ebrary review

Review by CCL-EAR Committee

ebrary, a product offered by ProQuest, is an aggregator of ebooks and journals. The consortium currently offers a product called Community and Career Collection.

While the collection does not include ebooks with perpetual access rights, ebrary’s subscription model allows libraries to have immediate access to a collection of over 23,000 ebooks, all with multiple access rights.┬áThe database offers users two different feature-rich reading applications that enhance the online reading experience.

ebrary’s scope, content, and currency make it a good choice for community college libraries.

Download the full text of our review for more details.

Committee’s Overall Assessment:

Committee’s Standard Evaluation Chart:

Database Content
Search Interface
User Support Services
Cost
Accessibility/Availability of Service

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Visitor rating
Rating: 1.5/4 (2 votes cast)

If you have any experience with this product, please leave a comment and rate its appropriateness for use in a community college environment.

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2 Responses to “ebrary review”

  1. Randall Gust's rating and/or comments:

    Has anyone else found the following review comment not to be the case?

    “COUNTER compliant usage statistics track ebook usage by subject (can be limited by calendar date, month, and day of week), number of sessions, documents viewed, page views, pages copied, and pages printed.”

    According to Tech Support, ebrary offers number of searches run and section reports (sessions?):
    “ebrary does not provide an entire book (yet) in one continuous download. Therefore, [COUNTER] Book Report 1 does not apply and section reports (ebrary clearly defines a section as a page views, copied page, or printed page) would be valid.”

    We have not found stats by subject and have found the section (probably called “sessions” in the downloaded) reports not to be particularly useful. We asked for but were not provided data that we do find useful: numbers for unique logins, memberships, and books viewed.

    As it stands, ebrary does not provide usage statistics that we believe could be used to justify the cost of the subscription.

  2. Brian Greene's rating and/or comments:

    My rating and the following comments reflect my recent experience working through a billing and customer service problem with ebrary/ProQuest; they do not take into account my opinion of ebrary’s content.

    Last year I joined a new library and inherited an ebrary subscription* that had been continuously renewed since 2006. Earlier this year I received a renewal notice and questioned the high cost, at which point I learned that we qualified for a substantially less expensive (>50%) subscription. According to the representatives I’ve spoken with, ebrary’s pricing model has kept their introductory price essentially unchanged since at least 2006 while many/all current subscribers received yearly increases of roughly 10%. The end result is that institutions with younger subscriptions would see less expensive rates indefinitely. This is the opposite of most other models I’m familiar with in that usually older subscriptions receive the better rates, and, in any case, is frustrating from the standpoint of an institution with an older subscription.

    Here is the rub: even though the ebrary folks I’ve spoken with agreed the model is problematic, they are only willing to give us the new rate starting with our next subscription. Their position is that we agreed to the higher rate when we renewed each year and that their offer to lower the rate in the future is analogous to phone companies offering deals to some customer but not others. I disagree in that they are not offering us a ‘deal’ but rather access to an entirely different pricing system that we qualified for years ago but didn’t know existed. Furthermore, even accepting their argument (which I don’t), I see no reason why we shouldn’t receive a credit for the as yet unused portion of our current subscription. Of course contracts are king and I’ve been told that our contract supports ebrary’s position with specific clauses that are not on my copy of the contract. Meanwhile ebrary has not responded to my requests to see their copy of the contract. In fact, one of my biggest complaints from this ordeal is that ebrary and ProQuest have been slow to address this issue since it came to light.

    Database pricing is an opaque affair so I’m not 100% surprised to learn that ebrary has parallel pricing models. My advice: if you have a ebrary subscription direct from ProQuest check to see if your institution is in the proper pricing model. If you don’t have an ebrary subscription consider whether you want to support such pricing practices and poor customer service. My hope is that libraries and our various organizations will advocate for more transparent database pricing and equitable pricing models. Not only that, but we should all vote with our database dollars for vendors that comply.

    Thank you for your time.

    *ebrary has various products and I don’t know if the pricing models I describe here pertain to some or all of them. In addition, presumably folks subscribing through CCL are much less likely to have this sort of problem given they way the deals are negotiated for the consortium.

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