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A demand-driven acquisition model based on price

By Lea Currie, University of Kansas Libraries | July 01, 2012

In 2010, the University of Kansas Libraries developed a pilot project to purchase print books using a demand-driven acquisition (DDA) program. Library users can request a purchase through a record loaded in the library catalog. The library rush orders the book and notifies the patron when it arrives, usually within five business days. E-books became the obvious next choice for inclusion in the DDA program, but with two differences from print books. First, e-book records remain in the catalog indefinitely, while print DDA records must be purged after a year because they are likely to go out of print and become difficult to rush order. Second, library users have immediate access to the DDA e-books that they request.

Setting our parameters

Using Ebook Library (EBL) as our vendor, we take advantage of the short-term loan option, where we “rent” the book at 10 percent of the list price the first three times it is requested, and purchase on the fourth checkout. We based our electronic DDA model on the assumption that most titles will not be used at all, with diminishing numbers for one, two, three and four or more uses. If a subject librarian is fairly certain that an e-book will be requested often, it is cheaper to purchase the book outright, and librarians do have this option.

As a group, the social sciences librarians agreed to a $94.99 price cap for print or electronic books coming in automatically on approval. Records for books priced between $95 and $150 are loaded into the library catalog as DDA. Any book over the price of $150 must be selected by a librarian. The science/technology librarians chose a $150 price cap for their approval books. Books between $151 and $200 are loaded into the library catalog as DDA, and any book costing more than $200 must be selected by a librarian. These price caps are written into the Yankee Book Peddler (YBP) profile in addition to an already selective set of profile instructions. We have not yet considered implementing DDA for the humanities or for international area studies; in the latter case, DDA would not be practical for foreign publishers. Thus, at this point, DDA constitutes a small percentage of our book buying.

Consulting retrospective lists

The DDA service is still very new at KU, so we have collected little data. Many decisions for writing the new YBP profile were based on a retrospective list of our 2010 YBP purchases. This list allowed us to view the titles that would come in on the new profile, while looking at the number of titles that would be loaded in the catalog if we set them to DDA. We also used the retrospective list to calculate projected expenditures and average price per title. With the projected costs calculated, we were able to set up a separate fund for DDA by lowering the allocation for books that come in automatically on the approval plan. Consulting retrospective lists is not a foolproof method, but it has worked well for us and has not required many changes to the profile we wrote for the pilot program.

FY2012 Projection for Monograph Acquisitions in Social Sciences and Science and Technology

Electronic DDA 23%
Print DDA 50%
Received automatically on approval 20%
Selected by subject bibliographers 7%
Total 100%

The initial pilot project was based on publisher, while the current project is based on price. Librarians prefer the current project because all academic publishers are included in the approval plan. Librarians can also turn any e-book in their firm order slips to DDA. This broadens the number of books available to our library users because they can discover a book in the catalog that previously they might not have been aware of without a purchase.

Expanding our DDA model

Our statistics show that circulation on DDA materials is higher than our typical print collections’ circulation. Approximately 60 percent of our print collections circulate, compared with 88 percent of DDA material. This high circulation rate encourages us to expand our DDA model program and realize its savings and benefits.