85% of academic libraries include ebook and digital audiobooks in their collections, with non-curriculum-based ebooks one of the fastest growing segments  


CLEVELAND – December 7, 2022  As academic libraries pivot to meet the needs of a digital-first student population, many libraries are shifting their digital collections to include more popular fiction and nonfiction digital materials. To better understand ebook collection development in academic libraries, Choice, a publishing unit of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), published “The State of Ebooks in Academic Libraries: 2022” to continue exploring the ways academic libraries are responding to the increased demand for digital content. Key findings include 85 percent of academic libraries currently hold ebooks and digital audiobooks in their collections, non-curriculum-based ebooks and audiobooks are a rapidly growing segment, and ebook purchasing in most subject areas is up nearly 26 percent.

Download the survey for free.

As colleges and universities reopened fully following the COVID-19 pandemic, digital books remain an essential piece of academic library collections—one that is growing, as this new survey reveals.  The State of Ebooks in Academic Libraries: 2022 report provides a comprehensive view of academic libraries’ attitudes toward ebooks and audiobooks. The report also quantifies budgeting issues, audience priorities, subject area allocations and more as they relate to collection development practices. The 2022 report was created by Choice and underwritten by OverDrive Academic, a division of OverDrive, as a follow up to the 2020 report.

Despite the budgetary challenges of the past two years, a surprising majority of college and university libraries added digital resources to their collections including, most notably, ebooks and streaming media. Survey respondents indicated that their shift toward distance learning is driven by the desire to serve new students and their needs (72 percent). To a lesser extent (29 percent), respondents also noted the shift was determined by a desire to adapt to a digital environment and other outside factors, and 16 percent cited other issues such as the COVID pandemic.

Key findings include:

  • Approximately 85 percent of academic libraries currently include ebooks and digital audiobooks in their collections.
  • While curriculum support continues to be the dominant element in ebook collection development, survey results indicate that non-curriculum-based ebooks are a rapidly growing portion of academic library digital collections (79 percent of respondents devote up to 10 percent of their collection to pleasure reading, which is a 14 percent increase from 2020).
  • Ebook purchasing in almost all subject areas is up, with a noticeable jump (26 percent increase) in popular fiction and nonfiction reading materials.
  • Despite the budgetary challenges and service and material cuts of the past two years, 90 percent of college and university libraries added digital resources to their collections including, most notably, ebooks and streaming media.
  • While the desire to serve and accommodate the needs of students is a primary factor in determining institutions’ distance learning approach, COVID remains an influential outside determinant. However, such initially pandemic-driven remote learning efforts are gradually shifting to support new academic initiatives.

View the full report here.

Learn more about OverDrive Academic.

About OverDrive Academic – a division of OverDrive

OverDrive Academic offers the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks and audiobooks for hundreds of two- and four-year colleges and universities worldwide. With the Libby reading app, named one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the Decade, OverDrive Academic helps support academic objectives with educational and popular digital books. Founded in 1986, OverDrive – the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools – and its academic division are based in Cleveland, Ohio USA. OverDrive recently acquired Kanopy, the leading streaming video service for public libraries and academic institutions. https://company.overdrive.com/academic-libraries/

About Choice

Choice is a publishing unit of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association. Choice supports the work and professional development of academic librarians by providing tools and services that help them become more effective advocates for their patrons. Through its over-fifty-year history, it has established itself as an authoritative source for the evaluation of scholarly resources and as the publisher of trusted research in areas of interest to a changing academic library community. Today, Choice works to bring librarians, scholars, publishers, and the reading public together, facilitating a shared concern for the discovery, management, and preservation of scholarly information.


David Burleigh
Director of Brand & Communications