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!
Through mid-August, our Middlebury and Monterey campuses have trial access to this database from Al-Manhal, the only provider of full-text searchable databases of scholarly and scientific publications from the Arab and Islamic world. Al-Manhal’s over 13,000 e-books and 300 peer-reviewed journals can be searched through the user-friendly platform linked above. The full-text content is also fully indexed in Summon. (Allow a few days after this post for all Al-Manhal content to be find-able in Summon by Middlebury and MIIS users.)
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.
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 email@example.com, and if it’s still available to us, we’ll get you back up and running with it.
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.
The Library took note in May 2011 when Amazon.com announced that its customers were purchasing “more Kindle books than all print books – hardcover and paperback – combined.” Though we’re certainly not yet debating the idea of a booklesslibrary at Middlebury, some number crunching over a 14 month time period seems to show that Middlebury faculty, students, and librarians are beginning to favor ebooks over print too:
A 14 Month Snapshot of Library Requests (Sept. 1, 2011-Nov. 1, 2012)