What’s the future for e-books in libraries? Part 2.

Last week, I reported on a panel discussion organised by LIANZA about ebooks.

This report is the conclusion, a summary on the presentations by Ksenija Mincic-Obradovic from Auckland University and Martin Taylor, director of Activity Press and founder of the Digital Publishing Forum.

What’s happening with e-books in the Academic space?

Ksenija mentioned New Zealand academic libraries have been in the e-books space for a long time. Currently, e-books account for 30% of Auckland University’s collection. But there’s still a persistent issue with some users not knowing about their e-books collection.

A solution in tackling this issue is to use proper cataloguing standards. Ksenija mentioned by using the MARC standards, the library can dramatically increase the item’s usage by 50 times. Therefore adopting new standards like MARC and RDA has a tremendous affect on the items visibility.

Ksenija also showed libraries are developing and moving beyond the traditional form of customer engagement, an example could be seen in this video about The Underground Library:

Neat huh? We can now develop new ways of engaging with our customers through new technologies. Libraries have to think outside the traditional concept of lending and that e-lending doesn’t necessary need to be a reflection of how the real world works.

Ksenija concludes with listing a few areas for improvements that includes:

  •  more standardisation of purchase models, content formats, and ways of access
  • high quatlity metadata for discovering e-books
  • more recommended NZ texts
  • better ways of e-lending
  • better collaboration between vendors, publishers, and LIS developers
  • and libraries should work closely together and explore best practices, workflows and business models.

Views from the outside

Martin Taylor next spoke on the changing paradigm for libraries.

He began his presentation about a story from the NZ Herald about how the Government has decided to outsourced the task of providing access to books and resources to Amazon. Although the story isn’t true, the possibility is not too far-fetched.

Currently, Amazon already has an e-books lending service and with the recent acquisition of Goodreads, has increased it’s power in the books review market. Therefore an important question was put forward in what role can libraries play in this changing paradigm.

Martin noted there is still space for libraries. Libraries can be a counter balance to the commercialisation of the review market. From a publishers point of view, libraries are great vehicles to discover new books and for the public, a good authoritative source for recommendations.

There is a market for libraries in providing an unbiased source of authoritative reviews, but this will require them to become content creators on top of their traditional roles. We have to see ourselves as a media business, providing and pushing content to our users.

This is an interesting observation.

What do you think?
Do you see us moving towards a media business model?
If not, where do you see us heading?

Love to hear your thoughts, observations or ideas, comment below.

Want more?
Come and join me in future events.
Hope to see you there.

Signing out.

Mark Huynh
Learn more about me on LinkedIn: http://nz.linkedin.com/in/markhuynhdigitalwebexpert/

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Official website for New Professionals Network in New Zealand. Administered by: Abigail Willemse LIANZA Library Life Editor @ajwillemse91
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5 Responses to What’s the future for e-books in libraries? Part 2.

  1. megingle says:

    Great second round-up of the e-book discussion. And thanks for sharing the Underground Library video – cool initiative from NYC.

  2. Pingback: Digital Publishing News: Token Model For EBook Checkouts At The Library | Urban Post Books

  3. I think that as demonstrated with a couple of public libraries in the US, public libraries are going to have to get together into consortia and start creating their own e-book gathering and discovery systems. In terms of academic libraries, I agree with Ksenija that good metadata is essential to students being prepared to use e-books. My anecdotal evidence is that many of our students still like to be able to able to borrow a physical book. There is a hesitation to use e-books. However, e-books are brilliant for distance students. Of course, the big difference between public library and academic library e-book supply, is that e-books in academic libraries (accessed through EBL, Ebrary, Wiley Online, Sage Online etc.) are usually multi-user – i.e. lots of people can be using the e-book at the same time. This model would be great for public libraries, but the publishers are not going to let that happen. I also think it’s ludicrous that it’s not easy for Kindle users to use e-books through Overdrive etc. In the public library sector, Overdrive is an incredibly clunky piece of software. It’s difficult to locate e-books and as often as not, the one you want is out. In the academic library world, I see that we are going to see more and more e-books (especially with our student body becoming much more international, with the potential of MOOCs and other distance learning). However, many of the really key texts are not available in e-format currently – because the publishers want to make money. Also, as Ksenija has said, relatively few New Zealand texts are available as e-books. I love the Underground Library concept, but wouldn’t it be that much better if the customers could get the whole e-book on their smartphone/tablet, rather than just a snippet?

  4. Oh, the name of one of the libraries with their own e-book hosting has just come to me – Douglas Public Library.

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