love books

Printed books are slowing becoming a thing of the past.

In an ironic twist, as books are slowly become a legacy artifact of the past, and  brick and mortar libraries were predicted to soon follow suit, there is a test program in a few New England towns that is stocking their library shelves with e-Readers. If you can’t afford your own device – this might be a viable alternative.

As quaint as a library is, such hallowed halls of learning have been shuttered in recent years in many U.S. cites, due to lack of funding and decreased traffic. However a few town libraries in Massachusetts may have found a formula to turn that situation around.

According to News Telegram reporter Donna Boynton, earlier this year, the Ludenburg Public Library added three Kindles to its lending collections, each holding 28 different titles as alternatives to traditional bound books. This was followed by the Worchester Public Library adding Nooks and the Northboro Free Public Library allowing visitors to download books to Sony Readers through CWMARS.

While digital rights management was a hurdle for libraries to address with the e-Reader companies and their publishers, the issue of circulating these devices multiple times to multiple users seems to be working itself out. Jacqueline Rafferty, president of the Massachusetts Library Association said “e-Readers have restrictions on sharing downloaded materials,” and Ludenberg’s example of limiting its offering to 28 titles seems to be the maximum that libraries are presently able to offer.

In purchasing the Kindles for her library, Ludenberg’s director Amy Sadkin was able to subsidize the cost with a $1000 grant. She then deregistered the devices so that no one could download additional titles. When lending, users must agree to a $250 replacement cost for the Kindle, its carrying case and charger, in the event the items are lost.

While Kindles can only download books from Amazon.com, the Nook can access books from the distributor Overdrive. On the Kindle, the libraries can download the classics for free, but all other titles they have to purchase at $9.99 which according to Southbridge Public Library’s director Margaret Morissey “countermands everything that a library is about.”

 And while librarians don’t want to appear to endorse any one e-Reader product over another, Boynton’s report indicates that librarians say that Amazon is not “library-friendly.” Since credit cards are required for purchases, it put libraries at a disadvantage where librarians would have to use their own personal cards to make a purchase.

So, Morissey instead will be hosting a demonstration for the Nook device which she indicates is more library-friendly. In her words, it gives more “ongoing lasting value.”

Similar to a library’s dilemma as to whether they can survive as a bricks and mortar offering to the public, Barnes and Noble has decided to close at least 100 stores in an attempt to shift their business model to online sales with the marketing of their Nook e-Readers.

If this e-Reader lending program does prove successful – it might be the saving grace for libraries across the country in not only keeping up with the times but in actually providing somethingfor the public that offers them a reason to return often. In Ludenberg alone, library circulation has increased 6 percent in the last year, in a town with at least 2,000 visitors per week.

Via Inventor Spot

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