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Let Them Eat... Everything: Embracing a Patron-Drive Future by Rick Anderson, University of Utah


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Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8:15 am

In the print era – when books and articles were hard to find and could only be distributed slowly and at great expense – it made sense for libraries to build large, just-in-case collections despite the inevitable waste they entailed and despite our inability to predict our patrons’ needs accurately; the traditional collection was the only reasonable option. But then scholarly information moved online. First, journal content migrated in the 1990s, then monographs did the same (reaching a watershed with the Google Books project) in the 2000s. In the print realm, the recently-developed Espresso Book Machine has now radically undermined the logistical fundamentals of traditional publishing. These developments mean that information products are no longer either hard to find or difficult to distribute, and should prompt us to rethink our most fundamental assumptions about the role and functions of the traditional library collection. This new reality is frightening, of course, but also incredibly exciting and it offers tremendous opportunities for libraries and their patrons.

Attendees will learn more about the radical implications of three specific developments: Google Books; emerging patron-driven print and ebook acquisition models; and local print-on-demand. The presenter, whose library recently acquired and installed an EBM, will share his institution’s experiences, experiments, and policy innovations, and will solicit broader discussion with attendees on these topics.

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Let Them Eat... Everything: Embracing a Patron-Drive Future by Rick Anderson, University of Utah

  1. 1. Let Them Eat... Everything: Embracing a Patron-Driven Future Rick Anderson Associate Director Scholarly Resources & Collections
  2. 2. J. Willard Marriott Library Toward Greater Sanity in Scholarly Communication Less sane  Interlibrary loan  Big Deals  Subscriptions  Approval plans  Reference/Bib instruction  Redundant cataloging  Print runs More sane  Article purchases (document delivery)  Wikipedia  Shared cataloging  Ease of use  PDA (for books)  Print on demand
  3. 3. J. Willard Marriott Library Up through the 19th century, a library was... “... a building, room, or set of rooms, containing a collection of books for the use of the public or of some particular portion of it, or of the members of some society or the like; a public institution or establishment, charged with the care of a collection of books, and the duty of rendering the books accessible to those who require to use them.” (OED) “... a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale.” (Merriam-Webster)
  4. 4. J. Willard Marriott Library (Up through) 19th -century model
  5. 5. J. Willard Marriott Library A more recent definition: “... a collection of sources, resources, and services, and the structure in which it is housed; it is organized for use and maintained by a public body, an institution, or a private individual.” (Wikipedia)
  6. 6. J. Willard Marriott Library 20th -century model
  7. 7. J. Willard Marriott Library In other words, when we say library we’ve usually meant: a structure, filled with a collection.
  8. 8. J. Willard Marriott Library Then comes the internet.  Buildings start mattering much less  Collections are diffuse and hard to define  Access is available from anywhere in the world  Access can be purchased virtually immediately  Collection size is potentially limitless  Economies of scale make vast purchases affordable ... and therefore  Libraries can cast a huge net rather than carefully craft artisanal collections; or  Libraries can put off acquisition until need is demonstrated
  9. 9. J. Willard Marriott Library 21st -century model
  10. 10. J. Willard Marriott Library Today, when we say library we increasingly mean: a “structure,” “filled” with a “collection.”
  11. 11. J. Willard Marriott Library Game-changers in the next five years:  Continued budget declines (or, at best, flattening)  Google Books  Radical discoverability  Radical availability  Hathi Trust  Robust, trustworthy archiving with effective metadata ( = even better discoverability)  8 million books in 2010; 14 million by 2012  Patron-driven options  Ebook/article PDA  Print book POD (Espresso Book Machine)
  12. 12. J. Willard Marriott Library Espresso Book Machine: The UU Experience  Basic design  Two printers  Saw  Glue pot  Complications  Dry climate  Ink systems  Still waiting for color printer  What works:  Physical processes  What doesn’t:  Discoverability of content (metadata)  A certain creakiness (glue pot, etc.)
  13. 13. J. Willard Marriott Library Espresso Book Machine: The UU Experience  Surprises:  Demand for self-publishing  Demand for blank books (!)  Opportunities for commercial publishing  Plans for the future:  U of Utah Press backlist  Unique digital collections  Hopefully, more ODB content with better discoverability  ODB’s plans:  Advanced search by end of 2010  Adding new in-copyright content (with metadata) at a rate of roughly 10k ti/month  Currently working on deals with Internet Archive (1.8m titles) and Bibliolife (1.5m)
  14. 14. J. Willard Marriott Library To summarize: this is our new context:  Documents tend strongly to be available online  Documents are radically more discoverable than they have ever been (even if only available in print)  Print-on-demand (whether outsourced or insourced) is an increasingly available option  Our budgets have been/are being dramatically cut  Waste is decreasingly acceptable to stakeholders  When we try to guess what patrons will want, we’re wrong nearly half the time
  15. 15. J. Willard Marriott Library Why we are still building collections anyway:  Not everything needed is available (or even discoverable) online  Some essential documents require physical curation  Watch for growing bifurcation: library as archive (special collections) vs. library as information resource (general collections)  Not everything can be shown to patrons before purchase and then purchased immediately upon demand  Budget management: easiest way to control spending is to keep control inside the library
  16. 16. J. Willard Marriott Library The Unattainable Ideal (or North Star Approach)  Every book ever published is easily and immediately findable  Any book ever published can be purchased by library for patron immediately upon realization of need (purchase or borrow)  Every article...  Every data set... This ideal does not have to be attainable in order to be useful.
  17. 17. J. Willard Marriott Library What can we do in the meantime?  Share. (Ugh.)  Books: expose everything we can and buy when the patron points  Ebooks (MyiLibrary, NetLibrary, EBL, Ebrary, etc.)  Print books (LightningSource, OUP, etc.)  Print books (Espresso Book Machine)  Journals: by-the-drink purchasing  Remember: patrons don’t need journals; they need articles  This is the opposite of the Big Deal: it’s the Tiny Deal  Problem: publishers don’t want to sell that way
  18. 18. J. Willard Marriott Library Contact: Rick Anderson University of Utah