Review Update – R2 Digital Library
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Editor’s Note: In response to reader request, this month we are introducing yet another new feature to the DCDM Newsletter. We have asked individuals who have written reviews of major electronic resources that were published in a DCDM issue at least two years ago to present an update of their original review. We will feature these Review Updates on a periodic basis in this space. The first Review Update is of the R2 Digital Library by Louise Verma, whose original review we published in May 2015.


Review Update – R2 Digital Library
Louisa Verma, MLIS
Reference & Electronic Content Librarian
Huntington Memorial Hospital, Health Sciences Library


As an update to the review of R2 Digital Library (R2DL) that appeared in the May 2015 issue of Doody’s Collection Development Monthly, this review will focus on what’s new with this platform, but those new to R2DL will want to read the original review ( for more background information and aspects of the platform that have not changed since 2015.



The R2 Digital Library is Rittenhouse Book Distributors’ platform for medical, nursing, and allied health ebook content. It also covers dentistry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, psychology, consumer health, chiropractic medicine, veterinary medicine, and undergraduate medicine. Hospital, academic, and medical libraries are the main library markets. Currently R2DL offers over 8,000 ebook titles from 90 publishers (up 3,000 titles and 45 publishers from 2015). Key publishers include: AAP, ACP, Cambridge University Press, CRC Press, Delmar Cengage Learning, Elsevier, LWW, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell. A full list of publishers is available at the R2DL website (



 New Publishers
R2DL has added new publishers since 2015, among them AWHONN, American Dental Association, American Psychological Association, AHIMA, and Joint Commission Resources, and no publishers have been dropped from the platform. LWW is the only publisher to impose a 12-month embargo on its content.

New Free Content
R2DL has added open access titles to the platform, and currently there are 17 free ebooks. Rittenhouse intends to grow this collection with more free offerings relevant to healthcare/medicine from professional societies and government agencies. Administrators can view and select free content from the Special Collections link on the Administrative side of the platform.



 Since 2015, the major noticeable new features have all been on the administrative side of the platform (according to an R2DL representative, Rittenhouse is continually enhancing its search and content architecture behind the scenes to support users as well).

Integration with Other Platforms
While not a new feature, my last review did not mention that R2DL is easily integrated into the OpenAthens single sign-on offsite user portal. R2DL can also integrate with learning management software, but I have not had an opportunity to implement that at my organization.

 PDA Wizard
In 2016, a PDA Wizard feature was rolled out. This is an easy-to-use, free feature that allows institutions to automate which new titles become available in their PDA collections. The PDA Wizard will automatically add titles as they are released on the R2 platform based on the institution’s locally defined specifications. This frees up some of the administrative work of having to select and add new titles/editions manually. Multiple PDA Wizard Tasks can be created for different Practice Areas, Disciplines, or specific Special Collections on R2, such as Doody’s Core Titles or Best of… lists, etc. A weekly email will denote which titles (if any) have been automatically added as PDAs.

Another feature that was added in 2016 is the Dashboard, which gives a high level overview of a an institution’s R2DL. The Dashboard appears upon logging into the Administrative side and includes Announcements/Special Offers, Usage Statistics, Collection Analysis/Highlights, and any Expert Reviewer recommendations (if the Expert Reviewer feature has been implemented). The Dashboard is also emailed to administrators on a monthly basis as a newsletter.

Browse by Publisher
Since 2015, R2DL has also implemented a “Browse by Publisher” feature. Not only can administrators see a list of all the publishers available on R2DL, they can quickly access all the titles by a single publisher by clicking on the links provided. This is also a helpful way to browse for duplicate content when an institution licenses multiple ebook platforms and may already be getting titles via an ebook package on another platform.


Business Model

 The R2DL business model has stayed the same since its launch in 2005, summarized below. To see a full description, please see the 2015 review.

R2DL can be licensed for an annual platform maintenance fee plus the cost of purchased titles. Consortia pricing may be available, contact your consortium for more information. Ebooks are sold individually as a single concurrent user license only. For multiple users, additional copies for each title must be purchased. There is no option for short-term loans or loan to purchase, however, institutions can add titles to their Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) collection. For titles designated as PDA, there is a three-use trigger. After the three-use trigger, a PDA title will go into the institution’s shopping cart and will no longer be available on R2DL to users. The administrator is notified when a title has been moved to the shopping cart and can then decide whether to purchase the title.

Institutions considering R2DL are offered a 30-day free trial.



 To get a better sense of users’ overall opinion of R2DL, I solicited feedback from hospital librarians on MLA’s Hospital Librarians discussion list regarding what it does well and what could be improved upon. Here is a synopsis of the responses, to give a sense of whether or not R2DL would be a good addition for an institution. (Read the 2015 review Breakthrough section for my thoughts.)

Users Like:

  • Ordering and offering book titles is quick and easy.
  • Statistics are thorough and readily available.
  • Integrates well with online catalog and Serials Solutions.
  • Basic cataloging records can be easily uploaded into an ILS (MARC records provided).
  • PDA feature allows offering many books to users and experimenting with what gets used.
  • The search interface and printing book sections are easy for users.
  • It offers books from a wide range of publishers.
  • PDA and PDA Wizard make it easy to add titles without upfront costs.

Needs Improvement:

  • Not good for heavily used titles because multiple copies at additional cost are needed for users to access books simultaneously.
  • Several users felt book pricing tended to be high considering access is for a single user.
  • The lag time between publication and when books appear on R2DL could be decreased.
  • Several users felt that the annual platform fee should be eliminated.
  • Multiple turn-a-ways tend to be a problem with single-user licenses.
  • One user discovered that several books the institution purchased did not contain the entire text when compared to another platform (did not say what titles or publishers).

For those who are not new to R2DL, but have not had a chance to keep up with these new features, the webinars below will be of interest. Even though the overall platform is mostly intuitive and easy to use, it would also be nice if there were a quick video tutorial (<5 min.) of all the features of R2DL that clients could point users to. I did find one tutorial for users done by USC Wilson Dental Library that libraries may want to point to or use as a model for creating their own.

Selected Webinars for Administrators on New Features:

Overview of R2, PDA Wizard, Dashboard & Browse by Publisher:
Free Content on R2:
See all on the Rittenhouse YouTube Channel at:

 Tutorials for Users:

3-minute tutorial on R2 Library from the USC Wilson Dental Library:

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1 Comment

  1. […] Louise’s update reviews how the R2 Digital Library is a great solution for any hospital or academic library  collecting digital content in the health sciences. Read the full update here. […]

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