Thursday, January 19, 2012

Public Libraries Struggle to Meet E-Book Demand

On Sunday, The Washington Post had a great front-page article about the problems facing public libraries as we try to meet the public's demand for e-Books. 

Entitled "E-reader Revolution Creates Demand Libraries Can't Meet",  the author identified some of the key issues:
  • Titles Not Available - Not all books are available as e-books.
  • Publishers Not Willing to Sell to Libraries - Many of the publishers of the most popular titles won't sell e-books to libraries.
  • Lack of Funds to Stock an Adequate E-Book Collection - When funds are short, libraries are having a difficult time carving out sufficient funds to buy e-books, plus maintain existing collections. 
  • Libraries Don't Make Downloads Easy - The vendors that libraries must use to provide e-books for our customers make browsing the collection and downloading titles notoriously difficult.
Ebooks still make up a very small proportion of our library system's circulation -- Less than 1% out of about 2.6 million items borrowed in 2011.  But that percentage grew by about more than 6200% in one year.  And, we expect it to grow even more in the coming year. 

Right now, to make our money go as far as it can, we are working with the Dauphin County Library System to provide a shared e-book collection for our library card members.

That seems to be a reasonable solution for now...but stay tuned as we continue to work on this rapidly growing service.