“Patron-driven acquisitions” (PDA) was a hot topic at the XXX Annual Charleston Conference: Issues in Book and Serial Acquisition. Basically, with PDA, a library agrees to let a vendor populate its ILS with bibliographic records for e-books, based on some agreed-upon criteria. The library budgets a certain amount it will spend to buy some of these e-books. Patrons have immediate access to these e-books, whether or not the library has purchased them. When a given e-book is “used” (I think the criteria for “used” vary somewhat from agreement to agreement) a certain number of times (I’ve heard three-to-ten), the library automatically purchases the book for the collections.
Much of the talk at Charleston was about how to make this work for your library. There was a testimonial about how much money was “saved,” but the savings were based on the condition: if the library had bought—and bought only—every e-book a patron accessed in the collection.
The arguments for PDA include spending less time spent selecting titles with no guarantee of a given title’s usefulness and speeding up patrons’ access to information they want. For these reasons and others, it’s difficult to argue against PDA from a service perspective.