Author Archives: Douglas Black

Has an ebook disappeared on you?

Looking for an ebook you used recently but that seems to have vanished? Let us know right away; we can probably get it back. Our major ebook program is undergoing some changes due to soaring costs and increasing publisher restrictions on usage. A large number of titles will disappear from our catalog this week. The process is designed to leave available anything that’s been used recently, but because of behind-the-scenes technical work, there’s a lag between the vendor’s most recent usage reports and the actual catalog-record deletion. As a result, you may have used a title in the last two weeks and now can’t find it again. Just ask us to recover it, and if our supplier still has it available, we will!

We also added a new collection recently, with more than 140,000 ebooks from EBSCO. Check it out!

EBL Ebook Program Suspended Until July 1

You may know that Middlebury uses what’s called a “purchase on demand” model for its largest collection of electronic books, EBL (Electronic Book Library). Under this model, we place the catalog records in Midcat but don’t pay anything for the ebook unless and until it’s actually used. Then, we pay a fraction of the list price for each of the first four uses, and on the fifth request, the title is automatically purchased. We have set up seamless access so there’s no delay when you want to use a title, but the library is billed for all uses longer than five minutes, downloads, copies, or printing. There’s a lot more to how the program works, but that’s the broad outline.

Unfortunately, the library has reached the end of its funding for this fiscal year, so we have had to suspend access to the resource until July 1. This is definitely a temporary suspension, and EBL will be back on July 1, along with any titles you may have used but can no longer reach. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and hope it doesn’t put a serious crimp in your work. Please feel free to contact Douglas Black, Head of Collections Management, for more information.

Looking for an Ebook You Once Saw Here?

Has an ebook you’ve previously used disappeared from our catalog? Never fear! We’ve had to make some cutbacks at the end of the fiscal year (lots and lots of requests for new material this year), but if you need to regain access to something that no longer appears, we may be able to get you back in. Just email us the title at researchdesk@middlebury.edu, and if it’s still available to us, we’ll get you back up and running with it.

What’s an Approval Profile, and Why Does the Library Want to Change Ours?

A brown-bag lunch will be held on May 3 at 12:30 pm, in the Crest Room of the McCullough Student Center, to explore the subject of the library’s approval profile. Douglas Black, the library’s Head of Collections Management, will be presenting, with some sweets and coffee to augment your own lunch. He’ll give some history of the approval program in library acquisitions over the years and lead discussion on its role in the academic library collection of the 21st century.

For context, the library selects, acquires, and provides access to materials in many different ways:

  • upon request by students, faculty, and staff
  • automatic purchase of e-books and streaming media based on usage
  • subscriptions
  • package deals on journal subscriptions and purchased journal archives (“backfiles”)
  • one-time purchases of electronic databases, which often require annual maintenance fees
  • gifts/donations
  • and through automatic purchase via an “approval profile.”

Under the approval model, the library utilizes a library vendor (in our case, YBP Library Services) to purchase automatically books that meet certain criteria (e.g., subject, hardbound only, no workbooks, scholarly publishers only, within a certain price range, etc.).  Middlebury typically purchases about 3,000 volumes/year this way, at an average annual cost of $97,000 in the last few years. We recently conducted a thorough analysis of the program’s effectiveness, finding that print books purchased through the approval profile are used much less than those specifically requested. The library believes some of that money could be spent more effectively and would like to gather input from members of the campus community on reshaping the profile.

Please feel welcome to contact your liaison or Douglas Black (dblack@middlebury.edu or x3635) with any questions (whether or not you can attend the meeting), or comment here in the blog.

Has an ebook gone missing?

Noticed that an ebook you’ve previously seen no longer appears available? There are several possible reasons, but the most likely one right now is that it was removed from our collection because of its cost. The Library has many sources for ebooks, and the largest one is a company called Ebook Library (EBL). We have some 200,000 EBL records in our catalog, of which we own only .6%. The rest are there for access as needed, and we don’t pay for them until they’re actually used. This is a recently developed program called Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA). A vastly oversimplified description is that for the first four uses, the library pays a percentage of the full purchase price, and the fifth use triggers an automatic purchase. DDA lets us offer a tremendous range of ebooks at a small fraction of the full purchase price. Over the last four years, we’ve paid less than $500,000 for access to more than $8 million worth of books.

However, in the last two years, many publishers have decided they weren’t making enough money, so they dramatically hiked their fees for those first four uses, which has sent our library’s costs skyrocketing. We’ve shifted some funds from print purchasing to cover the additional ebook costs, but the only way to moderate expenditures for the longer term is to remove the most expensive titles, along with titles from the most expensive publishers.

What to do? If you’re not finding something you’d previously seen, or if you come across a catalog link that doesn’t work (removing the catalog records tends to lag behind the actual ebook access), email us right away, and we might be able to get it back. If we can’t, we’ll work on finding another way to lay hands on the material for you.

Multiple-copy withdrawals

You may have noted some withdrawal work going on the D-F ranges lately. Collections Management and Circulation Services are working together to remove multiple copies with very low circulation, in order to recover some badly needed space for routine stacks operations. In D and E, many shelves are completely full, with the remainder overcrowded. In F, many shelves are overcrowded, and all three ranges are strong growth areas.

Overall, 5.1% of the items in those three ranges are being withdrawn as multiple copies with low usage. Further ranges to be analyzed and weeded are JC-JV, K, P-PC, and PN. Duplicate items with any significant usage (more than 5 combined checkouts and renewals) are being retained, and in the process checked for condition. In all cases where items are withdrawn, the copy in better condition is retained.

Please note that no titles are being withdrawn entirely. Overall bibliographic coverage will not be affected; nor will the EAST data or programmatic weeding to be done later.