Monday, July 27, 2015

eBook Economics: Accounting for Loss

We purchased our first eBooks in 2002. We bought a collection of 3,407 academic eBooks from company called NetLibrary for which we paid only $2,400 - an average of 70¢ per book! That same year we purchased twenty-two individual reference titles directly from a publisher for $50 each.  The next year we purchased another large collection of academic eBooks for $2,700 at an average of $1.18 per title. We have continued to purchase eBooks primarily in bulk when affordable packages of relevant topics became available to us. (But the costs have not remained this low over the years.)

Besides purchasing, we have subscribed to eBook services providing our students access to a growing (and changing) collection. For instance, in 2004 we began a subscription to eBrary which, at that time, included 20,000 eBooks on a wide array of academic subjects. Now that subscription alone includes about 127,230 titles. Add the 7,500 eBooks purchased from other sources and they outnumber the print books on the shelves. In 2010 when I last wrote about the economics of eBooks, we had “nearly as many” eBook titles as print books on the shelves. A lot has changed in eBook economics since then.

While the acquisition of eBooks has become commonplace for libraries, there continue to be questions about how to value and account for them as institutional assets. A real life example of how eBooks are different from print inventories has recently come up for us.

This word cloud was created with Wordle (
About mid-April our Systems and Technical Services Librarian, Jennifer Rich, discovered that she could not open one of our eBooks. After some troubleshooting, she contacted the vendor who manages that collection for us. While technical support worked on the issue, Jennifer discovered several other books that, even though our catalog indicates that we own them, were inaccessible to us. Upon further investigation, it seemed that all of the books she was having trouble with were part of one of the earliest packages that we purchased. Then the technical support informed her that the reason we don’t have access is that the company has no evidence of our purchasing that eBook collection. Suddenly, 2,297 eBooks were lost!

Three factors conspire against our ability to show proof of our purchase. First of all, the company we bought it from in 2003 sold its virtual assets to another vendor a few years ago. Many of our collections were acquired buy this very reputable library service vendor with whom we already had a long standing relationship. They have since enhanced their eBook interface and expanded their eBook department. All good! But perhaps our file was lost in the transition. Secondly, the HIU business office has changed accounting systems since we made the purchase. And third, since it was so long ago, we no longer have a paper trail to follow. The best we could do was to send the vendor a screenshot of an archived electronic record indicating that we had made a payment to the original company. (This issue remains unresolved as of this date.)

I could almost hear our university controller saying, “I was afraid of this!” I have learned from many deep conversations with him that these kinds of things are sticky issues for auditors. How do we count these virtual items as institutional assets? Because of the way we purchased them in bulk, are they worth the same as the purchase price or, do they, like print books, decrease in value over time? Yes, we can report the bargain purchase price of these eBooks, but print books are not valued by their purchase price but by an estimated market value. We figured that insurance against loss could not be figured the same way for digital items not held on our locally owned servers. But what is the estimated market value of an 12-year-old eBook?  

Because eBook subscriptions are subject to change and we cannot rely on specific titles being available next month we prefer ownership “forever.” Of course, we know that even with reliable financial files virtual forever is not the same as it is in the physical realm. Yet, consider this. We don’t keep all print books forever anyway. We routinely weed out obsolete materials to keep the collection fresh and relevant to our curriculum. Truth be known, if the 12-year-old eBooks currently under investigation were print books in the stacks, some of them would have been removed by now – particularly those on topics such as ten-year-old strategies for e-commerce. But the idea of weeding electronic books had not even entered my mind until now.

Economically speaking, we have nearly grown accustomed to the idea that eBooks are different from print books in terms of how they are purchased and assessed. Now that we were faced with a sudden loss of 2,297 eBooks, how does my next conversation with our controller begin? It's National Ice Cream Month. Maybe I will start with a scoop of his favorite flavor and go from there.


There are several ways to search for eBooks in the Darling Library Collection. Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) as well as video tutorials to help you (HIU login is required for access):


Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

We've Been Hacked!

UPDATE: The website is back up ready to meet your research needs!

The Darling Library's website ( has been hacked! The HIU Information Systems Department pulled the entire library server offline to contain the damage and protect the rest of the Hope International University online environment from being affected.

This means that any online library resource that normally requires your email address is unavailable.

Resources that are unavailable:

  • Research Databases such as ProQuest, EBSCOhost (journal articles)
  • eBooks
  • Library web pages
Right now the library's web pages show the following message saying we are undergoing scheduled downtime for maintenance.

The following resources are unaffected and are currently online:

The library is open for study, use of the Information Commons computers, and checking out books.

Darling Library Intersession Hours
Monday - Thursday: 12:00PM to 6:00PM
Friday: 12:00PM to 5:00PM
Saturday - Sunday: Closed

Contact the library if you have any questions:
Front Desk: (714) 879-3901, ext. 1234

We will post updates when resources become available. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Growing Library Must be Weeded

  • A library is not a museum.
  • The library has limited space.
  • Information is constantly being updated.
These are some of the compelling reasons why a library must take care to weed materials from the collection on occasion. 
Dr. Lines considers the need to retain
biographies of missionary families.

The Darling Library collaborates with the teaching faculty to help keep our collection of books relevant to our curriculum. Starting last fall, Dr. Kip Lines began making his way through the Anthropology and Missions areas of the library. Intercultural Studies is a multidisciplinary subject which sprawls throughout a number of Dewey Decimal Classifications. He may never get to the end!

