Digital access solutions report

Throughout 2016 we worked with participants from the Access Solutions pilot to identify issues around what was initially labelled as a ‘monographs’ in a digital form, however bibliographic information supplied on reading lists, by academics and researchers often made it difficult to distinguish titles this way.

The ten chosen institutions supplied us with lists of titles they required, but were not available as e-books or useable to them in their current e-book status, indicating the nature of the problem based on pre-defined categories. We also asked for the reason for the need (reading list, research, preservation or ‘other’ such as accessibility) and an initial idea of the sort of use they required (on-campus only, remote access, for single users or multiple concurrent users). The titles reflect the precise year and edition requested by their users. We carried out a series of follow-on workshops to further articulate access issues and undertook research to assess the level of effort to accurately define the most current information available for the sample dataset of titles.

The project produced over 1000 titles and, while the data set is based on the requirements of a relatively small number of UK HEIs, it presents strong indications of the underlying problems around access to books in digital form.

  • 80% of the sample titles gathered from 10 HEIs participating in the Jisc Digital access pilot study are for reading list use, and 78% of these titles are not available as e-books.
  • Use cases in the study point to “digital by default” acquisition policies in most institutions
  • 31% of titles were requested for more than 50 concurrent users, with 41% requested for 5-50 users
  • Complexity and different language used to express title licensing and availability is a barrier to librarians pursuing acquisition of titles
  • There is a significant gap in availability of e-books in the 1990s and 2000s
  • The sample titles fell into the following categories
    • 43% are print-only, in-copyright and in-commerce
    • 27% are in-copyright and out of commerce
    • 30% are available as e-books but are not responding to libraries’ needs
    • Only a small percentage of titles are in the public domain

The sample data points to 41% of titles being held by ten publishers taking their imprints into account. A higher percentage (44%) constitute a long-tail of publishing houses controlling ten or fewer titles, with the majority holding one title only in the sample set.

This indicative data and the case studies supplied by the participating HEIs has suggested possible access solutions. The next phase of the project will work with strategic stakeholders to validate and prioritise the use cases addressed in the report as a preamble to working with publishers on scenarios to potentially increase access to academic books in a digital form.

The Digital Access Solutions report and the underlying dataset of titles supplied by the libraries are both available online. The report is also attached here DIGITAL_ACCESS_SOLUTIONS_REPORT_DEC_16

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