Library cancels Ebrary subscription

The University of Lincoln’s library has defended the decision to cancel their annual Ebrary subscription after finding out that the service was not cost effective.

The annual subscription to the service which allows you to “rent” books costs around £20,000 and after an analysis of the usage of the service, which started after summer 2010, it was found that although the students had access to 30,000 books only around 400 were being used significantly.

The short notice of the cancellation had concerned some students who were left unable to access books they already had chosen for work.

Ian Snowley, the university librarian, says the decision was not about saving money: “We realised it costs about the same to buy those 400 titles for forever.”

The library has decided to replace the most used ebooks with physical copies of the titles. Photo: Phil Moore via Flickr

Currently 320 out of the 400 books that were used effectively through Ebrary have been bought, and they are still working on the other 80.

Snowley also made it clear that “no one should lose out on the short term” from cancelling the service, and if any students are unable to find their book in the library then they can ask their subject librarians who will try to arrange getting the book available for them.

He said that the decision to cut the subscription had to be relatively quick, as the renewal was up at the end of 2010, and students were only notified in early January through the Library News blog.

Although Snowley accepts that it would have been “preferable” to tell students further in advance, it would mean waiting another year to cancel – and decided in the long run it would be the “best way to do it” by starting work on buying the ‘top 400’ titles and figure out what to do next year with the money saved from the subscription.

Instead the idea is to “target and tailor” the library’s services and give it greater “flexibility”.

3 Responses to Library cancels Ebrary subscription

  1. Frances Hutchinson says:

    How can people not loose out short term if you cancel it that sudden? Some people have work due in very soon and could of been in the middle of a bit of work using ebooks. In drama we can not always legaly have more than one hard copy of a play due to the licencing laws and ebooks ment that sometimes we could each read the play online instead having to share one book between over 50 of us in less than a week!

  2. Jemma says:

    Don’t know if it’s worth mentioning but ebooks are accessible through two other ebook databases which are…

    Dawsonera (

    MyiLibrary (

    Titles from these can also be accessed via the Library catalogue (

    There really should have been a lot more notice, it’s not really acceptable seeing as surely this is the kind of thing we, as students, pay for? It’s especially bad for those who can’t access the University library at certain times, more should have been done.

  3. Ian Snowley says:

    I wanted to clarify a couple of points and respond to these two comments.

    We did start to put out publicity in December, and made sure that the replacement ebooks were ordered before Ebrary was cancelled on the 31st December – in order to minimise any loss of access. The first batch of titles are available (via the platforms listed above and the library catalogue) and more will follow soon.

    On the specific point about play texts, those that are available electronically are NOT part of Ebrary, so these remain accessible – if you need further support with this please contact your Academic Subject Librarian.

    As a result of this change, we will be able to offer more e-books relevent to study at Lincoln. Therefore we are confident that this move, despite some disruption in the short-term, will lead to increased access to information, and as such it represents an important positive development.

    Ian Snowley, University Librarian