Subject sets are some of EBSCO eBooks most popular collections and offer convenient, pre-packaged collections of frontlist e-books on popular, high-interest topics chosen specifically to meet the needs of libraries, faculty, and researchers. These collections are curated by EBSCO collection development specialists to help librarians save time while ensuring quality e-book content meets departmental requirements.

We asked two members of the collection development team about the process of developing and building these biannual, ready-made collections.

Meet Megan Cotter. Megan is one of four librarians on the Collection Development team. She specializes in content analysis and e-book selection for the academic market.

Where does your experience come from for selecting e-books for academic libraries? 
Each member of Collection Development brings to the team their unique professional experience of working in a range of different library settings. My personal experience in the library field comes from working in reference, acquisitions and cataloging in the academic space. On the Collection Development team, we each work across all subject areas, but we also maintain a series of collections that pertain to our subject areas of specialty. Building subject sets gives us the opportunity to draw on our experiences to create top quality e-book packages in a variety of subject areas.

What is your favorite part of the process? 
I love having the opportunity to do intensive research and learn more about a subject with which I am less familiar. Conversely, I love diving deep into a subject I am passionate about and discovering the latest, top-quality titles! For the Environment & Climate Change 2023 Subject Set, I added award winners like Minding the Climate: How Neuroscience Can Help Solve Our Environmental Crisis by Ann-Christine Duhaime and African Ecomedia: Network Forms, Planetary Politics by Cajetan Iheka. I also made sure to add titles on sustainability, which I know is a trending topic in a lot of academic programs right now. The level of research we perform while creating subject sets provides us with a comprehensive view of the publishing landscape and allows us to become more familiar with current collection trends so that we can best serve our customers.

Meet Kerri Killion-Mueller. Kerri is the newest member of the collection development team, and she specializes in content analysis and e-book selection for academic and medical markets.

Where does your experience come from for selecting e-books for academic libraries? 
I think the most important thing for our eBook customers to know is that there is a team of highly experienced librarians behind our curated lists and subject sets. The collection development team understands libraries and truly cares about providing librarians with the highest quality eBooks. I have been a librarian for twenty years, spending the last decade of my career in academic libraries. During my time in libraries, I had the opportunity to build collections on a wide variety of topics for a diverse range of library user levels. Most recently, I collected materials in the health sciences at a private liberal arts college. The librarians on EBSCO’s collection development team have varied professional and educational backgrounds that bring unique perspectives to collection building. Creating subject sets allows the collection development team to do what librarians do best – research a topic and gather the best resources available!

As librarians, can you speak to the benefits and value that subject sets offer librarians? 
The collection development team knows that today’s librarians are often pulled in a million different directions and, therefore, do not necessarily have the time that they’d like to dedicate to building eBook collections. We also know that the landscape of higher education is changing rapidly – new programs are developed quickly to meet workforce demands, resource budgets are shrinking, and many libraries are short staffed. EBSCO eBooks subject sets are designed to help streamline the process of collecting eBooks for some of the most popular subject areas while saving librarians time and ensuring the highest quality eBook collection. Our collection development team takes the time to evaluate each eBook in our subject sets so that the guesswork is taken out for librarians. The collection development team highly curates each subject set so that only the best, most relevant titles are included. The subject sets can then be quickly viewed by librarians, easily purchased, and accessible to students and faculty in a matter of minutes.

How is the collection development process for subject sets different than creating other e-book collections? 
Subject sets are a little different from our other eBook collections and, in my opinion, really fun to work on! Based on customer feedback, subject sets have set parameters, or rules, that we follow. The entire subject set must cost $5000 or less, each individual title must be priced under $250, all titles are frontlist, and there is no duplication of eBooks across all subject sets. Each collection development team member is responsible for a handful of subject sets. Working on these collections gives us the opportunity to really take a deep dive into the subject and search for the best eBooks available. Having been on the customer side of subject sets, I see them as a valuable tool for filling gaps in library collections or for quickly developing high quality collections in new subject areas.

What is your favorite part of the process? 
I’m a naturally curious person who loves learning new things, so curating subject sets gives me the opportunity to really explore different topics. When I’m evaluating eBooks for subject sets, I also like to think about the potential users of the collection. I want to make sure that I’m including titles that meet the programmatic requirements of the discipline and will best support the learning and research needs of students and faculty. I may not get to directly interact with the future users of the subject sets that I curate, but I like to think that in some small way I’m helping them write that research paper or to become a future nurse!    

What new subject sets has your team created and what factors influence the creation of a new subject set? 
Some of the recent subject sets we’ve created include Agriculture & Agribusiness, Gender Studies, and Poverty & Class Studies. We keep sales data, customer requests, and current trends in mind when deciding which new subject sets to create.

The easiest and most accurate way to view Subject Sets is through EBSCOhost Collection Manager (ECM). Need an ECM account? Subject Sets are also available as Spotlight Lists in GOBI. To request a title list or pricing, click here to have an EBSCO representative contact you.