~ 22. September 2011 ~
I submitted the below at Ebsco’s support site yesterday. It’s funny because I was not a fan of netLibrary and I do think EBSCOhost is a better platform for the ebooks, but that really doesn’t even matter given the problems with session timeouts.
One important detail here: all of our netLibrary/Ebsco ebooks were purchased as part of collections shared with various members of a consortium of California community colleges. So the ripple effect of longer timeouts is much bigger than it otherwise would be.
I am writing to express my concern over the steep decline in access to ebooks we are seeing as a result of the transition of our netLibrary collection to EBSCOhost. Because EBSCOhost does not “close” ebooks until the end of an EBSCOhost session, which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to, potentially, hours after a user stops using the ebook, long periods go by when our concurrent user limit is effectively not 1, but 0. We are seeing a dramatic increase in turnaways.
In the 2010-11 academic year for the Sacramento City College netLibrary collection, turnaways as a percentage of total requests were 19%. For September 2011 alone up until now—bearing in mind that for many students research projects have not yet hit their peak—our turnaway rate in the Ebsco eBook Collection is 36%. For one highly-used title, students have been turned away in 78% of their requests (79 turnaways out of 101 total requests).
Ironically, I was excited about the transition’s potential to bring more exposure to our netLibrary e-book collection, which has been underutilized. Instead, because Ebsco neglected to take book “closing” into account, students are hitting walls and potentially getting the message that our e-books are simply not available to them.
I have heard from our consortium and from our Ebsco sales representative that Ebsco is working on a solution to this problem. We have not, however, heard anything about how high a priority this fix is, what specifically it will consist of, or when we can expect to see it implemented. Meanwhile we have heard that interface enhancements to the desktop and mobile EBSCOhost platforms are slated for this Fall. If these enhancements occur and we still have no assurance that our much more pressing e-book needs will be met, our confidence in Ebsco’s competence in serving its users will be severely shaken.
It is not only our existing Ebsco ebooks that are at issue here. Like many community college libraries, right now we are actively exploring our options for increasing our number of ebooks, which until now has consisted largely of consortium-purchased shared collections. It is unthinkable that we would purchase ebooks from Ebsco while these problems remain. I hope that fixing them has been escalated to your highest support levels and welcome any communication on when a solution will arrive.