The E-BASS25 blog serves as an archive of the project, running from July 2012 until March 2013, until the final project output, a decision-making toolkit, is available via the JISC website.


We’ve collected some of the key posts below, but please feel free to browse the blog posts for further insights into the project.

Agendas and minutes of all project board and team meetings have been collected here.

The final report is now available at:
Benefits Challenges

E-BASS25 has produced a case study looking at the Orbis Cascade Alliance‘s experiences of procuring e-books as a consortium. The Case study is now available:

Orbis Cascade Case Study

We are pleased to announce that the final copies of a number of the E-BASS25 reports are now available to download from this blog. These include:

Systems Integration Guidelines Report WP6

Procurement Guidelines EBASS 25 version 9 – FINAL VERSION (3)

Report on the Nature of Library Consortia The Nature of Library Consortia

After its world premiere at the E-BASS25 end of project briefing event, I’m pleased to announce the the final version of the E-BASS25 video is now live on YouTube.



Creative Commons License
E-BASS25 Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) e-book purchasing models by E-BASS25 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Many, many thanks to Anna Grigson, David Kay, Dominic Tate and

NB. The URL at the end of this video is not live as yet, as the toolkit is still in production. The blog will be updated with details, so please do keep following.

– Kim Coles, Project Officer

The E-BASS25 Project will be drawing to a close at the end of February, so after of Monday’s wrap-up event in London, I thought I’d drop a few lines reflecting on the work completed so far.

On the nature of PDA…

The project has been successful at defining the following four models for PDA, which could be used by individual libraries, or within the context of a consortium of libraries looking to purchase e-books together.

The four models apply different principles to the concept of PDA.  The first three (PDA Purchase, PDA Rental and PDA Usage) are variations on a theme of payment.  Effectively, the spread of titles your customers are able to access varies according to the library’s attitude towards payment and ownership.

Imagine a library has £1000.  If the library wishes to use this money only to buy new material then PDA will allow them to do this easily, but they will buy few books.  If the library is happy to use some of the money to rent, then it will end the term with fewer books, but its patrons will have accessed a wider spread of content.  A library wishing to spend all the money on micropayments will own very few books for the money, but its patrons are likely to have accessed the largest number of books to some extent.

This brings us to the fourth model, PDA Evidence.  Seemingly the most popular amongst librarians and publishers alike, this model allows patrons to access a whole range of content during the course of the agreement, with the guarantee that all the money will be spent on whole books at the end.  Sounds ideal?  Well, almost.  Here’s the rub.  The library can choose which books they buy at the end of the agreement.  This is great for library choice, but surely this is not actually PDA? There is an intervention between the patron and the purchase.  Surely this adds an administrative burden that PDA was designed to eliminate?  Perhaps this model could still achieve cost savings when scaled up to a large consortium?

On the Nature of Consortia…

Library Consortia are organisations I have known of and dealt with for years, but it is only really through E-BASS25 that I have spent time pondering and analysing the nature, structure and purpose of various library consortia.

As detailed in the project, there are certain consortia with a strong sense of identity (normally national, regional or subject-allegiance) which have a successful history of consortial purchasing.  This type of consortium is often to be found within a single US state (OhioLINK) or a small group of adjacent states.  This side of the pond, these consortia are often found in smaller but well-developed Western European countries with populations of around 4 million (e.g. Finland, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland).

Larger consortia can be unwieldy and can contain very diverse organisations.  In these types of consortia, opt-in deals are the way forward, and considerable leadership and administration from the consortium is needed to manage the deals.

The Way Forward…

I believe that consortial e-book purchasing through M25 can work, but it needs strong leadership to bring the deal together.  The consortium would need to assert the way the deal would have to look, its model, parameters and content, giving its members the chance to opt-in to achieve maximum savings.

A consortium has strength to strike a deal with a publisher because its size maximises sales for the publisher and reduces their overheads of dealing with individual customers.  Libraries similarly benefit through reduced overheads and similar costs so consortial purchasing in an obvious win-win.

Through the size and diversity of its membership, M25 has the capability of putting together a sizeable consortium for the acquisition of e-books and it seems obvious that the only way this could be achieved is by using the evidence-based model.  Those wishing to participate would club their guaranteed spends together to achieve the highest possible discount.  At the end of the term, those books every partner wants would be bought.  The remaining fund could be divided up in line with the initial deposit, with each partner choosing their books.

A number of publishers may also be interested in trilling this approach to see if success could be achieved in practice.  Such an approach would be a departure from conventional purchasing practices and would require significant guidance from the consortium and there is always a chance it might not work, but, hey, perhaps M25 should give it a try?  If we don’t give it a try, we’ll never know.  Over to M25…

-Dominic Tate, M25 Project Manager

The end of project briefing took place yesterday, Monday 18th February at Birkbeck, University of London. The event was well-attended, and the project team would like to thank all attendees for their contributions.


Building on feedback from the mid-­‐project workshop in November, the principal partners (Royal Holloway, University of London; Kingston University; the Science Museum; JISC Collections) have combined desk research and conversations (directly involving publishers and other supply chain actors) in order to

• Scope the current e-­book acquisition landscape, both for individual collections and for consortia
• Understand the constraints and inhibitors at play in terms of cost, collection development, management systems and user experience • Categorise the strengths and weaknesses of the key models
• Identify approaches where M25 may assist groups of members to maximize benefits

This briefing is therefore an opportunity to access practical advice that will be of use all libraries, museums, archive and galleries for whom e-book access is important.

