v31#2 A Case Study: Integration of eBook Packages into Selection Workflows at a Research University

by | May 23, 2019 | 0 comments

by Jenny Hudson  (Senior Collection Development Manager and Profiling Team Lead, Western U.S., GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO)  

Case Study

Integrating publisher eBook collections into a monograph collection development workflow, including how a library is using a book vendor to manage those workflows.


eBooks came onto the scene in the early 2000’s.  At first, there was a trickle of options but, as time progressed, libraries were bombarded with offerings.  As recently as 2011, eBooks accounted for only 35% of publishers’ simultaneous eBook/print book output, but now eBooks account for approximately 57% of simultaneously published titles.  Today there are numerous aggregator and publisher platforms to choose from. In addition to those platform choices, there are multiple user models (1 User, 3 User, Unlimited User, DRM-Free, etc.) that add to the complexity.  Along with those user models, a library can purchase publisher collections, subscription packages, and title-by-title orders. Often balancing the integration of eBooks into a collection policy can cause confusion and problems.

For one large research library, the path to achieving this balance has been bumpy.  But, when a new Associate University Librarian (AUL) came on board, they were tasked to make a change.


UC Berkeley has long participated in the consortial purchasing of journal packages and eBook bundles or collections.  They have also purchased eBook collections locally. As a larger institution with a comprehensive collecting philosophy, packages seemed like the best return on investment for the library because of the cheaper costs and some economies of scale.

However, this practice was causing a lot of confusion for selectors.  Acquiring eBooks from consortial collections and local packages meant that the material was outside of their traditional selection workflow.  Selectors were never sure what was coming in as part of the collection and there was fear of duplication. They would often pass on buying a title, thinking it would be part of an eBook collection.  Then, they felt cheated if it was not. With cataloging delays sometimes taking up to six months for a record to become available, this was causing other problems. As a result, the selectors were concerned about their reputation with faculty, users having access to the content, and how these delays could affect the budget.

Jo Anne Newyear-Ramirez came to UC Berkeley in August 2016 as the AUL for Scholarly Communications.  Before that, she was at University of British Columbia for ten years as the Associate University Librarian for Collections.

When hired to take the reins at UC Berkeley, she was tasked with addressing the issues that revolved around the acquisition of eBooks.  Addressing the confusion over eBooks was a priority when taking on this new role. To do this, she had to solve that issue around the lack of information of what was contained in the eBook packages and collections.

The Approach

At UC Berkeley there is a heavy print focus when it comes to the acquisition of content, particularly in the social sciences and humanities.  Not having visibility into what was included in an existing eBook collection or what was already owned was causing problems and wasting time.  Selectors were going from a publisher’s website to the library catalog when trying to determine whether a title was already owned. Furthermore, they would send a question to Acquisitions regarding whether a title was included in an eBook collection when they couldn’t find it in the catalog.  Since titles purchased as part of an eBook collection were not visible in their daily selecting workflow, selectors were unsure of whether they were duplicating material they already had access to. The confusion over how to handle eBook collections was causing paralysis.

To address this problem, Newyear-Ramirez set out to clarify the policy and procedures at UC Berkeley.  She started by reviewing the cause of this concern and from there finding ways to build knowledge and confidence.  While there was no specific policy about duplication within the library, there were a variety of beliefs and practices across the selectors.  She set out to draft a policy that would outline how and when duplication between eBooks and print books should occur.

The library’s primary English-language vendor is GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO.  In a move to clarify their eBook purchasing, UC Berkeley moved publisher eBook packages and collections from being invoiced direct through the publisher to invoicing through their monograph vendor.  Whenever possible, they would acquire an eBook package through their book vendor. Most of the selectors were already sourcing their selections for individual discretionary monographic purchases through this avenue; therefore, by also purchasing eBook collections through GOBI, the selector would be able to see whether a title was part of a collection or not owned and available for single title acquisitions.  For this library it was a great tool that allowed a more complete picture of what had and hadn’t been bought. For the library, integrating this process with their book vendor provided a better picture of owned eBooks so selectors could make appropriate selections.  Since this process began in 2017, the library has continued to add various other publisher packages whenever possible.

Addressing local eBook collection purchases did not solve all the problems.  Consortial eBook collections were in many ways an even bigger conundrum than the local level eBook collection management.  Since not all eBook collections include everything from a publisher, and often exclude things that are course adopted or textbooks, they are not always easy to track.  Even keeping a list requires selectors to leave their current workflow to search for a title. It’s not an efficient process. Many times selectors won’t venture outside their monograph workflow, or they might not understand why content is included in one space and not the other.  Because a lot of confusion came through consortial purchases, the library sought to address this in a couple of ways. First, they began to ask for a title specific list of all consortial collection titles from the consortia. Second, they started loading these holdings with their monograph vendor three times a year.  By doing this, the selector could then see when the library had access to the title in some way. While this does not eliminate the possibility of duplication, it does provide a very specific process for making sure titles in eBook collections are visible to selectors and integrated into their regular workflow. Thus, for titles for which the selector is unsure, they can wait until the next load before deciding to purchase.

Newyear-Ramirez has pushed the consortia to move in a new direction; one in which the library is working more closely with a monograph vendor for purchasing consortial eBook packages.  In doing this, the print or eBook titles in GOBI would show if a title was part of the shared eBook collection.  Since many of the individual UC libraries rely on eBook packages purchased through consortia, this would benefit libraries across the UC system.  In addition, this workflow would be beneficial because the information would then be in GOBI for each of the libraries.  In the long run, integrating everything into one place allows institutions to work efficiently within all the eBook acquisition models available today, as they look to build their larger collections.

After two years of loading holdings and integrating eBook collections into GOBI workflows, the library has seen benefits of this integration.  The selectors appreciate that they can now see what has been purchased or is part of an eBook collection, the questions to Acquisitions have greatly decreased, and selectors are spending down their budgets without fear of unnecessary duplication.  Having eBook collections integrated into the monograph vendor workflow also gives the library a better way to view their English-language collection more holistically regardless of format, making it easier to identify and address gaps in the collection.  The library is now working towards a new set of profiles that will address these disparities and better serve the users in the future. By consolidating and centralizing, they believe they have improved the efficiencies for all.


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