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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

eBooks in the Library Collection

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Library’s database of eBooks for public use has been growing by leaps and bounds since it was established two years ago.


The shared database is the collaboration of 77 library systems in Ohio, each contributing their share of electronic books to be “borrowed” by library users.


It is indeed a new era of information distribution, and a new way for libraries to “loan books.”


Of course, it is all done electronically, the borrower uses the eBook for 3 weeks after which it automatically “goes away” and is returned to the library database.


The big news about eBooks is that the Amazon Kindle is now compatible with library eBook collections with a major software upgrade and change taking place last month.


Although Amazon was slow to get on board with lending eBooks to its devices, the Kindle is now the easiest eReader for managing library books.


I like to think it was the uproar from the public when they found that Kindle eReaders would not accept library database e-books into their system that caused Amazon to revisit their earlier decisions.


When using other eReaders, you must first download the eBook to your computer, plug in your device, and transfer the book using a free program called Adobe Digital editions.


However, with Kindle, there is no need to download any program before enjoying eBooks.


Kindle eBooks work the same way as others, and return to the library automatically after 3 weeks.


Kindle devices automatically remove anything related to the book after it has been returned to the library; other devices have a useless file that will need to be deleted by the user.


Kindle will save all of your bookmarks, so you can remember where you stopped reading in the eBook.


In conjunction with the opening of Kindle files to library eBooks, Amazon has released three new devices, including eReader, Touch-screen eReader, and a full color tablet called Fire.


With all this excitement, libraries are hurrying to acquire more eBooks for this new demand.


To clarify, the various eBook companies do not “give” eBooks to libraries, just like paper books, libraries have to purchase them for public use.


If we buy one copy of an eBook, only one person at-a-time can use the eBook.


As an old Librarian, the whole eBook thing is hard to handle.


They are books that you can’t touch, can’t see on a shelf, and return to the library on their own without the incentive of overdue fines.


On the other hand, they are colorful, easy-to-use, the print can be enlarged for easier reading, and each new device seems to be an improvement over the previous edition.


I guess it is similar to when our card catalog went online, and people came to the library to check out books having already done their research before opening the library door.


So, will eBooks cause a public library to disappear?  Not likely, as some people come to the library to do their downloading, others need help with their eBook device; some attend workshops held at the library about eBooks.


Some people like paper books, some enjoy sitting in a library environment, others make copies and do faxes, and the myriad of things people do in today’s public library.


We have also found many books not available in eBook format, and many books in eBook format that aren’t in a paper edition.


The Library System has also produced a useful brochure called “PLSJ eBook Services,” which will help you make your way through the complexities of using eBooks.


Developed by our Library Assistant Ralph Parissi, the same brochure has been adapted by many other libraries in our database.