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Information Scotland

The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

ISSN 1743-5471

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February 2009 Volume 7(1)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland


Opting for success

When Glasgow Metropolitan College’s Library needed an update, the opportunity to try e-books seemed a good idea – with remarkable results, say Tony Donnelly and Eileen Connolly.

Glasgow Metropolitan College is the city’s largest FE College, enrolling around 18,500 students. A decision was made early last year to radically remodel our North Hanover Street site library. From an early stage in the planning it was obvious that building and fitting out the new facility would stretch through summer into the 2008-09 academic session. Among other hardships, users would temporarily lose access to 50% of library-based study spaces and 6% of book stock.

This was a prompt for creative thinking about service delivery, development and marketing as library staff explored the options. Relocation of key course texts to the nearby Cathedral Street site library would help, but space restrictions and increased demand for study spaces severely restricted size and impact. Distribution of stock to academic departments was impractical due to issues relating to accommodation, security, equitable access and circulation control.

Our twin commitments to improving services to three remote annexes and promotion of e-resources featured in discussions, and a technological solution was sought. Staff were aware of developments in the e-book market which gave librarians the ability to build collections on a title-by-title basis rather than the bundle model available in the past.

A 30-day e-book trial proved very positive. Dawson Books’ catalogue included many course texts, access could be managed via Athens authentication, usage could be closely monitored, free previews facilitated (inspection copies) and stock procured quickly. Titles could be catalogued, displayed and linked to from OPACs. Titles were also displayed in relevant subject areas on the library website. Thumb-nail book cover displays prompted student recognition of course texts – and costs were reasonable.

Signing up to the Dawson platform was cost-free. An initial purchase of more than 30 titles mapped to curriculum areas enabled librarians to deliver focused workshops to class groups. These workshops proved paramount to the success of the exercise at Glasgow Metropolitan College.

Positive marketing spread the word and interest grew rapidly. Workshop attendees were shown how to access, search and download library-owned titles and use the Dawson catalogue to make purchase recommendations.

The number of titles has increased dramatically to more than 160, and 1431 accesses were recorded from 18 August to 19 December. Many titles have been recommended by academic staff and students.
Benefits of the exercise have been:

The ability to build title-by-title collections of course texts has greatly enhanced the applicability of e-books in FE libraries. Costs were reasonable and procurement straightforward. E-books are easy to use, satisfy learners’ needs and guarantee democratic access on a 24/7 basis. Furthermore, they encourage use of the e-resource environment and expose readers to other e-resources.

A satisfied user sums it up much better than we can:

“I am no Elizabeth Bennet but I’ve fallen in love on the web. He’s intelligent, at times witty, and uses different communication methods to WOW me! He’s dependable, available 24/7 and committed to pleasing me. I’ll let you into a secret: He’s Mr e-books. My only concern is how faithful he is? I think he’s seeing other people! A fabulous resource that everybody should use.”
Jane McQueen (Curriculum Leader-Hospitality)

Tony Donnelly is Chief Librarian, and Eileen Connolly is Digital Librarian at Glasgow Metropolitan College.

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Information Scotland Vol. 7(1) February 2009

© Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

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Last updated: 27-Mar-2009