Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) at Royal Holloway

Anna Grigson presented a case study of PDA or demand driven acquisition at Royal Holloway as a breakout session at the UKSG 2012 conference.  They decided to pilot PDA because of the mismatch between what the library has and what users want. It is estimated that up to 40% of budgets are wasted buying stock that users do not want. The benefits of PDA are:

–          users get just in time access

–          the library gets better value and staff time is saved

–          the collection is a better fit to user need

Anna described the various different PDA models available: Purchase, Rental, capped pay per view and evidence based selection.

Implementation process

They opted for the Rental Model and they set the following criteria:

–          £10,000 of the acquisitions budget would be set aside for the pilot

–          Review after one term

–          Offered access to 120,000 ebooks; all subjects were included but exclusions applied to ebooks over £250, some languages & some academic publishers

–          Threshold to purchase was set at 4th view of item

–          Each user was limited to 3 loans per day & the length of loan was limited to 1 day

–          There was no mediation, so when the user clicked on the link it went straight to the ebook rather than waiting for librarian approval

–          There was no publicity


Problems with implementation

–          finalising exclusion criteria was difficult

–          deduplicating existing ebooks was difficult because of issues around ISBNs which meant some ebooks were purchased again

–          loading the records on to the library catalogue needed to be done in batches of 10,000 and there was a few weeks delay in loading them on to their resource discovery, Summon


–          the first use was within 30 minutes of adding records to the catalogue

–          the first purchase was triggered within a couple of days

–          the pilot was ended after 6 weeks as all the allocated money had been spent – it seems a term was optimistic! – with 70% of the budget spent on renting ebooks and 30% spent on purchasing ebooks



Royal Holloway still want to go ahead with PDA but would like to explore capped pay per view, the model used by JISC. They would reduce the number of ebooks made available, introduce mediation and also make it clear to the user on the library catalogue which texts are part of the library’s collection and which are not.


Other institutions were invited to share their experience of PDA:

At Kings College they have amended their ILL workflow and will check to see if an item is available via PDA and if it is will direct the user that.

At Newcastle University they currently spend 1/3 of their acquisitions budget on PDA. They piloted with £75,000, which like Royal Holloway, found was spent up very quickly. The service was mainly used by final year students and users from faculties who were scoring low on the NSS. When the library spoke with academics about the use of PDA academics were very concerned about what students would purchase. However they were pleasantly surprised by the breadth of reading and in some instances lecturers updated their reading lists to reflect these new purchases.

There was also an interesting debate around whether it should be PD Acquisition or PD Access. Rather than collection building and owning material there was a suggestion we should be moving towards providing access to content at article and chapter level as this is what users want.

A copy of Anna’s slides can be viewed here




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