Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Libraries and digital lending

The New York Times article, Libraries and Readers Wade into Digital Lending shows that libraries, at least some of them, are aware of their readers' changing needs. This is not true of all libraries, however, and many, perhaps most, have no e-book downloads available at all. Like everything else, libraries have to allocate their limited resources as best they can. If downloads are available, on what devices may they be read?

I live in a Chicago suburb whose library has no electronic books available for download, although it has many other outstanding resources, such as NewsBank which gives us archived editions of both Chicago newspapers as well as Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report and other magazines, including the current issues. A nearby library in another suburb has an unimpressive number of downloadable audiobooks available via Overdrive but no electronic books. As far as I know, Overdrive e-books, wherever they are available, are only downloadable to Sony e-readers leaving the rest of us out in the cold. Hardly an incentive to go out and buy a Sony, though, with only a few scattered books around. Anyone planning to buy a Sony thinking that they can download books from their library had best check first. Do you really want to read a book on your computer's backlit screen?