Author Archives: Douglas Black

The Library is Purchasing Print Books Again!

We’re happy to report that with restoration of its budget for print books, the library is once again able to purchase them. Not only was the library’s capital request for FY22 granted, but additional funds have been provided to help acquire some of the books we weren’t able to purchase last year. Since these are capital funds and print books are the only thing we can purchase with capital funds, we can’t use them for anything else. You have current needs, and we have holes in the collection from last year’s inability to purchase anything, so…please place your requests!

Can’t find something the library used to have? Please tell us!

If you’re discovering that the library no longer has access to something you used to use, it’s because the library’s collections funds were cut deeply this fiscal year, with the budget for print books eliminated entirely. Please tell us what you need that’s no longer available and how its lack has affected your work. The information will be very important as we work toward rebuilding the library’s resources to support the College’s instruction and research.

Update on New York Times access

You may be aware that we’ve had an access problem with the New York Times web site over the past few months. The short version of the issue is that SGA was providing online access until NYT discontinued that program…which no one on campus realized until our access ceased (there’s more detail in this Campus article). The Times’ new program is extremely expensive, and the library’s funding for this fiscal year was set last year. Partial access is still available; would that full access were, and we wish an immediate solution were at hand. We haven’t given up, though, and are still working on the problem. Please feel free to contact Douglas Black, Head of Collections Management, for more information.

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.