Agenda and Presentations

EBASS25 briefing event agenda

PDA Models presentation, Owen Stephens

EBASS25 Survey Highlights, David Kay

EBASS25 Publishers, JISC Collections

EBASS25 Systems, Helen Guile

EBASS25 Final Event John Tuck, John Tuck

The EBASS25 project has been funded by JISC to identify feasible models and practical guidelines for acquisition/licensing of e-books as a shared service, with a view to maximizing the benefits for M25 libraries ( Whilst Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) is a major interest, this work seeks to take a holistic and longer term view of e–Book acquisition options.

Following a well attended workshop in November attended by over 20 M25 institutions (, the project conducted an institutional survey (one response per M25 member) to assess opinions, local commitments and opportunities for consortial action. A total of 30 institutional responses (60% of M25 members) were received to questions covering collection focus, blockages, models, pros & cons of consortia, current suppliers, and open access services.

The priority motivations in offering user e-book choice were:

  • Availability of key titles (e.g. Course Reserve) – 100%
  • Transformation – Encourage user movement to e-access – 80%
  • Enhancement – Supplementing the print collection – 73%

Supporting popularity per se and opening up a long tail of titles were regarded as significantly lower priorities.

The most significant blockages preventing e-books from fulfilling their potential were identified as:

  • Business models offered by publishers – 87%
  • Availability of titles and especially text books – 73%

Issues of devices and formats were regarded as much less significant in academic institutions.

Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) was approved by a significant majority: 

  • It was seen as a user-centred approach that should be applied to more aspects of the library collection – 80%
  • It was not to be dismissed as a temporary supplier driven tactic – 73%

Best value in e-book acquisition was potentially to be delivered by a range of models that contribute to collection development as well as satisfying immediate demand:

  • Respondents highly valued library driven purchase models informed by usage statistics over a rental period – 90%
  • They also recognized value in models involving the professional expertise of librarians, lecturers, etc – 73%
  • They challenged the value of access based on a rental / subscription model or on a pay-per-use model NOT leading to ownership – 67%

For more information about the e-book acquisition options referenced here you may find this blog post helpful –

A consortium approach to e-book acquisition was expected to deliver value from:

  • Using scale to achieve best price – 97%
  • Making a bigger collection accessible – 97%
  • Reducing the burden of procurement and administration – 80%

In addition every respondent recognized value in sharing expertise.

Most significant concerns about working in a consortium to acquire e-books were:

  • Being driven by subject interests that are not relevant – 80%
  • Being driven by demand from larger institutions – 70%

Complexity and inflexibility of arrangements was not such a major concern.

Further detail on the breakdown of responses is provided in the attached presentation:

130218 EBASS25 Survey Highlights

– Summarised by David Kay & Helen Harrop, Sero Consulting


It is with great pleasure that I am able to post this report resulting from the research undertaken by Ben Taplin & Carolyn Alderson of JISC Collections.  Ben & Carolyn contacted a variety of publishers about the four business models for patron-driven acquisition identified in the E-BASS25 project, and sought their feedback on each of the models.  As always, it is interesting to see things from the publishers’ point of view so I would encourgae all those interested to read the report:

JISC Collections EBASS report

In addition, I would encourgae you to comment on this report using this blog or, if you prefer, by contacting me at


Dominic Tate – E-BASS25 Project Manager.

On Wednesday 30th January myself and Dominic Tate, attended the Library Systems Programme Meeting, held in Birmingham, to hear more on the progress of the other pathfinder projects and  the synthesis project LMS Change. It was a very valuable day.

From my perspective, developing ideas for Work Package 6 of the E-BASS 25 project, a couple of areas discussed really had resonance. Glyn Ryland from the Library Systems Shared Services Feasibility Study (Wales) spoke about different degrees of collaboration possible in sharing library management systems; from group purchase level, to complete integration with all members sharing a single LMS. This in turn prompted discussion of what resources get shared and to what degree; data, staff, systems? In the afternoon we broke into two groups, myself and Dominic were in the group which discussed the ‘overheads’ of collaborative work. We concluded that overheads can only be mitigated if you have decided, clearly what to share and to what degree and why.

These threads of discussion led me to re-examine my work on WP6. In considering e-books acquisition as a shared service, what elements are shared and to what degree? In my upcoming report I will discuss the difficulties of managing data for PDA discovery.  The collaboration envisaged is one where there isn’t a shared library system, and each member could have differing requirements of the e-book data dependent on their available system; so in fact, although the collection might be in common the data is not. What kind of overheads might that incur? In discussing the management of financial information, the ‘overheads’ associated with not identifying the correct level of collaboration are also apparent. If each institution were to contribute a sum upfront, that would need to be administered centrally. Would the collaboration be able to share staff and data to achieve this? However, if local practice were to dictate that the contributed sum be accounted for in the individual institutional systems, the collaboration fragments so the physical payments might be done as a shared service, but the data about those transactions is treated separately, how prohibitive would the overheads become in this scenario?  It is certainly enlightening to look at the elements of e-books as a shared service in this manner and locate areas which might generate significant overheads.

Helen Guile – Kingston University