News & Opinion

More Choices, More Decisions: Evaluating eContent

by on February 28, 2013

 

The Quoted Price

Of course, the quoted price is the ultimate determining factor in adding a new digital service.  For every digital service and database we currently have, there are probably half a dozen we’d like to add, provided we had additional funding.

Deciphering that number on your quote is of ultimate importance.  What annual costs are associated with this eContent?  If there is a platform fee, and what exactly does that ambiguous phrase really cover? Are you required to make a minimum content purchase every year?  Are you purchasing or leasing that digital content?  And can you take it with you if you migrate to a new platform?  Does the vendor charge an automatic increase for renewals each year?

Don’t be afraid to ask the vendor those tough questions on specifics.  Better still, get those answers in writing.  After all, you’re considering the investment taxpayer dollars in his product.  It’s imperative to understand what you’re paying for, so explain it to your shareholders.

The Hidden Price

Training.  One of the components to consider is how much of a learning curve the new digital service will create.  At a minimum, you’ll need to educate your library team on what the service is and how it operates.  Select staff will need to learn more of the technical intricacies of the digital service, particularly the mechanics with the most popular tablets and devices.

Support.  A critical question to ask is: what level of support is offered from the vendor?  Is your library staff is going to be the frontline for troubleshooting customer issues with the digital service?  You’ll need to approximate how much staff time will be required to assist patrons with the digital service.   Ask the standard time frame for the vendor resolving issues and also factor your library staff time in follow-up with your users.

Public libraries can only benefit from the explosion of new choices in digital services. As long as we’re properly evaluating our eContent options, we can select and offer the best for our community.

Jen Tucker is currently reading A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy


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