Thursday, October 25, 2012

FASTER patron-driven acquisitions (PDA): a library model

OUR LIBRARY has pioneered what we believe is the first program of its kind in patron-driven acquisitions.

One of the problems with most library collections is that although they may be extensive, they can never be complete.  And when the patron requests books on a topic, for example, "theoretical experimental particle physics," although the library may pride itself on its exhaustive collection, with current on-demand and online publishing it can't ever call its collection complete.  So when the patron is given ten current books on "theoretical experimental particle physics," it is still a common occurrence whereby the patron will respond with infantile disappointment.

So the current model of collection development is broken.  Libraries can't ever hope to meet every need. We buy and buy, but it's never enough for some people.  So our library has adopted a new model that reduces our inability to fulfill our patrons' requests down to nearly zero.  If the material exists, we can get it.

Here is a typical PDA transaction at our library:

The patron has expressed a need for some online content and the librarian assesses the system requirements of the content and the system configuration held by the patron  to verify a match. When a match is found, for example, an iPad, the librarian will initiate the purchase by locating the item in the app and downloading it to the patron's device.

"Enter your password."


"This is how it works. Just do it."


"Now tap that."


"And it's downloading to your iPad.  And you can read it right now.  Pretty cool, huh."

"But I didn't want to spend *my* money!  That book was four *hundred* dollars!"

"But the library already spends your money through the taxes you pay.  This is faster."

"You DICK!"

As you can see from the model, the patron gets what they want, when they want it, but the cost to the library has also been reduced to nearly zero.

The uniqueness of this model is that the library does not spend any money, at all, for the item.  The content is delivered to the patron utilizing her own funds.

Patrons get their content when they want it and the library doesn't need to waste staff time creating payment systems for the various e-content retail outlets because the patrons already has those accounts configured on their own devices.

The previous model of collection building by purchasing (leasing) large expensive online products proved over the years to create a WIN-LOSE situation for libraries where patrons WIN by having access to vast online materials, but libraries LOSE by paying yearly maintenance fees to keep the content access current. This model creates a LOSE-WIN situation for the library.

The LOSE-WIN model, where patrons PAY money for their content when they want it is a BIG WIN for our library.  

Libraries can never anticipate demand for any book or magazine.  And other PDA models still suffered from the universal weakness of using library money for something that only one person wants.  Giving patrons the power to buy what they want when they want it with someone else's money was turning them into assholes and we believe this model corrects that behavior.

We believe that the patron-driven/patron-payment (PDPP) model satisfies many libraries' needs for faster delivery of content to their users.  Maybe you will, too.

1 comment:

  1. Well, before the PDPP model obtains sufficiently, it seems that you're assuming that the contextualized-retrieval/association-building(can't expect an information professional to do anything but flit about on the surface)-process, or CRA(b)P, would have actually achieved something besides the blowing of air and likely spittle.