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Leeward Community College

Electronic Resource Access Models


Line drawing of a person with a frustrated expression, looking at a computer.
“I could have sworn I saw it here before . . . “

Has this ever happened to you? You stumble upon a series on Netflix, watch every episode, and really enjoy it. A year later, you decide to re-watch it, only to find that it has vanished without a trace! What happened?

In short, Netflix doesn’t own all of the content that is made available through the platform. They negotiate licensing agreements with the content owners, and some of these agreements expire. If you want guaranteed access to your favorite show, you usually need to purchase it, either on DVD or through a different streaming service.

Many of the library’s electronic resources operate in much the same manner. Read on to learn about two of our main access models–subscription and perpetual–and how the type of model may affect the resources you use.

Subscription model

Drawing depicting a financial transaction between a streaming video company and a user.

With the subscription model, we usually pay an annual fee that gives our users access to everything that is currently included in the collection. Examples of subscription resources:

What’s great about this model?

  • It offers a large amount of content that would be unaffordable if purchased individually.
  • The collections are continually refreshed with new content.
  • There is usually no limit to the number of simultaneous users.

What’s not so great about this model?

  • We cannot select the individual titles included in the collections.
  • A relatively small amount of content is removed periodically, and we have no control over what is removed.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you can’t find an ebook or video that you know you’ve seen before, chances are it was a subscription title that was removed from the platform. Vendors generally add and remove content throughout the year, but some do their large removals in the summer and at the end of the year.

For example, this is the list of ebooks that will be removed from Ebook Central after June 30, and this is the list of videos leaving Academic Video Online after July 11.

Perpetual access model

An hourglass on its side.

With the perpetual access model, we purchase the titles we want, and they are ours for as long as we have access to the platform. This purchasing model is available on many of the same platforms that offer subscription collections.

What’s great about this model?

  • We select only the titles we want, so we have greater control over the collection.
  • These titles will not disappear unexpectedly.
  • Some ebooks are priced for one, three, or unlimited simultaneous users, so we may select the option that best fits our needs.

What’s not so great about this model?

  • Not all titles are available for purchase, and some are only available for one user at a time.
  • Prices can be very high, depending on the title.
  • Titles in rapidly changing fields will be outdated in a few years.

How can I tell if the ebook or video I want to use for my class is going to be there for sure?

Unfortunately, you probably can’t tell, so it’s best that you contact your library liaison or lccref@hawaii.edu to check. If your title is part of a subscription package, it is sometimes possible to purchase it under a perpetual access model, as well. For some streaming videos, limited-term licenses may also be available; this works well in situations where the video is needed for 1-3 years, but not permanently.

Memo pad with "remember" written on it.

The key takeaway here is that it is a good idea to contact us if you are planning to use an ebook, streaming video, or other library resource for a class assignment or other important purpose. We cannot guarantee that perpetual access will be available for everything, but we will make every effort to prevent unpleasant surprises from happening.

Now, if Netflix would only bring back Friends . . .

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