at The Evergreen State College

Ebooks and eReaders in the Library

From booktorrent

Jump to: navigation, search

Part of collection development is adapting to new technologies that can help patrons access and utilize information. Many libraries across the country have been employing both eReader and eBook lending programs, to mixed results. The question of whether such programs would be properly utilized at the Evergreen library is important going forward, as that specific technology proliferates and new avenues for lending pop up.

How eBook Lending Works

Looking at libraries with preexisting lending systems for eReaders, more specifically the Kindle, we can surmise the tangibility of engaging with such a product at the library.

One book, one lend. With digital mediums like the e-book, publishers and libraries are still drawing lines regarding costs and access. Several news outlets have reported on the standoffs and compromises emerging as a result of the e-books' lack of physical degradation. HarperCollins has gone so far as to require that e-books to self-destruct after 26 lends 1.

A recent article in USA Today outlined the increased connectivity between eReaders and libraries lending e-books. Ebook content at libraries has increased by 185% in the last year. A major shift occurred in early November when Jeff Bezos, CEO of announced that the Kindle would open itself for 11,000 local libraries.3 The implementation of e-book lending indicates an overall trend towards saturation of the marketplace.

Do Students Own or Use eReaders?

If the library were to implement an eBook lending system, it would be vital to measure its relevance to undergraduate and graduate students. Do any of them own eReaders in the first place? The eBook lending system has applied mostly to local public libraries, and the research-heavy university libraries might not need eReaders and eBooks for said readers as much as public libraries. During our program's fall quarter, we have had discussions on the practicality of eReaders in the classroom, as their page-navigation doesn't yet take the place of marked pages in a printed book for quick citation.

A study conducted among hundreds of college students at several universities offered a similar verdict as our own Book Torrent class: "94% used less paper, but many did not feel the ereaders enhanced the classroom experience—mostly due to “device limitations.” While students praised the device’s portability, battery life, and e-Ink technology, limiting factors included annotation, pagination, and navigation"2. One classmate this quarter brought up an apt point: eReaders are well-suited to recreational reading that does not demand cross-reference.

Possible Uses for eReaders at Evergreen

In a presentation at Furman University4 titled "To Lend...or Not", a suggested use of the eReader was to further enhance ILL (Inter-library loan). Once more, in a survey of students, the verdict was that the Kindle was great for leisurely reading but not for academic use. The researchers conclude that a digital collection available to any electronic device (iPad, iPhone etc.) would be most beneficial, suggesting that a greater understanding of the uses of the eReader, who it would benefit, how long the technology would remain relevant, and myriad other questions should be broached before jumping into any financial commitment. As will be found in my final redesign proposals, sample devices should be rolled out and surveys conducted before Evergreen pledges money towards eReader technology.