What Do We Purchase?

The UNC Libraries regularly purchases books in electronic format that fit its collection scope. The Libraries considers a variety of factors when deciding format including subject matter, use and presentation of the content in our decision making.

When Do We Prefer Ebooks?

Ebooks are preferred when they are anticipated to be in high demand, reasonably priced, available for purchase by libraries and meet library technical and licensing requirements, including accessibility guidelines. They are also preferred when faculty and students have expressed a preference for this format.

When Will UNC Libraries Refuse To Purchase An Ebook?

UNC Libraries will not purchase ebooks under the following conditions:

  • Cost is prohibitive
  • Access requires a single username/password or must be delivered in a format that can not be shared widely
  • Ebook is only available for one-time use
  • Any requirement to share patron information or use with publisher or vendor

Do The UNC Libraries Purchase Ebooks Specifically For Classroom Use?

As with print books, the Libraries purchase ebooks that have broad instructional and research use and fit within our collecting scope. While a portion of these books are used as textbooks (assigned or recommended) in specific courses, the Libraries does not maintain a textbook collection. Specifically, we do not review course lists and purchase associated textbooks. We may purchase a text on demand that fits other criteria defined here.

Why Do The Libraries Not Purchase Ebooks For Classroom Use?

The UNC Libraries does not maintain a collection of textbooks either in print or as ebooks. Additionally, licensing requirements often prohibit libraries from purchasing electronic textbooks. Textbooks, particularly electronic textbooks, are meant for individual use. They may be priced for a single-user only and have associated supplemental course content. They may also require a single username and password that can not be shared widely. In other cases, publishers may price books they categorize as potential textbooks at a rate multiple times that of a library copy in order for the publisher to recuperate the cost of selling individual copies to students. Some textbooks are available only on a subscription basis which requires sustained funding.