"I’ve argued elsewhere that there are three factors that directly influence our ability to fulfill the library mission. Two of them are ownership (the ability to have physical possession of a file, the better to preserve and manage it), and integration (the ability to provide some polish and convenience to the user experience).
But the third factor is equally basic: cost. Right now, publishers and distributors (in this case, Random House and OverDrive) have driven up the price of an ebook so far that it really doesn’t make sense for libraries to buy it. People who read ebooks don’t stop reading on paper; if anything, they seem to read more in all formats.
Considering the difference between the cost of paper and digital formats, I really did consider buying paper only. For now, that’s just prudent: I can reduce the waiting list faster by purchasing multiple copies at discount.
But you know what’s coming next: the book that is published e-only, or that comes out as an ebook first, and on paper two months later. This is an attempt—successful, so far—to lock us out of the market by outright denial on the one hand, or through ballooning costs on the other."
"The first is the notion of place, a thing the Internet was supposed to have obliterated. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to the digital future: place kept mattering. It turns out that people often need somewhere to go, especially people who aren’t affluent enough to live in big houses. People with large families might need some peace and quiet, or a change of venue for study that is removed from the television and the refrigerator. People who live alone—and their ranks are increasing daily—might just want a little company while they read. An ideal place for all these folks should be safe, convenient and most of all public—a place where you don’t have to buy anything yet can stay as long as you like. Libraries are the very definition of such locales, and our unending need for this place that isn’t home, work or café accounts for a lot of their persistence. Library patrons themselves will tell you that. After she was laid off by Home Depot, Shamika Miller visited the public library in Tracy, California, almost every day during 2008 to look for work. As she told the Wall Street Journal, “There’s something about the library that helps you think.
The second reason libraries persist is the notion of improvement, something that has been an article of faith among librarians and their civic backers for as long as there have been libraries in this country. We Americans were early proponents of universal education and individual initiative, and we long ago recognized the importance of giving people a chance to make their lives better by gaining knowledge and cultivating their minds—in other words, improving themselves both materially and intellectually. It’s an idea redolent of Ben Franklin and Samuel Smiles, Horatio Alger and even Dale Carnegie."
WASHINGTON (July 26, 2012) — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced a $1 million award to support the incorporation and launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), a groundbreaking project that seeks to digitize and bring together the contents of our nation’s libraries and archives, and make them freely available to all online.
This morning, National Public Radio's Morning Edition took a look at libraries and ebooks. As the story notes, libraries are seeing increasing demands for ebooks, but are facing challenges in securing content for lending.
"Several public libraries, following the lead of San Francisco’s Main Branch, have hired social workers, for instance, to help them deal with the homeless, many of whom depend on the nearest public library for everything from Internet access to daily ablutions. The Greensboro, N.C. public library started providing haircuts and blood pressure screenings to these needy visitors. In Gainesville, Fla., the Alachua County Library District has coped with declining in-person access to government services by forming the Library Partnership, a facility containing both a library and various community services. By this means the library has made itself into a gateway for local residents seeking health and legal services, rent and utility subsidies, counseling and tax help, not to mention book and clothing drives and weekend food for kids nourished by the food lunch program during the week. Like so many libraries, the one in Gainesville goes far beyond providing food for thought."
"Every aspect of the library profession is retooling. Catalogers are working with batch loads of records more than they do original cataloging. Collection development librarians are working with patron-driven acquisition models more than approval plans or firm orders. Archivists are deriving new value from their digitized collections with text mining techniques. Public services are spending less time at the reference desk, and ethnography might be their new tool for learning about users. APIs are the newest tools of web developers."
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