The New Supply Chain and Its Implications for Books in Libraries

Joseph J. Esposito, independent management consultant. Kizer Walker, Director of Collection Development at Cornell University Library, and Terry Ehling,Associate Director, Project Muse, at the Johns Hopkins University Press write about The New Supply Chain and Its Implications for Books in Libraries for the Sept 5th edition of Educause Review. This is a great article on a very timely topic. We’re actually just about to roll out an eBook initiative at my library which is based on patron-driven acquisitions, so I found this to be of particular interest.

“Over the past decade or more, academic libraries have become increasingly sophisticated in managing their workflow, ingesting huge amounts of content with relatively low administrative costs as they struggled with the growth in the quantity of scholarly publications and the tightening vise of budget contractions. A relatively new innovation in this collection building is patron-driven acquisitions, familiarly known as PDA, which has now moved from the experimental stage into a more central part of the practices of many libraries.

Also called DDA for demand-driven acquisitions and even PIA for patron-initiated acquisitions, PDA provides access to electronic and (sometimes) print books through a library catalog but delays purchase of a book until a patron actually uses it. At least in the case of PDA e-books, the patron has no way of knowing whether the title in the catalog has already been purchased by the library. PDA can be seen as the logical extension of a shift in research library collection development, ongoing since at least the mid-1990s, from “just-in-case” to “just-in-time” acquisition models. Although the scope and intensity of all collection building is determined by the collections budget, academic research libraries traditionally aimed to collect as “comprehensively” as funds would allow, with the goal of anticipating the short- and long-term needs of faculty and students. But pressures on collections budgets have increasingly pushed just-in-case approaches out of reach for even the largest research libraries.”