Karen McReynolds did some weeding in the Science section last summer, following up with suggestions for purchasing materials to update the areas in which she routinely requires student research.

Convenience and necessity sometimes drives the need for weeding.  Because this summer we are moving sets of biblical commentaries from the Reference collection to the Main stacks (so students may check them out), we needed to make room on nearby shelves that have not been weeded in over twenty years. Pacific Christian College of Ministry and Biblical Studies professors, Joe Grana (Ministry and Preaching), Curtis Holtzen (Theology), and David Matson (Biblical Studies) came to the rescue.

The idea of discarding books is unnerving to academics. So, a brief orientation to the benefits and purpose of purging was necessary. Each were assigned a section in their areas of expertise and they applied their knowledge of the content to the task at hand. It was helpful for them to come as a group in order to ask each other for second opinions.

A plus for Dr. Matson was seeing
inscriptions of previous owners
who he was familiar with.
Collection Development is the responsibility of the Director of Library Services. The final decisions about whether to keep or discard materials falls on me. Therefore, it was extremely beneficial for me to listen in on their conversations as they moved along. I heard them talk about authors, publishers, and topics that were trendy during certain periods. I listened for attitudes toward different movements and approaches to ministry and teaching. I got a better sense of what is important to them as instructors, researchers, administrators, and ministers. I learned more about the needs for supporting our curriculum in these areas.

So, what do we do with the books we discard? We send them to Better World Books to sell them on consignment for us. We get a check and part of the proceeds goes to support a literacy program in Africa. Anyone can buy books from BWB online at Just don't donate them back to us!
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Now Hiring

Position: Student Library Assistant – Access Services
Minimum Wage
Official Job Posting


  • Must be a current Hope student in good academic standing (online and graduate students are encouraged to apply). 
  • Must be available for training August 8 and 18, 2015.
  • Available hours:
Mondays - 1:00PM to 3:00PM
Tuesdays - 10:30AM to 3:00PM and 7:00PM to 9:00PM
Wednesdays - 12:00PM to 3:00PM
Thursdays - 10:30AM to 3:00PM

Deadline for applications: July 17, 2015 at 5:00PM.

Regular work schedule begins August 19, 2015.

To apply, please contact Career Services at

For more information, contact Katy Lines, Library Services Manager, (714) 879-3901, ext. 1223.


Monday, July 06, 2015

Dictionaries fo' shizzle!

Do you love words? I just returned from the annual conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco and as you might imagine, the place was teaming with word lovers!

While I was away, Katy Lines, our Library Services Manager, was working away in our archives and found a treasure which she posted on her Facebook page. It is Noah Webster's 1848 printing of An American Dictionary of the English Language given to Alexander Campbell in 1848 by publishers G&C Merriam (Merriam-Webster.) Anyone who knows about his series of debates will not be surprised at his having owned a hefty dictionary.

Of course, I didn't see any dictionaries like this one among the 6,813 vendors in the exhibit hall of the ALA annual conference last week. Most dictionaries are online - and in many cases all you have to do is type a word into your browser and Google will supply the definition without referencing a dictionary at all.

Top result when entering the word "dictionary" in my browser (7/6/2015)
It is a small wonder that there are any printed dictionaries of any type still around. Nevertheless, The Oxford English Dictionary has gotten some press recently as they announced new words added in 2015--including some for which I never thought I would need the correct spelling:
fo' shizzle for (or fo') shizzle for sure; definitely: gonna be a great game fo' shizzle!(1)
The OED originated from a group of scholars who were dissatisfied with the limitations of dictionaries in publication in the mid-nineteenth century and began an "'Unregistered Words Committee' to search for words that were unlisted or poorly-defined in current dictionaries."(2) That desire for an exhaustive dictionary eventually developed into a 20 volume set (2nd ed., 1989). As its mission of exhaustive inclusion continues, it is speculated that the third edition will only be published in digital format.

The Darling library subscribes to the Oxford Reference Online Premium Collection which contains over 220 Oxford reference titles including the Oxford Companions and Dictionaries, as well as many more reference works. (An active HIU email address is required to use this electronic resource.) Sadly, there is nowhere for a personal inscription, but researchers may create a personal account for creating annotations and saving search histories from one session to another. And, of course, the convenience of discovering information from within multiple reference works with one search is obvious.


Bustillos, M. (July 2, 2015) "Letter of Recommendation: The Oxford English Dictionary" The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2015 from

Steinmetz, K. (June 24, 2015) "Oxford Dictionary Adds ‘Fo’ Shizzle,’ ‘Masshole’ and ‘Hot Mess’"  Time Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2015 from

(1) Stevenson, A. (2010). shizzle. In Oxford Dictionary of English (3rd ed.), Oxford Reference Online (n.d.) Retrieved July 6, 2015, from

(2) Oxford English Dictionary. Wikipedia. Retrieved July 6, 2015 from

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Minimum Hours

The Darling Library will be open 12:00pm to 3:00pm Monday, June 29th through Thursday, July 2nd.

We will be closed Friday, July 3, 2015 in observance of the Independence Day Holiday and all University offices will be closed.

Intersession Hours will resume on Monday, July 6, 2015 at 12:00PM.

See a complete calendar of library hours.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Closed for Memorial Day

The Library will be closed Monday, May 25th in observance of the Memorial Day Holiday. All HIU offices will be closed. Intersession Hours will resume on Tuesday, May 26th.

See a complete calendar of library hours.