Last spring Falvey Memorial Library acquired the digital versions of 25 books in the Oxford Handbook Online series. Each Handbook offers “thorough introductions to topics and a critical survey of the current state of scholarship in a particular field of study, creating an original conception of the field and setting the agenda for new research. The articles review the key issues and major debates, and provide an original argument for how those debates might evolve.” Additionally, Oxford produces monthly updates to introduce articles in advance of and beyond what is available in its print editions. Thus, born-digital content ensures the most current, authoritative coverage available.
As e-books continue to increase in popularity, it is our job as librarians and information professionals to provide our users with the best possible resources we can. This means determining when to purchase e-books in addition to or instead of print editions. We consider a variety of criteria when making these decisions, but one of the most important is a given e-book format’s ease of use. The Oxford Handbook series of e-books is extremely user friendly, with each chapter or section viewable online in continuous scrolling or downloadable in PDF format. Another important factor we consider is how a given book will be used. For materials such as the Oxford Handbooks, which consist of collections of scholarly essays on a given topic, having access to the e-book format makes them very useful to professors who wish to assign individuals essays from a given book. Students can easily access and download them for free through the library website.
Sarah Wingo is the team leader for the Humanities II team and the subject librarian for English, literature and theater.