30 November 2021 Blogs, Academic, Librarian, Faculty

Four Essential Steps to Building Effective, Affordable e-Collections

Where to start and what to focus on when you’re making the shift to e-content

There’s no denying that growing the percentage of e-content in library collections is more essential than ever before. E-content enables faculty and students to access collections anytime, anywhere – critical for supporting remote and hybrid learning. Plus, with the need for shelf space reduced, libraries can repurpose space, supporting institutional needs for collaboration space, conference rooms and social distancing.

The challenges for many libraries are where to start, what to focus on and how to make the switch quickly and affordably. In a recent Choice webinar, Courtney Fuson, Asset Manager Librarian at Nashville’s Belmont University, and ProQuest teamed up to share insights into how to make the shift in ways that are effective, low stress and affordable.

Where to start:

    1. Define your goal. What are you trying to achieve? For Belmont, the goal was to make the most efficient use of shelf space as the library renovated, reorganized and integrated the collections of two other libraries. The library’s path became one of space reclamation.
    2. Analyze your collection. What portions of your print collection are available in electronic format? Books are a great start and there’s so much more to consider. The past two decades have seen an explosion in the demand for a variety of digitized content – government documents, historical periodicals and newspapers, reports, ephemera, music scores, videos and even comic books.
    3. Prioritize. In the absence of a budget windfall, you won’t be able to replace all your print materials, so identify priority items and areas. If your goal is supporting more remote access to content, usage metrics can point you in the right direction. Then, bolster with other sources from outside your library: check lists of award winners and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) lists to be sure highly rated sources are at the top of your list.
    4. Get the best price… sometimes that’s zero. In addition to shopping discounts with vendors and bundling resources to get better prices, remember to think about resources you might borrow from other libraries. Solutions like Rapido and RapidILL are making resource sharing faster and easier, with free transactions between libraries cutting costs dramatically.


Services like ProQuest’s free Title Matching Fast (TMF) can handle much of the time-consuming work of analyzing and even provide data for prioritization. Belmont University has used TMF reports in a variety of ways to help them work smart and fast during a time of great change in the library: identifying which titles the library has in print and e format, so they can cull print from shelves; Assessing e-conversion costs for budgeting purposes; and, most of all, to guide purchasing.

“We have primarily used TMF for end of year purchases as a way to spend one-time funds while also freeing up room on our shelves,” said Fuson. “We were thrilled with the turnaround time on the invoicing this year as well, since we were working on a very tight deadline.”

If you’re ready for “e” now, ProQuest can help with an extraordinary range of content (surprisingly affordable) and a free, comprehensive TMF report that matches physical books and historical periodicals to e-versions. We’re ready to help you find e-resources that help you reach your goals.