

As a member of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, Western is participating in the cooperative purchase of e-books through YBP and EBL.  The intent is to purchase a collection as one entity through patron selections.  We are still working on the details of the model.  An overview from Western’s vantage point shows access to the 13,463 e-books over the last year that patrons from across the Alliance have access to, pending purchase based on use algorithms.  Our price for participation was $14,000 over last year.  That provides access for $1.04 per e-book available for use by Western’s students and faculty.  Western’s cost for the 193 titles that were purchased for the whole Alliance was $72.54 per title.  The average cost per title for the e-books that Western purchased on its own last year was $140.39.

Cost-per-use of the Alliance joint collection by Western students and faculty was $35.  Cost-per-use is about level with e-journal PPV access, but it is nowhere near competitive with subscription e-book cost-per-use of $1.37.  The reason is partially owing to the lack of breadth and depth of the collection.  The larger the pool of information is, the higher the chance of a search term finding a match.  The 13,463 titles of the Alliance pool is a smaller number of titles because it is the first year of the model and titles have not yet accumulated.  The subscription model provides access to a collection that has been built over the years.  (See Alliance Joint E-book Collection – Patron-Driven Access)

Alliance Joint E-book Collection – Patron-Driven Access



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