E-Lending pilot project: borrowing academic e-books

Until recently, the possibility of accessing electronic books from ETH-Bibliothek’s holdings flexibly from your own PC or terminal device was reserved for members of ETH Zurich. In a pilot project, more than 26,000 academic e-books are now being made digitally accessible for the broad, interested public.

ETH-Bibliothek has been procuring e-books  and listing them in its catalogue for around fifteen years. The volume of electronically published books in the fields of science and technology, which has especially ballooned since 2007, and the growing interest in electronically available information resources on the part of research have triggered a steady increase in the number of E-Books on offer – a development that is clearly evident from ETH-Bibliothek’s procurement figures.


Figure 1: e-books holdings recorded in the catalogue from 2011 to 2015

Until June 2013, however, the public were only able to use the extensive e-book service on ETH-Bibliothek premises. This meant a usage restriction for almost half its customers (i.e. students from other universities, private individuals and companies). In order to achieve its aspiration of enabling flexible access to e-books equally for all users of ETH-Bibliothek, the E-Lending project was launched in 2010.

In a pilot project, ETH-Bibliothek has now been offering all library customers digital access to more than 26,000 e-books from its holdings since July 2013. The e-books can be borrowed electronically. The pilot project will run until around mid-2014 and, among other things, should reveal whether the form of service meets the current needs of the readers. To this end, usage statistics are being recorded in an anonymised form during the pilot project. A survey is also being conducted in parallel, which should provide further insights.

The borrowable e-books are accessible via a separate tab on ETH-Bibliothek’s Knowledge Portal:

E-Books über das Wissensportal

Figure 3: access to E-Books via ETH-Bibliothek’s Knowledge Portal

After a search has been launched, the e-books that can be borrowed on the search term used are listed in the fourth tab of the search results. If you want to browse the entire e-book range, you can access a complete list by entering the search term “elending”. Through faceting in the right-hand sidebar, the entire e-book service can then be narrowed down to the desired topic.

In order to view a selected e-book or borrow it directly, “Details” can initially be accessed in the book’s display field before selecting “e-book loan”.

Zugang zur Ausleihe von E-Books

Figure 4: Access to e-books borrowing

Anyone who would like more detailed information on the procedure and technical prerequisites will find the E-Lending instructions on the Knowledge Portal helpful. You essentially reach your e-book in four steps:

  1. Login – register
  2. E-book search
  3. Online browsing – e-book preview
  4. E-Lending – borrowing an e-book

It is especially important to us for as many people as possible test the E-Lending service and take part in our survey on the pilot project. The results will help us to refine the service as practically as possible.

The launch of the pilot project constitutes a major initial milestone for ETH-Bibliothek. The goal is now to pave the way for as broad a range of borrowable e-books as possible. All the larger publishing houses from whom ETH-Bibliothek procures e-books were asked to participate in the pilot project. To date, four have agreed to a cooperation for test purposes: De Gruyter, Morgan & Claypool, Springer and World Scientific Publishing Co. Many other publishers, however, still need to be persuaded to join in E-Lending. In order to keep abreast of the changing user habits and at the same time live up to our public responsibility in full, ETH-Bibliothek’s goal is to get as many more publishing houses as possible on board for a collaboration.

Author: Maximiliane Okonnek
Coauthor: Gabriella Padovan, Project coordination E-Lending

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License.

DOI Link: 10.16911/ethz-ib-1081-en

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