Scholarly eBooks: Understanding the ROI for Libraries, a Springer White Paper

Springer, in collaboration with PCG (Publishers Communication Group) released a white paper, Scholarly eBooks: Understanding the Return on Investment for Libraries, today.  It is available for a free download from the Springer site.

The following is the introduction:  The Return on Investment (RoI) of scholarly eBooks in research and academic libraries can be difficult to determine, as the factors considered can vary from library to library, or even from person to person. RoI can be defined as a performance measure used to quantify and evaluate the efficiency of an investment in library resources or to compare efficiency among different investments. While it may seem simply to be a question of money in versus money out, the real difficulty of expressing the overall value of this resource for an institution comes from many contributing factors:

  • Time saved by library staff and researchers
  • Convenience of constant access and online search capabilities
  • Effect on research output and teaching
  • Physical space saved in the library by using electronic resources

RoI can be articulated by libraries to provide justification for ongoing development of collections within an institution and to ensure that current resources may be prioritized in terms of the value they provide to the institution as a whole.  In this report, Publishers Communication Group and Springer present a broad overview of the current state of eBooks valuation in academic and special libraries along with its trends and dominant challenges. In addition, this report addresses some ways in which the scholarly eBook landscape is likely to change in the future and the anticipated impact on measuring the RoI of eBooks throughout the library community PCG has interviewed experts in the field as well as librarians taking on greater responsibilities for their institution’s eBooks collections throughout the United States and Europe. Their opinions, along with information available from studies such as the Lib-Value Project and recent reports from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and
the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), have formed the basis of these view points. We thank the following contributors to the study for their invaluable input:
Expert Contributors

  • Donald W. King, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Tennessee and Bryant University
  • Sue Polanka, Head, Reference and Instruction, Wright State University Libraries
  • Carol Tenopir, professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and
    the Director of Research for the College of Communication and Information, and Director of the Center for
    Information and Communication Studies

Librarian Contributors

  • Emre Hasan Akbayrak, Associate Director, Middle East Technical University Library
  • Sandra Crumlish, Manager, Corporate Medical Research Library, St. Jude Medical
  • Nancy Gibbs, Head, Acquisitions Department, Duke University Libraries
  • Almudena Pascual del Pobil Valdenebro, Head of Processes and Services, University Library, University of Seville
  • Tina Chrzastowski, Chemistry Librarian and Professor of Library Administration, University of Illinois
    at Urbana-Champaign