23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Strategy Session: When Did E-Books Become Serials?

August 25, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Strategy Sessions | Leave a comment


When Did E-Books Become Serials?

Kim Armstrong, Center for Library Initiatives; Rick Lugg, R2 Consulting; Peter McCracken, Serials Solutions; Bob Nardini, Coutts Information Services
Reported by Glenda Griffin

A session on electronic resources explored the static nature of traditional print monographs as opposed to the serial-like aspects of electronic books.  Pertinent issues including access, storage, licensing, user interactions, monetary concerns and library budgets were overviewed briefly by each of the four speakers followed by a discussion between the session audience and the panelists.  Panelists included a librarian, an academic library market consultant, an electronic resource management vendor, and an e-book aggregator.

E-books, like e-journals, are often available by subscription and often aggregated into online collections, evoking many of the same concerns as electronic serials.  Libraries typically buy a print monograph once and give it a shelf address to which it is returned after each use.  E-books live online and come with platform and maintenance fees similar to e-journal collections as well as issues regarding stability and permanence in the collection.  “We need assurances for archiving,” said Kim Armstrong of the Center for Library Initiatives, CIC.

Conversely, e-books retain some aspects dissimilar to serials.  While discovery of electronic serial titles most often occurs through a library’s A-Z periodical list, a list of databases, or the Web; e-books are typically discovered through a library’s online public catalog.  The e-book titles in the catalog are often hand-picked.  One of the panelists commented that there is a strong tradition of expert selection.  Bibliographers often make selections title by title whereas e-journals commonly arrive in bundles or packages.  Collections of e-books are available, but aggregation and linking are less developed than for e-serials.

New options on the horizon include the possibility of “renting” electronic titles.  Additionally, libraries may be able to acquire e-titles on demand by importing MARC records from a vendor but not purchasing the title until a user clicks on the link.

Input from the audience suggested that most libraries have MARC records in their catalogs for their e-books rather than a separate listing or an A-Z finding tool.  For those without MARC records, most users find the e-books through Google, abstracts, indexes, or special platforms.  An audience member also observed that where e-journals do not typically drive the users to the print versions, e-books often do just that.

In the concluding minutes of the session, panelists addressed the issue of whether or not e-books act in totality more like e-journals or like print monographs.  In a final analysis, Kim Armstrong stated that not all e-books are the same; both situations occur.


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