Best Practices in defining a Collection Development Strategy and Evaluating Business Models for eBooks

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By: Diana Petrowicz, Wed Feb 3 2021
Diana Petrowicz

Author: Diana Petrowicz

In this article our guest speakers Jessica Morales, Director of Collection Strategy and Acquisitions, and J. Parker Ladwig, Mathematics and Life Sciences Librarian, both from the University of Notre Dame, talk about their journey in defining a collection development strategy as well as, aligning business models with local priorities.


SN webinar page © Springer Nature
According to Jessica Morales, defining a collection development strategy and evaluating business models begins with support from the upper level administration. The first level of support comes in the form of staffing positions whose roles and responsibilities support data and form decision making which is really the backbone of our collection strategy approach. The four areas which support their collection development strategy:



  • Strategic Direction
  • Stewardship of the budget
  • Content Selection
  • Data Gathering, Analysis and Product Evaluation


Strategic initiatives carry weight within the Notre Dame institution and they guide priorities at every level. This academic year, one of their strategic initiatives is to develop scalable strategic and responsive collections to advance teaching and research within a sustainable budget. Four years ago they moved to a ePreferred model for their collections. The driving factors behind the decision were cost, space and time. As they moved towards adopting an ePreferred model, the organisation examined their historical print purchasing trends, particularly looking at publishers and subjects and circulation history. They already had a fair number of eBooks in their collection and were also able to consider that data in this context as well. On a larger organisational level, they were looking for ways to reduce the amount of time that was spent on individual title level selection, so they could focus more energy on other areas such as data management, teaching and outreach. As they moved into the implementation phase of their eBook strategy, they let those pieces of data from the evaluation phase guide their implementation which resulted in focusing on front list collection purchases with specific publishers.


Aligning business models with local priorities

The organisation's preliminary goal is to support research and teaching on campus through access to scholarly resources. When examining the available eBook purchase models, they found in particular, evidence-based acquisition models, provided them with the flexibility they were looking for in terms of cost, while simultaneously making a large amount of content available. By switching to publisher based eApproval models as well as firm order subject collections they were able to reduce the amount of time spent on the title level selection. Another one of their priorities was reducing barriers for the end users. They found that demand driven acquisition models were beneficial in accomplishing this goal. However, there are challenges in balancing this when it comes to platform preference as well as Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions. According to Jessica, within the current market place offers, they were not able to provide immediate access to every eBook available. For this reason they decided the best way forward for them was to continue with title level subscription request and using firm order single title purchases to fill those types of requests. 


Hear more about Notre Dame's journey to defining a collection development strategy in the 1-hour webinar recording below and download the presentation here.

Diana Petrowicz

Author: Diana Petrowicz

Diana Petrowicz is an Online Marketing Manager in the Institutional Marketing team, based in the London office. She manages 'The Link' blog, creates web content for the librarian webpage and produces the Library Link newsletter to keep the librarian community updated on trends and news.

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