Increased Size of E-Book Collection Positively Impacts Usage but May Reach Critical Mass
AbstractObjective – To investigate the impact of collection size, student population, and faculty population on the use of an e-book collection.
Design – Longitudinal quantitative analysis.
Setting – Mid-sized public university located in Ontario, Canada.
Subjects – Data from 79,821 e-books related to searches and viewings; data regarding number of e-books held, students enrolled, and faculty employed at institution.
Methods – Numbers of e-books purchased individually and in packages were calculated, followed by the acquisition of annual student and faculty numbers through the University Institutional Planning Office. Searches for and viewings of e-books conducted via vendor websites were obtained directly from vendors. Data for all variables represent years 2002-2010.
Conclusions – Based upon examination of correlation coefficients, the study concludes that the e-book collection size is closely associated with the level of e-book usage. The author notes that the data suggests use of the collection may possibly have leveled off, implying that additional large increases in the e-book collection could incur unnecessary expenditure. “Viewings per e-book” and “searches per e-book” ratios were highest when e-books were obtained on an individual title-by-title basis, though the author cautions that this does not necessarily prove that selective purchasing results in increased use. A deeper quantitative analysis into e-book usage and academic program size is considered for future research, as well as a comparison between electronic reference books and monographs. The author recommends that similar research be performed at other institutions of varying size to determine whether the study’s results would be replicated.
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