Monday, October 05, 2009

ARL report on the current use of E-Books in Libraries

ARL has produced a report that examines e-Book use in libraries. Access to the full report is paid however the toc and executive summary are available for free. Here is a sample (ARL):
Libraries are changing. The publishing industry is changing. Patrons are changing and expecting more and different things from their libraries. “The Global Reading Room: Libraries in the Digital Age” states “the role of libraries is becoming more important and more far-reaching than ever” and “though their mission remains unchanged, libraries are rethinking their collections, services, spaces, and opportunities for pooling resources.” The line between collection development and acquisitions is blurring. Librarians are communicating with patrons through instant messaging and twittering. Some libraries provide print-ondemand machines. Budgets are decreasing with the current economic crisis and libraries are looking at ways to maximize their collection development funds. And while the Library of Congress reports that their Copyright Office currently defines print as the “best edition format,” this is being revisited.

Libraries are facing both internal and external factors in developing and maintaining e-book collections. With change, however, comes denial and pockets of resistance. Librarians and library staff can lobby for new policies and procedures and increase communication among departments. Library administrators can leverage internal change by encouraging new workflows and can significantly impact the building of a new business model with publishers and aggregators to manage external factors. The last comment of the survey sums up the overall conclusion of this SPEC Kit: Well, good luck with all of this. It seems libraries are all over place with e-books and some are very aggressively trying to acquire while others appear to be sticking their heads in the sand and pretending it doesn’t exist. Libraries, librarians, and publishers should all be working harder in this place to help shape the model and the future of all of this. Honestly it makes my skin crawl when libraries suggest that e-books should be purchased and/or operate like print models. If we are just trying to recreate the print model here, then I’m not sure I understand the point. The reality is that nothing in academic libraries is going to be what it used to be, and so many libraries are clinging to that without realizing that the war has already been lost.

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