Dean B. Ellis Library (Photo: Astate.edu)
JONESBORO - The iPads and Kindles and other electronic devices Arkansas State students use to read and reference books and journal articles for their academic projects suddenly have become much more productive.
Effective today, students and faculty at Arkansas State who are conducting research into various topics have access to more than 14,000 additional scholarly "e-books" from an array of the nation's top academic publishers.
The new agreement with JSTOR, a non-profit digital library that supports universities and colleges, gives patrons of Dean B. Ellis Library full access to the entire collection of titles from 34 major publishers. The list includes highly respected scholarly sources such as the Modern Humanities Research Association, RAND Corporation, and university presses at Kentucky, Princeton, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and many more.
"After intense analysis and evaluation, we are pleased to install 'Books at JSTOR' as the foundation of our e-book collection," commented Jeff Bailey, director of library services at A-State. "We are committed to providing our students and faculty with the highest quality digital scholarship."
Arkansas State University has the distinction of being the first institution in the country to acquire the complete Books at JSTOR online resource, according to Bailey. JSTOR made a special announcement of the acquisition at the recent Association of College and Research Libraries biennial conference in Indianapolis.
The library staff has been busy this week incorporating e-book access data into the library's online catalog system, making the e-books available to current Arkansas State students, faculty, and staff from anywhere they have an Internet connection. Alumni and community members can access these e-books and other scholarly online resources from inside the Dean B. Ellis Library.
Students using a mobile device such as an iPad or a computer can have instant access with a few clicks or keystrokes.
"Records for every title have been loaded into the library's online catalog and these records have been fully integrated with print and other e-book titles in search results," Bailey continued. "This will give unprecedented immediate access for students and faculty needing sources not previously available at Ellis Library."
The titles in "Books at JSTOR" cover all the degree program areas at Arkansas State, including health care and the sciences, but Bailey said the collection is strongest in the areas of business and economics, history, language and literature, political science, and sociology.
"Clearly, the students and faculty at Arkansas State will benefit greatly from having these scholarly books available 24/7, both on and off campus," Bailey asserted. "All of the books are from quality publishers with high standards and are appropriate for both student and faculty use."
Frank Smith, director of Books at JSTOR, added, "We're delighted to have Arkansas State's commitment and their recognition of the value of the program and the benefits of having access to scholarly books on JSTOR. We think students and faculty at Arkansas State will find many scholarly treasures in the books offered through JSTOR. The books should be a boon for scholarly research, whether for an undergraduate essay or path-breaking journal article or monograph."
Arkansas State has been acquiring online scholarly journals from JSTOR for many years and now owns the back files to more than 1,600 academic journals, Bailey said. The JSTOR platform has been very reliable for ASU.
Not only is the huge collection of e-books available online, the references provide quick electronic access to journal articles and other sources, giving the researcher the richest and fastest access to the source information on which each book is based.
"The scope of this acquisition allowed us to negotiate an arrangement whereby Arkansas State purchases the existing JSTOR eBook titles, with all new titles that are added in future years being made available to ASU under what is called 'demand-driven acquisition,' " Bailey explained. "Under this model, all of the newly-published e-book titles will be made available to our students and faculty at no initial cost. ASU will purchase an individual title, with a discount for bulk purchase, only after a particular e-book has received a minimum level of usage."
Bailey emphasized more than 60 percent of the e-books in the newly acquired collection " . . . are available for unlimited simultaneous use, meaning those books could be read and used by an entire class at no additional cost to the student or to the Ellis Library." In many cases, this will eliminate the student's need to purchase a textbook.
Because the books in the JSTOR collection are considered more academic in nature, most are not written for a general audience and are less likely to be on best-seller lists or familiar to casual readers, but each title is the product of a highly respected publishing house.
To give an idea as to the size of the acquisition, Bailey estimated the same set of books in hardback would occupy a quarter mile of shelf space. When one considers an entire class can use an e-book at the same time, the number of hardbacks replaced is almost limitless.