e-books ? is a centralised source of discovery at hand at last?

Added by Sally Curry on 02 November 2009 13:26

The growth in demand for and use of e-books in academic libraries has been a slow one but is now taking off rapidly both for students and for researchers.

Despite some reservations, publishers are rushing into this market and this mini-e-publishing boom is inevitably leading to fragmentation and a lack of standardization in what is on offer. Library staff, who are trying to manage both the acquisition of e-books and ensure the effective discovery of these items by their users, are struggling with multiple, formats, platforms, and purchasing models and in general, poor metadata attached to the products.

These developments and problems feature in the JISC?s national e-books observatory project and have been noted in a report for the Publisher?s Association,  by Linda Bennett of Goldleaf, Going digital: Choices and opportunities

RIN?s Creating catalogues looks at this issue in some detail from the point of view of the provision of adequate metadata. It notes that ?no organisation in the UK yet provides a comprehensive aggregation of e-book metadata? and that, lacking a formal requirement for the deposit of e-books, ?the British Library is as yet unable to provide the kind of bibliographical service it does for UK printed books.?

One of the main recommendations from the Creating Catalogues report is that:

?Publishers and aggregators should work together with other interested groups in the supply chain, and with librarians, to consider how to establish comprehensive listings of high-quality records for e-books, and to seek agreement on standards for the content and format of such records.?

Following a meeting at the Digital futures: adapting to new e-environments in Glasgow, I talked to SwetsWise about their new ebooks Service. SwetsWise is planning a database which will focus on focus on STM and professional titles. It will include information on which books are available in e-format, from which vendors, purchasing models, licence conditions and prices. It will also show tables of contents, and directly download ?quality assured? metadata into their catalogue.

Of course, not all publishers have yet signed up to this service but, if it provides anything like as much as it promises, it seems that at last a much needed single source of discovery may be about to appear.

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