Growing e-book collection offers advantages to off-campus students

Jamie Taylor

Imagine doing research for a paper using actual reference sources without leaving the house or checking out books from the library. The University Library and OhioLINK offer this option to students with the use of e-books.

E-books are electronic versions of reference and literature books students can view online instead of having to check out a hard copy from the library. About 25,000 e-books are available on OhioLINK, and the library has access to eight other collections available to students through the library’s Web site, said Tom Klingler, assistant dean for systems and technical services.

The library’s collection of e-books can be found through its Web site or through OhioLINK. Students not on campus can view the e-books online through OhioLINK after setting up an off-campus proxy.

Joseph Salem, head of reference and government information services, said the e-books are especially helpful for distance learners and off-campus students.

“We answer questions through e-mail and on IM and often refer those students to e-books when they can meet their needs,” Salem said.

Lisa Kress, a graduate student in community counseling, said she’s used e-books through OhioLINK many times throughout her academic career.

“I think there is a good compilation of resources available to students, and I used it a lot because it is easy to find legitimate articles and books on varies topics,” Kress said.

The e-books’ technology is still in the early stages, so this can bring about some problems with purchasing and organizing the material.

“The main problem has been working with the different companies from different locations that all use different interfaces to try and create one location for students to go to,” Klingler said.

Klingler has recently closed three deals to expand the collection further.

The first was with the ABC-CLIO publishing company and will provide the library with electronic reference books, encyclopedias, handbooks, biographical collections, and guides on many specialized topics, primarily in the humanities and social sciences.

The second was with the Oxford University Press and will provide the library with many scholarly books, both classic and newly published. These new e-books are also primarily in the humanities and social sciences.

The third deal that was recently closed was with Springer Publishing. This deal – the largest to date – will provide the library with an electronic collection of technological and medical books. The collection also includes non-reference literature.

The Springer records will be added to KentLINK for the Spring 2008 semester.

“The Springer series is what we are excited for. It means we will receive about five to six thousand new e-books annually.

“Kent paid $24,000 but received five times the amount of material we normally would have,” said Klingler.

The collection, however, is far from finished. There are deals in the works to purchase e-books from Gale Literary Criticism Series, Gale Virtual Reference Library, Sage Publishing, Wiley-Blackwell and Elsevier Publishing.

Contact Library and

Information Services reporter

Jamie Taylor at [email protected].