As academic institutions increasingly embrace digital resources, the focus on accessibility becomes paramount. In the February/March issue of Against The Grain, OverDrive hosted a discussion on this crucial topic that sheds light on current efforts and future trends shaping the landscape of digital content access. 

Before we proceed, we must acknowledge the efforts of the University of California’s Project LEND and Lyrasis’ Palace Project, which both explore the current and future state of digital content access, reflecting the evolving nature of academic libraries. To delve deeper into this topic, OverDrive spoke with industry experts John Blosser from Northwestern University Libraries and Nathan Rupp from Purdue University School of Libraries and Information Studies. Below are some insights mentioned in the discussion:  

  • Addressing the digital divide among students is a pressing concern. Blosser highlights the importance of advocating for affordable internet access and maintaining on-site computer resources to bridge this gap. Additionally, collaboration between institutions and vendors is essential to ensure straightforward access to digital resources. 
  • Resource sharing among academic institutions must emerge as a pivotal strategy to broaden research support globally. Rupp emphasizes the need for licensing agreements and technological infrastructure to facilitate seamless resource sharing, including non-textual materials like video and audio files. 
  • Budgetary considerations should evolve alongside the growing demand for digital resources. Rupp suggests reallocating collection development budgets to support open access and embracing new licensing models. Concerns also arise regarding the long-term preservation of digital materials, prompting a reevaluation of preservation strategies. 
  • Key barriers hindering widespread adoption include pricing, secure control of resources, and software development for resource sharing. Blosser stresses the importance of proactive vendor involvement in software development to overcome these barriers. 

The future of digital access in academic libraries is expected by the contributors to be marked by emerging technologies, resource sharing initiatives, and evolving licensing models. Librarians, as stewards of information access, will continue to guide institutions in navigating this dynamic landscape. 

Please note: This is just a small portion of the article published. For the full article, contact an OverDrive account representative to provide a full copy and to learn more about preparing your library for the future of digital content access.