On October 16, Library Journal and School Library Journal will host “The Digital Shift: Reinventing Libraries.” Our fourth annual online event has itself been reinvented in a new format, offering program tracks focused around community, instruction, and getting beyond the container to new content.
EBSCO is a platinum sponsor of the event, and LJ reached out to Scott Wasinger, Vice President of Sales for eBooks and Audiobooks at EBSCO Publishing, in the third of a series of interviews addressing how the ongoing digital shift is transforming the libraries of today and tomorrow.
Library Journal: What do you predict will be the next big disruption/innovation to impact the library landscape?
Scott Wasinger: I would like to say something about the dramatic shift from print to electronic books, but that is no longer unexpected. I would have a hard time finding anyone to argue passionately with me about that, which is no fun at all. So instead, I will say the next big shift in the library world will be the fall of the traditional catalog and the corresponding rise of fully-integrated and far superior discovery services. This trend has, of course, gotten underway, but it should reach a new level and become a true large-scale change in the years ahead.
LJ: How does your company’s strategy reflect this?
SW: More and more libraries are using EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) for the very reasons the industry as a whole will soon reach a point where discovery services supplant traditional catalogs. Taking patron driven acquisition of ebooks as just one example: going the catalog route, libraries must expend limited resources to customize, load, reload, remove, add, and replace MARC records; going the EDS route, libraries are able to eliminate these MARC record costs and deliver a much better experience to users, as the ebooks are made discoverable and accessible immediately with no dependency on MARC records. In addition, in the case of EBSCO ebooks, they are made more discoverable providing for a better end user experience because they are full-text searched. EBSCO Information Services also sets itself apart by providing complete and flexible solutions through partnerships for ILS integration. Instead of forcing libraries into a single proprietary ILS, we partner with multiple ILS providers, so libraries can make the best ILS choices and leverage their existing systems.
LJ: When, if ever, will libraries be primarily digital, and what will people still use print for?
SW: Most libraries across markets will be predominantly digital, in terms of new content acquisition, within three years. Print will continue to be used when it is the only option and to a much lesser and diminishing degree in cases where users do not have the interest or wherewithal to select digital over print. Ebook-related technology will continue to rapidly evolve, simplifying and streamlining ebook acquisition and management for libraries, and making ebook adoption and usage easier for end users. That part is a given. More of an unknown, which will play out in the next few years, is the extent to which not-yet-fully-digital publishers will move to digital. EBSCO is actively working on each front, developing EBSCO and partner services to stay ahead of technology needs, and working with publishers to aggressively grow the pool of ebook content that libraries can select from.
LJ: What do you hear from libraries that their greatest needs are, and how are you striving to meet them?
SW: On the ebook front, libraries are looking for flexibility, innovation, and value. We are aggressively adding as much new quality content as possible, both from our existing publisher partners and from new publishers, and we are doing so under the best and most flexible terms allowed. We provide multiple ordering options, including YBP’s GOBI, Ingram’s/Coutts’ OASIS, and our own EBSCOhost Collection Manager. We offer a variety of business model options designed to complement each other and to meet each library’s unique needs, including purchase at single, three, and unlimited concurrent user levels; Patron Driven Acquisition; patron driven short-term loan; loan-to-own; unlimited user subscription; and more to come. Libraries always have the option to order only the individual titles they need, never being forced to acquire a collection to get what is needed. EBSCO ebooks are fully integrated into the powerful and familiar EBSCOhost and EDS interfaces, which are continuously enhanced to provide the best user experience. Finally, publisher-suggested list prices are charged and nothing more; no markup and no fees of any sort are ever applied.
LJ: What business will libraries get into that is undreamt of today?
SW: Libraries will become gateways to less mainstream electronic content, for example institutional ebooks and documents, recordings of local performances, interviews with local figures, and other content of particular relevance to the library. Local digitized collections have been around for a while. What has not been around is the technology for libraries to effectively create, manage, grow, and drive usage of these collections. In doing so, libraries become a simple window into this content, not only for users of their own library, but also for users of other libraries around the world. Apply services like BiblioLabs to easily fulfill this role, add to this the library’s role as provider of mainstream content, complement with high-demand content such as EBSCO eBooks, utilize solutions like EBSCO Discovery Service to seamlessly blend content from multiple sources thereby growing discovery and usage—and just like that, library relevance and usage takes a big step forward.
Scott Wasinger is Vice President of Sales for eBooks and Audiobooks at EBSCO Publishing. Prior to EBSCO Publishing entering the ebook market in 2010, Scott spent five years managing OCLC’s ebook business. With his previous 13 years at IHS, he brings over 20 years of eContent experience to bear in creating the best ebook and audiobook solutions for libraries worldwide.