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The eBooks Savings Calculator – A handy tool for librarians

Oct 06, 2015

Image of eBooks savings calculator


As libraries continue to convert from print to digital collections, there is the potential to repurpose library space for a research or learning commons, collaborative study areas or a makerspace — or simply to make more room in open stacks for the most important print materials. In addition to the space saving benefits, accessing books electronically improves the research experience, making it easier to discover relevant information. But how can librarians make the case to university administration or company management to invest in the conversion?




Estimating library space and cost savings


The eBooks Savings Calculator is an app that helps librarians estimate the potential cost savings of converting from print books to eBooks. Plug in the number of print books to be converted, and it will calculate estimated square footage required for that number of books.  Conversely, if you know the amount of square footage you’d like to save, enter that value and the calculator will tell you how many books you’ll need to remove. 


If you know your cost of housing items in open stacks or have an idea of what your real estate is worth, enter those numbers and estimate how much you could save over the course of seven years.  Some of these funds could be used to invest in eBooks.  The assumptions behind the calculator are provided so librarians can understand how the calculations are derived and consider this when using the calculator in their own environments.


Where did the calculator come from?


Developed by Elsevier’s Books group with input from four US librarians, the calculator is meant to be a helpful tool for librarians in providing an estimate of cost savings.  The idea arose when members of the ScienceDirect Books team reviewed a paper entitled, “Collections and Space” (Dames, Gwilt, Warren and Carrier, 2015). This sparked a notion that a calculator to help estimate space savings could be useful. One of the four librarians consulted in this process was Scott Warren, Interim Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship at Syracuse University Libraries and co-author of “Collections and Space.”   


Scott Warren“In our paper, we noted that as libraries face an increasing number of contemporary challenges — including helping universities manage a dearth of campus study space — strategic use of facilities can play an integral role in addressing these transitions,” says Scott Warren.


As library space and services evolve, so too does the need for new tools and paradigms for evaluation and planning. In this first iteration of the calculator, data entry is quite simple. The Books team welcomes feedback and suggestions for improving the calculator and will consider adding more fields and units of measure that can be edited to make the calculations even more accurate.