New Patron Initiated Models in Library Acquisitions

The new catch-word in today’s world of library acquisitions, where resources are subscribed to or bought to add to a library’s collections by the ordinary user, is patron-initiated acquisition (PIA) or patron driven acquisitions (PDA). In reality, this is not a new concept. Every time a faculty member or library patron requests an item via a library’s recommendation form or via a librarian directly, a patron is in fact initiating the process of acquiring the item. But what if through the use of technology the patron can trigger direct purchases via the number of times patrons request the item using library department statistics or using usage statistics in the digital world. This is already happening in academic libraries through projects set up for print material acquisitions such as the Getting It System Toolkit Project developed at SUNY Geneseo or with digital items such as e-books, online audio-books, and streaming videos through various vendors. Both processes are unknown to the patron, who is unaware of the permanent purchase of the item. For example, Patron A searches the catalog or goes directly to a popular e-book platform such as ebrary. When searching, an e-book comes up that is not currently owned by the library. In this case, the patron only reads the tables of contents so a purchase is not triggered. Patron B now accesses the same ebook but spends more time on the book or prints out a chapter.

CUNY will be experimenting soon with a collaborative form of PIA or PDA in which over 5,000 records will be loaded into the CUNY catalog. There are other purchasing models, including paid short-term loan models or usage driven acquisitions. This process creates a “just-in- time” library model of acquiring materials which overlays the traditional model of “just-in-case” library acquisitions. In the traditional model, recommendations are based on the potential use of a book, which is not guaranteed. A mixture of both models creates a balance in a library.

-Prof. Kerry Falloon, Acquisitions Librarian