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Saturday, November 29, 2014

WCC Expands Virtual Library Collection

By Nancy Clay

WCC’s Bailey Library exploded with research material last summer when it subscribed to an e-book collection called ebrary.

“We started with 70,000 ebrary e-books that are popular with academic libraries, but at last count we had about 71,000 books,” said Victor Liu, dean of Learning Resources. “Every month, ebrary withdraws some titles and adds others, keeping the collection current.”

The ebrary subscription provides access to almost 91,000 e-books when combined with the 20,000 WCC purchased several years ago through a statewide consortium. Students like Otho Ulrich have noticed the increase. Ulrich is studying computer science and is very happy with the addition of new materials.

“Once you’re logged in, you can access these books anywhere through your web browser,” Ulrich said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on a Mac or Windows, at home or on campus. I was very impressed that I could get in through Linux.”

The e-books don’t come with checkouts, overdue fines, or limits to simultaneous readers, said Liu. Users can print up to 60 pages and download chapters or selected pages.

Liu said a user can download up to 10 e-books at one time. There’s even an ebrary app for iPhones and iPads.

“With Adobe Digital Edition, we can download the entire book for up to 14 days, which is great,” Ulrich said. He also likes the consolidated one-search function on the library’s homepage that returns all of the library’s resources—from print to periodicals to e-books—in a single search.

Start With the Library’s ebrary Page

On WCC’s ebrary page, students will find search functions and links to books in broad topic areas:

  • Anthropology
  • Business and economics
  • Computers and IT
  • Education
  • Engineering and technology
  • Fine arts
  • History
  • Language and literature
  • Law
  • Life sciences
  • Medicine
  • Physical sciences
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Social sciences

Users can highlight passages in the ebrary e-books, write and save notes, and store the e-books on their own electronic bookshelves. They also can search for other resources through topical searches within ebrary.

When users copy and paste information from ebrary books, the system provides citation information for footnotes or bibliographies. However, it’s not formatted for commonly used writing styles like MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), or the Chicago Manual of Style.

Liu stresses that the ebrary e-book collection provides materials to supplement research for the College community. “This is not an e-textbook system, which is entirely different,” he said.

However, Ulrich found that some of the books required for his classes were available through WCC’s e-book collection. “For those classes, I saved some money because I read the books online,” he said. “Students should at least check and see if their required books are there. They might be.”

E-books Cost Library Less

Liu loves the relatively low cost of the ebrary subscription through the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services: $10,000 a year. “Our book budget has been flat for the last few years, so this really helps expand our research capabilities,” he said.

Although WCC could purchase popular e-books permanently from ebrary, it’s not a very cost-effective option, Liu said. “Right now, each ebrary e-book only costs us 15 cents a year for the licensing fee,” he said. “The average price to purchase an e-book is $35, so the book would probably be outdated long before we broke even.”

He also is pleased that the system offers text-to-speech to assist visually impaired users.

Collection Supports WCC Studies

Students, staff, and faculty with a WCC Net ID and password can access Bailey’s e-book collection anytime from anywhere. Community members are welcome to come to campus and access e-book materials at the Bailey Library. Members of the community also can purchase a $15 community user card to check out print materials from WCC’s library.

Bailey’s print collection is very curriculum driven, Liu said. “We look at our circulation figures, enrollment by discipline, and the cost of print publications,” he said. “And then we make hard choices. Our faculty is often involved as we choose print books.

“We lease a browsing collection of 300 print books, mostly bestselling popular titles of fiction and nonfiction. Those books are refreshed each month, with some taken out and some new ones added,” Liu said.

Nancy Clay is a freelance writer.

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