Measuring the value of e-books in academic libraries

How should academic libraries determine the value of e-books?  A Springer White Paper (Scholarly eBooks: Understanding the Return on Investment for Libraries) explores why libraries should measure value – and how they should go about it.

RoI is a complex issue and different institutions are using a range of measures.  Factors that may be considered include:

  • Effect on research output
  • Time saved by library staff and researchers
  • Space saving
  • Cost saved on content acquisition
  • Usage figures per e-book (vs usage figures per print copy)
  • Use of e-resources can lead to increased number of citations – which can influence grant applications

Key lessons for librarians

  • Stay current with relevant RoI research – and be ready to refer to it in discussions with University administrators
  • Partnering with publishers to promote e-resources encourages efficient searching and usage
  • Enhanced discoverability of e-books encourages multi-disciplinary work
  • Usage statistics vary between publishers
  • Additionally, e-book users tend to read chapters not whole books, but most usage statistics do not reflect this
  • Libraries will continue to have to prove value for money – librarians need to focus on having comprehensive RoI data available.
  • Learn from the lessons of e-journals – consensus about usage figures will emerge, just as they did for e-journals
  • There is much work to be done in collaboration with publishers – including developing usage measures and deepening understanding of user needs

The White Paper is available (free of charge) at

About Val Skelton

I am the editor of Information Today, Europe. On the main site, we cover news and publish feature articles by information, research and knoweldge practitioners and thought leaders. On this blog, we aim to cover other topics of interest to our readers.


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

Comments are closed.