Tag Archives: e-books

Summit and E-books – What’s Available, What’s Not

2 Nov

Recently, I’ve gotten a few questions from students and from faculty about e-books in Summit. Are they available to everyone? Can you request an e-book through Summit or ILL? There are quite a few variables at work in the answer, so it’s not always a quick yes or no.

There are three different types of e-books that will show in the Summit catalog:

1. E-books that are part of the Summit PDA (patron driven acquisition) pilot project and that are available to students, faculty and staff at all Summit-affiliated institutions.

2. E-books that individual Summit-affiliated institutions own and that only that institution’s students have access to. These books cannot be requested via Summit or Interlibrary Loan.

3. E-books that are freely available. These are often government documents or items that are in the public domain.

So, how do you tell which kind of e-book you’re seeing? Good question.

E-books that are part of the Summit PDA project and are available to all students will always have an link under the cover art that says “View Now.”

No other e-book in the Summit catalog will have this link.

If you were in the detailed record view of a Summit-owned e-book, you would see a link labeled “View eBook.” Do NOT use the “Find It @ Your Library” button for e-books. You will never get useful results when using this button for e-books.

If you don’t see the “View Now” icon beneath the book cover, you’re looking at an e-book that is owned by individual institutions or is in the public domain. Generally, you will have to go into the detailed view to tell which (though using your powers of critical reasoning, you can usually guess that a book published by a commercial publisher within the last 70 years or so is not in the public domain).

Here is one example of an e-book that is not a Summit-owned title:

If/when you click on the title, you will see a very confusing display. (No wonder students and faculty are confused!)

The top section is labeled “Find a copy online.”

Again, do NOT use the “Find It @ Your Library” button when the document in question is an e-book (though you CAN use it for articles). It will route the patron to an Interlibrary Loan request form, but the request will just be canceled, because no other library will lend an e-book.

Below this button, you will see, a box labeled “Links to this item.” Beside the word “Summit,” there will be a zero and the message “No Links were found.” Below that is a category labeled “Other Libraries.” You may see a number here. We’ll take a look at those links in a second.

Below all that, you’ll see a second section, this one labeled “Find a copy in the library.” There will be Summit libraries listed here (if any Summit institutions own the e-book). Don’t be fooled by this deceptively familiar display. You will notice there is no “request” button, and if you click on the “check availability for this item” link, you will see that those Summit schools are providing the link (in this case, to Gale Virtual Reference Library). If you were a student at that school, you could click on the link and log in. But, if you’re not, no e-book for you – you’ll just be faced with an authorization screen that you’ll have no user name or password for.

When you click on the + by the phrase, “Show all links from other libraries (4)” (or whatever number), you will see more links, often restricted access, as is the case with this item:

HOWEVER, if the item were a government document or available in the public domain, this section, under “Other libraries” is where you’d find that link. There used to be links in this area to Google Books and the Hathi Trust, but those seem to have gone away (perhaps something to do with the pending lawsuit against those two groups?).

Here is an example of a link to a government document, located in the “Other libraries” section of the record.

So, back to those items that you find as e-books but that are restricted access. What if the student really wants or needs that book? How can we help them get it? It seems like the best bet is to click on the “Editions and formats” link in the Summit results display:

This will check for print copies of the item. In the case of the title above, a print copy exists and is owned by several Summit institutions, so it could be requested by our students:

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