One E-Book Solution

Summary of Presentation: E-book Travels, Who has the Map?

Presenter: Rachelle Logan, Douglas County Libraries 

2012 Colorado Interlibrary Loan Conference (April 25-27)

Rachelle Logan, from Douglas County Libraries, discussed the problems that her library has with the current model of how libraries get their e-books.  Basically, it boils down to: You have no control over what you don’t own.  As discussed in my last post, you can’t take it with you when you discontinue services with a vendor.  Also, with the popularity of e-books, Douglas County was asking, “What happened to our discounts?”  They were haveing to pay 300% more than list price for a Random House e-book.  And of course, there is no opportunity for used books or interlibrary loan of e-books.

Another issue is that of patrons getting to the materials.  Using OverDrive, it takes an average of 12 clicks from discovery to actual download, with a lot of opportunities for confusion and frustration along the way. No matter the frustration, they were seeing a huge increase in e-book demand- up 500% for this year.

The Douglas County libraries decided to do things a little differently.  They decided to buy their own Adobe Content Server (for about  $10,000) and own their own books.  They assign their own DRM and check out e-books one patron at a time.  Using VuFind as an open source discovery layer patrons are able to find the books they want and then buy them through a patron driven acquisition model.  Publishers like the “Buy Now” link, and huge discounts are available by being able to buy directly from the publisher.

This involves a lot of behind the scenes work, including talking directly to publishers who often don’t know how to send e-book files or cover art.  Douglas County Libraries had to work with lawyers to draw up a Statement of Common Understanding for Purchasing E-Book Content as well as a one for addressing publishing partners
Most of the published don’t have a clue about what a MARC record is, so while they send over the e-pub file, cover art and whatever kind of metadata they have, the catalogers work feverishly to create Crosswalks from excel spreadsheets and other strange formats to MARC.

And with all of this work and owned content…there is still no interlibrary loan (yet).

So this is all well and good for Douglas County Libraries, but what about my library?  Can we rent capacity on the Douglas County Adobe Content Server?  Well, no.  The capacity is currently maxed out.  But this is an opportunity for large library systems or consortia that are interested in replicating the model.

For more information about e-books (especially in Colorado), go to .  Next post will be about the Orbis Cascade initiative, a different take on how to structure e-book purchasing.


About Ellie Kohler

I'm the Access and Learning Services Librarian at Rockhurst University, and was a founding member of the ILL Special Interest Group. My specialties include interlibrary loan, instruction, reference, circulation, reserves, and wrangling 40 (or so) student assistants. I continue to defy the librarian stereotype by keeping a cat-free household.
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