How much of library digital content is checked out but never used?. A call for refined lending models

Pages255-262
Publication Date01 April 2019
Date01 April 2019
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/EL-10-2018-0208
AuthorAngela Lieu,Dangzhi Zhao
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
How much of library digital
content is checked out but
never used?
A call for refined lending models
Angela Lieu and Dangzhi Zhao
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Abstract
Purpose This paper aims to identify patterns,trends and potential implications related to post-checkout
non-usage (material that is checked out by a user, but subsequently never opened and/or downloaded) of
library digitalcontent.
Design/methodology/approach A large urban Canadian public librarys data (2013-2017) from
Rakuten OverDrive was analyzed. Pending items (items that are checked out, but neither opened nor
downloaded)were compared with total checkouts to determinepost-checkout non-usage rates.
Findings Checkouts and overallrates of post-checkout non-usage of e-booksand e-audiobooks have risen
signicantly and consistently.Juvenile and non-ction e-books demonstrate higher post-checkoutnon-usage
rates than adult and ction e-books, respectively.The library spends up to US$10,700 per year on metered
access e-booksthat are never opened by users. This number has grown signicantly over the years.
Originality/value E-materials in librarieshave been growing rapidly, but their current lending models
are still largely a direct application of concepts in traditionallibrary services that have developed based on
physical materials,such as checkouts, due dates, renewals, holds and wait times.However, e-materials do not
have the limitation of physical materialsthat prevents other users from accessing a checked-out item, which
makes many of the traditional concepts no longer applicable. New concepts and lending models should be
developed that allow users to access any library e-materials at any time, and are nancially functional and
sustainablefor both libraries and e-content providers.
Keywords Library management, Public libraries, E-books, Collection development,
Circulation analysis, Digital content in libraries, Library nances, Library uses, Post-checkout usage
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
As the proliferation and accessibility of technologyand Web-based applications continue to
rise, more and more libraries are adding digitalitems to their collections (Ashcroft, 2011;De
Castell, 2014;Harvergaland Price, 2011). As of 2016, more than 90 per cent of public libraries
offer e-books to library users (Arch, 2016). In the past decade, public libraries in Canada
have doubled their expenditure on digital content (De Castell, 2014), including e-books and
e-audiobooks. E-materialshold several advantages over their physical counterparts, as they
are more portable, less prone to loss and damageand do not require users to physically visit
the library (Ashcroft, 2011). On the other hand, e-materials also present some challenges to
libraries and to users as they are often more expensive, are restricted by digital rights
management, have varying acquisition and distribution models depending on vendors and
The authors would like to thank Rachael Collins for her assistance in providing the checkout data for
this study.
Library digital
content
255
Received22 October 2018
Revised25 December 2018
16February 2019
Accepted20 March 2019
TheElectronic Library
Vol.37 No. 2, 2019
pp. 255-262
© Emerald Publishing Limited
0264-0473
DOI 10.1108/EL-10-2018-0208
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0264-0473.htm

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