For many of us ebook readers, we are surrounded by physical libraries, yet very often they don’t even register on our radar screen. Too many of us still equate them storytimes, tax forms and the latest paperback thriller. I would argue however, that this perception is wrong and that libraries are changing to meet the ebook and other technological changes that are transforming how we read. They may not operate as fast as we would like, but they are changing. Let’s look at three ways this is happening—and provide you with some links to these resources!
As outlined in our previous post on The Librarian’s Dilemma many libraries today are partnering with OverDrive to provide digital content for their patrons. DRM issues aside, this a great way to get the most popular fiction and non-fiction out to meet demand. OverDrive offers both PDF and ePub formatted reading that can be loaded on many readers successfully. Examples of libraries that have implemented this include my hometown library, Columbus Metropolitan Library, and others. For a complete list, try this link: http://search.overdrive.com/.
While it seems Google Books steals most of the news about ebooks these days, there is a consortium of libraries slowly approaching the same idea, but from a different direction. Hathi Trust, has brought together many academic libraries and universities to digitize and make available their collections online. With over 5,000,000 books digitized and more on the way, this resource is a natural for ebook fans. One note that might stop you short, however, is that many of the resources are only available online and cannot be downloaded (yet). If your reader has Wifi access, then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Many libraries are going it alone, introducing ebooks and other technologies as their budgets and time permit. While there are many good examples, some of these include the University of Virginia Library VIRGO beta, as well as the University of Indiana Digital Library Program. Granted these tend to be more scholarly in nature than the traditional paperback romance, but if history is important to you, then these resources are certainly valid. By the way, did you just see the British Library’s plans to offer over 65,000 classic digital works for free to ebook fans? Find out more about that project here: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article7017899.ece
What it all boils down to however, is you. Take a look today at your local public or academic library. What changes do you see if any? If you don’t see any, encourage your library to get involved—let them know you want to see this technology. Many of us librarians and library’s value customer feedback. You might be surprised at the response you get.
Editor’s Note: Tony Bandy is a librarian with a background in history and writing, he is currently freelancing and active in the field of library technology training via his company Library Knowledge. You can find his writings in Discovering Family History, Internet Genealogy as well as his blog, Adventures In History. You can reach Tony via Twitter (@LibKnowledge) or email: tony at libraryknowledge.com. PB