The consortium has had a subscription to the Overdrive e-content provider for several years. Just over a year ago we were able to make the e-Books and e-Audiobooks discoverable through Enterprise - the public access "catalogue" / discovery product. This increase in accessibility has directly contributed to a significant increase in loans.
Below are two graphs provided through the Overdrive management portal which demonstrate both the growth in loans and also the proportion of loans which are e-Books compared to e-Audiobooks. This growth in customer usage also supports the consortium's decision to increase its expenditure on e-content as well as choosing a second e-content provider to complement our current Overdrive subscription. We are current tidying up a few loose ends with our new provider and SirsiDynix to ensure that the new content we're about to purchase will also be accessible through Enterprise. We will have more to say about this when we're ready to launch this second content source.
Compared to some library services, as a consortium we are relatively new to providing loanable e-content & we have not been as aggressive as some in promoting this service. I was talking to staff at Brisbane City Council libraries at the end of last year & the subject of e-content came up. They treat their e-content as a separate "branch" in that it is online, and independent from all of their physical libraries; and they tell me that late last year their e-content branch generated more loans than any of the other 30+ physical libraries.
It will be interesting to keep score of our growth in e-content in coming years, to see when our State-wide "branch" begins to surpass many of our physical libraries. In fact, while I don't have the figures with me, I'd have to think that loans of 35,000+ per month (as seen October - December) is a figure that would challenge many of our branches. Of course this figure is for all loans right across the State, and many customers who download e-content also borrow physical items, but all the same this is an impressive figure! I might do some research about the costs per loan from this collection compared to others.
As this part of our business continues to grow we will need to ensure that we continue to increase our skills and our support for the community as well as finding new ways to promote this collection to new audiences.