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Key issues

Briefing papers and Webinars on key issues

  1. Library management system to library services platform. Resource management for libraries: a new perspective
  2. Rethinking the library services platform
  3. The new role of the library in teaching and learning outcomes
  4. The student consumer and the rise of e-textbook platforms
  5. The rise of library centric reading list systems
  6. Aggregate and amplify – enhancing the value and use of theses and dissertations
  7. Open library systems – a new perspective
  8. New approaches to resource sharing

Library Systems


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Ebooks in HE


Campaign to investigate the academic ebook market

CampaigntoinvestigatetheacademicebookmarketWe are a group of academic librarians, researchers and university lecturers who have compiled an open letter asking the UK government to urgently investigate the academic publishing industry over its ebook pricing and licensing practices.The current situation is not working and it needs to change. Librarians are increasingly unable to provide the resources students, lecturers and researchers need.”

New Jiscmail list for #ebookSOS “We have set up a new Jiscmail mailing list for all things #ebookSOS – a place for discussion about the issues around academic publishing and ebooks, for news and updates about the campaign, calls for help and support, sharing of examples and bad practice (and good practice – it does happen!) We launched this yesterday …

Problems with the market for academic ebooks

There’s big problems with the market for academic ebooks. For Rachel Bickley, market pressure alone cannot solve the problems in the market for academic ebooks. Wonkhe. [blog] 28 March 2021.

“In the time since a small group of academic librarians launched the #ebooksos campaign with an Open Letter asking for an investigation into the academic ebook publishing industry, we have faced some questioning of our actions. In spite of the letter having attracted, at the time of writing, signatures from over 3800 librarians, lecturers, students, heads of services, university senior managers and two vice chancellors, indicating that the cost and availability of ebooks is a significant concern across the sector, there have still been suggestions that perhaps we could sit down and discuss the issues with the publishers instead.

However, these issues are not new. The pandemic has brought the lack of availability of ebooks for institutional access, and the astronomical prices and restrictive licences under which those which are available can be procured, into sharp focus, but librarians have been dealing with this situation for a long time. Dialogue with publishers has been attempted, but it went nowhere useful. The investigation route was not a knee-jerk reaction to being unable to obtain the resources that we need for our students; it was the only option that those of us who set up the campaign could see remaining.

Ebooks in HE : Overview

Ebooks in higher education

Fyfe, C. 2014. Ebooks in higher education: a strategic priority? In: Woodward, H. (ed.) Ebooks in Education: Realising the Vision. Pp. 1–7. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI:

University leaders and managers concern themselves with developments that align with institutions’ strategic priorities, deliver competitive advantage, improve teaching and research performance, reduce costs and enhance value for money. Ebooks have the potential to engage with all these strategic priorities. Following the successful integration of ejournals into the academic workflow, ebooks promise much to universities aspiring to enhance students’ educational experience, enrich research resources and streamline services. They have greater potential to transform the reader experience than ejournals and yet they have experienced a long and difficult birth, suffering from digital rights management, integration, discoverability and functionality challenges. It is taking much longer than expected to arrive at a position in which ebooks have a dominant and reliable part to play in students’ learning and in universities’ provision of texts to support both teaching and research.

The challenge of ebooks (Jisc Project )

The challenge of ebooks. The goal of the project is to help orientate senior institutional managers and to support institutions in the effective adoption and deployment of ebooks and ebook technology. As a consequence the project helps to support the wider ambition to enable improvements in the quality and impact of teaching, learning and research and meet rising staff and student expectations.The work was guided by three core ebook themes – creation, curation and consumption These themes are usefully summarized in the infographics we created. We also produced case studies.

Ebook aggregator platforms


E-textbook platforms

The student consumer and the rise of e-textbook platforms. By Ken Chad.Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech) briefing paper (No. 4). March 2018.

A 2017 report for the Society of College, National & University Libraries (Sconul) listed ‘students as customers’ as one of the five top ‘transformational’ trends that will impact libraries over the next ten years. These student consumers are not all happy and one reason is the rising cost of textbooks and the lack of availability from libraries. The briefing paper looks at the textbook market and the moves to digital and more interactive learning resources. It analyses new approaches to textbook publication including Open Textbooks and institutional initiatives and new ways libraries are delivering e-textbooks to students. It concludes with an analysis of the potential disruptive impact of new user focused e-textbook platforms

The role of the library in teaching and learning outcomes

The new role of the library in teaching and learning outcomes. By Ken Chad & Helen Anderson. HELIbTech briefing paper No. 3. 20 June 2017

Students in many countries, especially the US and UK are concerned that the growing cost of higher education is not delivering good value. Excellence in teaching and a focus on measurement and assessment of learning outcomes have become entrenched in higher education policy and the strategies of academic institutions. In the UK this trend has crystallised in a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) introduced by government in 2017.
As a result library leaders around the world will need to become more strategic in articulating value propositions based around a more holistic view of library/learning resources.The value of data analytics will be a key driving force. Data from reading list systems and digital textbook platforms combined with information from other institutional systems will allow powerful insights to emerge. Such analytics will be invaluable to institutions, publishers and intermediaries as they look at new ways to deliver content.

