E‐books in Academic Libraries

Rebecca L. Mugridge (Pennsylvania State University)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 27 September 2011




Mugridge, R.L. (2011), "E‐books in Academic Libraries", Online Information Review, Vol. 35 No. 5, pp. 835-836. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684521111176543



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The increased availability and ubiquity of e‐books in the past 10 years has dramatically altered the academic library's collection development landscape. In this overview of e‐books Minčić‐Obradović discusses all aspects of e‐book management and use in an academic library setting. This book is written from a practitioner's viewpoint and will prove useful for anyone trying to develop a strategy for managing e‐books in an academic library. The work is organised into seven chapters. The introduction provides an explanation of the author's own interest in e‐books, based on her experiences with them at the University of Auckland.

The history and development of e‐books, beginning with Project Gutenberg in 1971, is discussed in the second chapter in which the author also discusses the various definitions of e‐books and differentiates between digitised collections and born‐digital collections. In chapter 3 Minčić‐Obradović explores the tensions between publishers and libraries, including issues such as pricing models, copyright and digital rights management. The library as publisher of digitised “heritage collections” and electronic theses and dissertations is also discussed.

Chapter 4, “Developing and managing e‐book collections”, should prove of great interest to readers who might want to provide access to e‐books and also to those who have already implemented e‐books but who want to learn more about management options. The chapter addresses selection, access, cataloguing, de‐selection, interlibrary loan and preservation. The section on access covers both remote access and the use of dedicated devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and e‐book readers such as Kindle 2 and the Sony Reader. The section on cataloguing discusses the value of MARC records in the online catalogue and covers such timely issues as single versus separate records for print and e‐books, and the provider‐neutral records for multiple versions of a single e‐book title.

Minčić‐Obradović explores the use of e‐books by faculty, staff and students in chapter 5. She analyses a number of research studies that explore e‐book use, and which address user awareness, how users access e‐books, frequency of use, purposes for using e‐books, screen reading behaviour, reading format preference and the importance of e‐book features (e.g. the ability to highlight or annotate). Chapter 6 explores future developments of the e‐book format, such as the use of multimedia applications embedded in the e‐book. The final chapter addresses four issues that Minčić‐Obradović has identified as being of importance to academic libraries.

Overall, this is an excellent exploration of the current state of e‐books in academic libraries. It addresses issues that are timely and of interest to all libraries that have begun to include e‐books in their collections. The book is supported by an index, robust notes and references at the end of each chapter, and useful illustrations. It would be an excellent addition to the professional collection of any academic or research library.

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