Patron-Driven Acquisition and the Educational Mission of the Academic Library

William H. Walters


Patron-driven acquisition (PDA), also known as demand-driven acquisition, patron-initiated purchasing, or books on demand, allows patrons to select and purchase books for the library collection without staff mediation or oversight. This essay presents the argument that PDA programs are unlikely to improve the quality of academic library collections. In particular, they risk failing to distinguish between students’ immediate desires and their long-term educational needs, making poor use of librarians’ knowledge and expertise, failing to represent the full range of library stakeholders, and producing collections that are biased or poorly balanced. Although PDA can lead to efficiencies in information delivery, those efficiencies do not necessarily support the broader educational goals of the academic library.

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