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Patron Driven Acquisitions pilot project: Putting users in the driver's seat

Have you ever wished that you, as a patron, could select the books that the library makes available? The Rutgers University Libraries made this possible when a Patron Driven Acquisitions (PDA) pilot project for e-books was conducted from December 2011-May 2012. The Libraries decided to implement a PDA pilot project, to gauge the effects of letting users identify and use content before the Libraries purchased it. A number of vendors made presentations on their e-book offerings, and a decision was made to implement the PDA through Ingram Library Services, one of the Libraries' major vendors for monographs.

The PDA pilot project made available e-books in the humanities, social sciences, and science/technology/medicine to authenticated and on-site users on a 24/7 basis. E-books were purchased after a negotiated threshold of uses specified by Ingram Library Services was reached (This number was negotiated with the vendor and cannot be publicly disclosed). A monthly invoice was sent to Central Technical Services when the trigger number of uses was reached. Libraries users had access to 6,957 new titles at no cost to us.

The PDA got off to a slow start, with only 682 uses in January, as compared to 1,645 uses in April. Not surprisingly, the highest usage was in medicine and related fields with a total of 117 titles. Usage peaked at 219 titles for science in general. There were 66 titles used in the social sciences, and 34 in the humanities. The pilot was slated to run through December 2012 but was halted in May 2012 due to extreme budget shortages in the state.

At the conclusion of the PDA pilot, 323 titles were purchased for a total of $34,357.59. The most expensive title purchased was On Solar Hydrogen and Nanotechnology by Lionel Vayssieres (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) for $273.84. In comparison, the least expensive title acquired was Post-traumatic Stress by Stephen Regel (Oxford University Press 2010) for $24.19. This particular PDA pilot project was limited to e-books, and if the Libraries embark on a future PDA project, it will likely be a hybrid of print and e-books to accommodate the wide range of needs of our respective disciplines.

News story by
Mary Beth Weber
Head, Central Technical Services
Rutgers University Libraries

Posted April 4, 2013