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Charlotte Initiative

The Charlotte Initiative for Permanent Acquisition of eBooks by Academic Libraries. A project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Scholarly Communications Program.

Scope and Purpose

The traditional model of library acquisition of books has for ages centered on the one-time purchase of permanent ownership of a physical copy of the book. Transitioning books offered for sale to academic libraries from print copies to eBooks is still in its relative infancy. As a result, this environment is malleable to positive change and not fully explored, examined, or settled. Library policies for collections until quite recently prioritized preservation and archiving for existing material. Binding, for example, was standard treatment for material acquired in paperback, in order to preserve the material for ongoing long-term use. Academic libraries have arguably discarded that function as they acquire eBooks—including varieties of demand-driven acquisition (DDA)—under licensing contracts that do not permit the library to request and receive digital files of the eBooks they acquire to be archived or managed as determined by the library. It is as if these libraries have given up their unique role in society of preserving current content for the future. If ever a library mission-critical function was at risk, this is it and the time to address it is now.

The proposed project will gather representatives of like-minded institutions who share a commitment and interest to identify, examine, explore and propose sustainable solutions to issues of preservation and use of eBooks in academic libraries. Members of this working group will share their perspectives and work together to identify essential characteristics applicable to the licensing, collection, and use of eBooks. To this end, obtained a grant of $271,001 over a two-year term, in order to convene this representative working group to discuss, define, and propose avenues for implementation of the results. 

The Three Principles

Our starting premise is that permanent acquisitions of eBooks requires these licensing terms: 

  • Provision of irrevocable perpetual access and archival rights.
  • Allowance for unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Freedom from any Digital Rights Management (DRM), including (but not limited to) use of proprietary formats, restricted access to content, or time-limited access terms.

Project Team and Working Groups Members

Project Team

Chuck Hamaker, UNC Charlotte, Principal Investigator

Alison Bradley, Davidson College, Collection Development Librarian and Liaison Coordinator

Liz Siler, UNC Charlotte, Collection Development Librarian

October Ivins, Ivins eContent Solutions, Project Consultant

Kelly Denzer, UNC Charlotte, Research Assistant

Beth Caruso, UNC Charlotte, Research Assistant


Working Group

Ann Agee, San Jose State University, Coordinator, Affordable Learning Solutions

Ivy Anderson, California Digital Library, Collection Development and Management

Steve Cohn, Duke UP Director

Kate Davis, Scholars Portal/OCUL, Assistant Director (Collections & Digital Preservation)

Terry Ehling, Project MUSE, AD Content Acquisitions and Publisher Relations

Sharon Farb, UCLA, AUL for Collection Management and Scholarly Communications

Celeste Feather, LYRASIS, Senior Director of Licensing and Strategic Partnerships

Ellen Finnie, MIT Libraries Head, Scholarly Communications & Collections Strategy

Katy Gabrio, Macalester College, ALD Collection Development and Discovery

Tony Horava, University of Ottawa /OCUL, Associate University Librarian (Collections)     

Theresa Liedtka, UT-Chattanooga, Dean of the Library

Anne McKee, GWLA, Program Officer for Resource Sharing

Joyce Ogburn, Appalachian State University, Professor, Digital Scholarship and Initiatives

John Sherer, UNC Press, Director

Katina Strauch, Retired, College of Charleston, AD TS, Head, Collection Development

Mary Beth Thomson, University of Kentucky AD Collections, Digital Scholarship and TS

Will Wakeling, Northeastern University, Dean of Libraries

Charles Watkinson, University of Michigan, Lib and MI Publishing Press Director and AUL

Keith Webster, Carnegie Mellon, Dean of University Libraries

Stanley Wilder, LSU, Dean of Libraries