All this suggests a trend for library technology and educational technology to merge. There looks to be the beginning of shift away from a narrow conception of *library* systems, the *library* supply chain and *library data*. Conventional integrated library systems (ILS) and even the new generation of library services platforms (LSPs) remain wedded to an outdated view of library learning resources and will have to change significantly or be integrated or subsumed into a new generation of learning services platforms.

Institution as e-textbook publisher

Institution as e-textbook publisher toolkit (Jisc)

Between 2014 and 2018, Jisc Collections ran a national pilot project funding four project teams from UK higher education institutions (HEIs) to investigate the viability of publishing their own e-textbooks.

Four project teams – from the Universities of Liverpool, Nottingham, Highlands and Islands with Edinburgh Napier University, and University College London – received funding to:

  • Publish two e-textbooks each
  • Apply business, licensing and distribution models of their choice
  • Collate information on the processes, challenges and technologies chosen
  • Report back on the benefits to their students and their institution

The project, developed in direct response to the unsustainable models and high price of e-textbooks being made available to institutions, has been exploring alternative ways to create learning materials for students.Lara Speicher from UCL Press explains that: “Textbooks are very expensive for students to buy on top of their fees and living expenses, and buying large numbers of print textbooks is increasingly challenging for squeezed library budgets. And now these issues are starting to bite as textbook sales are in decline”.There are now clear signs that an alternative approach is underway. In the US, OpenStax, developed by Rice University, is an innovative open access textbook platform and SUNY Open Textbooks, developed by the State University of New York Libraries and launched in 2012 has published over 20 textbooks with more forthcoming. The latter is very much a community project and it is hoped that the outcomes of the institution as e-textbook will kickstart a similar approach in the UK leading to fresh approaches and sustainable models textbook publishing.Furthermore, the advent of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) provides additional incentive for HEIs to raise the topic of institutionally produced textbooks higher on the agenda.

Other resources

Opening textbooks. By David Kernohan & Vivien Rolfe. Wonkhe Ltd [Blog]. 8 December 2017

The direct library supply of individual textbooks to students: examining the value proposition. By Dominic Broadhurst. Information and Learning Science, vol 118, no. 11/12, pp. 629-641. 2017 DOI: 10.1108/ILS-07- 2017-0072

UK Open Textbook project:

Open Access Ebooks

The OAPEN Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation based in the Netherlands, with its registered office at the National Library in The Hague. OAPEN is dedicated to open access, peer-reviewed books.

OAPEN operates three platforms:

- a central repository for hosting and disseminating OA books

- a toolkit on OA book publishing for authors

- a discovery service indexing OA books, in partnership with OpenEdition

OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) was developed as a 30-month targeted project co-funded by the EU in its eContentplus-program (2008-2010). The goal of the project was to achieve a sustainable publication model for academic books in humanities and social sciences and to improve the visibility and usability of high quality academic research in Europe. After the close of the project, OAPEN continued its activities as a foundation.

OAPEN Foundation was established by the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the University of Leiden (UL), the University library of Utrecht University (UU), the Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW), the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) and Amsterdam University Press (AUP).


OAPEN is involved in various initiatives for open access books:

Open Access Ebook initiatives

There are not a whole lot of OA ebook initiatives that are actively seeking funding through crowdfunding, consortial, or membership models just yet. But more are coming! The following are the existing programs . Make note that some of these are more US-based than others,

Central European University Press Opening the Future
Knowledge Unlatched
Language Science Press
Liverpool University Press Opening the Future
MIT Press Direct to Open
Open Book Publishers
Punctum Books
University of Michigan Press Fund to Mission

Open Access Textbooks

UK Open Text-book project
“Open Textbooks have seen impressive growth and impact in the North American context, through providers and initiatives such as OpenStax, the Open Textbook Network, BC Campus, and Lumen Learning. With the exception of Siyavula in South Africa however, the open textbook model has largely been restricted to North America.. Whether this is a result of particular contextual dependencies (such as the relative cost of textbooks) or because this is where the funding and interest has been focused is as yet unknown. The aim of this project then is to test the transferability of this model to a new context, namely that of the UK. Our overarching research question is:

What is the viability of introducing open textbooks in UK higher education through the testing of two proposed models: OpenStax and OpenTextbook Network approaches?

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ebooks.1623880714.txt.gz · Last modified: 2021/06/16 17:58 by admin