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My personal ebook journey and the EBSCO eBook Academic Collection

We’ve all been talking about e-books for a long time.  And I am still unsure of a solution.  I know e-content needs vary.  But what our STHS students ask for most is nonfiction and reference-type content to support their research.

So, in terms of e-content . . .

I personally get less of . . .

Do you have the latest . . . ? (This could be a fiction or a nonfiction-type question.)

And, I get more of . . .

What do you have on . . .?

We circulate a few Kindles.  I have no trouble circulating popular authors and popular fiction in print. In fact, for now, my big readers seem to prefer print for their fiction.  Many of my students have their own devices and it seems that mom and dad are happy to feed them.

I already own quite a small collection wonderful e-reference from Gale and Salem and several other publishers.

Nevertheless, I am in the process of building ebook collections of high-demand content with my good friends from Follett and MackinVia.

I started with popular titles, the summer reading lists, our lit circle picks, and by supporting the most popular research projects–the Civil War, immigration, lit crit, etc.

What I am discovering is that developing even a small collection of high-demand titles is expensive, especially with the purchase of unlimited access.

I figure it would be more than twenty years before a carefully-selected nonfiction e-book collection looked anything like my carefully-selected nonfiction print collection.

Even if I did have those twenty years, my current freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors do not.

Frankly, I don’t have twenty years.  And frankly, I don’t need to own an ebook collection.

I am not really sure building a just-in-case collection really makes any sense anymore.  In fact, I know it doesn’t.

Clearly, my students research preference is for e-content no matter how much I try to make my print books talk and dance and talk like puppets:

They deserve this e-content as much as the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who follow them twenty years from now.

I must admit I was not all that happy with the subscription options out there.  NetLibrary, and its EBSCO eBook predecessor, never really addressed my students’ curricular and academic needs. The one-borrower-at-a-time model drove us crazy at project time.

But when we trialed EBSCO’s new e-Book Academic Collection in December with our senior project, we were hooked.

Our students were already familiar with the search interface and the refinement features.

EVERY senior found books to support his or her (often eclectic) interests.  The English classes found their beloved lit crit.  Global Studies found new depth and much needed background content for regional research, as well as handy news feeds in the right column.  AP US was delighted with new collections of primary sources and historical context by serious authors. Our superintendent found titles to support her research on academic leadership.

The product launched with 100,000 ebooks back in December.  It now offers a broad range of 114,000 multi-disclipinary titles.  I could never build/grow/buy a collection like that.

Titles are available with unlimited user access.  New items are added quarterly and the collection weeds itself.  The plan is to remove older titles or old editions once a year.

Our PA Account Executive, Angela Zaremba, admitted that publishers are reluctant to add their very new titles. (See David Vinjamuri’s The Wrong War Over eBooks for the way bigger arguments.).  But 2012 titles seem to do the trick for our research needs.  And perhaps, until the war is over, very new, in-demand titles may be an area to focus on for individual purchase.

I requested MARC records for the collection and was able to add them to my Destiny Catalog within minutes of receiving the files via email.  So our ebooks are now discoverable from links on our subject-specific LibGuides and our catalog.

Titles may be downloaded as Adobe digital editions files to the Kindle Fire and iPad or uploaded into iTunes.  After registering, students seemed very happy with the download, printing,

We subscribed with a midyear pro-rated subscription.  The $3000 subscription price is comparable to our other popular databases.

If you gather of five schools, or buy with a consortium, prices are discounted.

The eBook Academic Collection covers:

  • Art
  • Business & Economics
  • Education
  • Language Arts & Discipline
  • Literary Criticism
  • Medical
  • Performing Arts
  • Philosophy
  • Poetry
  • Political Science
  • Religion
  • Social Science
  • Technology & Engineering
  • And many others…

Though I chose the e-Book Academic Collection for its comprehensive coverage, other pre-packaged collection options, as well as a few smaller featured collections, are designed for K12 reader/users:

  • eBook K-8 Collection:The eBook K-8 Collection contains approximately 4,800 titles chosen to support a quality learning experience for K-8 students across all subjects areas taught in elementary and middle schools. The collection also features a selection of Teacher Resources to support educators and administrators. This collection is available as an annual subscription with unlimited simultaneous access for users, and titles are continually added at no additional cost.

             Angela’s update: K-8 collection offers 4,800 titles for $795.

  • eBook High School Collection: This package contains approximately 5,100 eBook titles that support a quality learning experience across all academic subject areas, from History, to Language & Literature, to Science & Technology. Content includes a selection of classic literary works, important historical documents and general reference materials. The collection also features a selection of Teacher Resources to support educators and administrators. This collection is available as an annual subscription with unlimited simultaneous access for users, and titles are continually added at no additional cost.
    Angela’s update:  High School Collection, with a focus on CCSS, offers 5300 titles for $1795

My friend Karen Hornberger is currently test-driving the collection and exploring its pro/cons on a Google Doc with other PSLA colleagues.  The discussion is very interesting.  Look for her synthesis in an upcoming post.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Cathi Fuhrman says

    Thanks for such a timely blog post as school librarians are preparing for next year’s purchases. We are starting to explore Follett Digital Shelf. I’d love to hear your thoughts on comparisons of several different options. EBSCO versus Follett one time purchases versus Overdrive, etc.


  2. Thanks so much for this posting, Joyce. It’s so hard to keep up and I hadn’t tapped into EBSCO for ebooks before reading this. I have a very small collection of ebooks from Follett and MackinVia. Your posting inspired me to set up a trial with EBSCO which I’ll be trying out on Monday with a class doing research on the 1920’s. I’m excited to see how it will go.

    • Kathleen Cusick says

      Hi, Jane,

      I am wondering what your thoughts are after using EBSCO for your 1920’s project? What are your grade levels?

      • HI Kathleen, The class doing that research project are 11th graders. The teacher got feedback from his students and seemed quite happy with it. I have since encouraged a 9th grade class and a 12th grade class to use the database also for their research projects, but I don’t have feedback from them yet. I will likely subscribe next year if I can figure out the funding.


  1. […]  Joyce Valenza emailed me the day I made the Google Doc public sharing with me that she planned to blog that same day on the topic (I REALLY want to say “Great Minds think Alike” but, in truth, I’m honored to be […]

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