E-books are firmly in the mainstream and no longer a new, scary technology. So why is it still so difficult to borrow an e-book from the public library? E-reader makers, software developers, and publishers all appear to be working at cross-purposes, and e-book lovers suffer for it.
Given the difficulties I had in getting library ebooks onto my Nexus tablet, I’m awed by this article’s claim that loading library ebooks onto eInk devices (e.g. Kindle) can be even worse. Yikes!
This is an excellent article, especially in its straightforward explanations of the current state of affairs (e.g. limits on ebook lending) for anyone who is new to the topic/hasn’t paid attention before.
When I hear someone say (and I’ve heard it a lot in the past week) “I don’t have anything to hide” I want to say “that’s not the point. This isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It’s about us.” We can’t be a free people if we are constantly watched by the state. It’s as simple as that. (That’s apart from the fact that most people who use these technologies are not US citizens and are presumed to have no rights. That doesn’t seem right.)Librarians were vocally opposed to provisions of the PATRIOT Act when it was hastily passed and public officials made fun of us for it. “Why would we care if people are reading James Patterson?” I recall someone high up in the Bush administration saying. They didn’t want to acknowledge the issue at stake, so made light of libraries and those who use them. (Also: women with buns and glasses! Ridiculous!) That didn’t stop them from wanting to seize records from libraries… .
Recap: My public library offers four different ways to find ebooks, so I tried them all. In searching for books, I tried authors, topics, and titles that I myself want to read or currently have checked out, since that seemed the best way to evaluate whether the available catalog had anything pertinent to my reading interests. (But I didn’t consult my reading list—I did it based on what I could think of, to better reflect how I’d use these systems in real life.) So there are popular titles I could have tried and succeeded in finding, but that wasn’t my goal in this experiment. I split this post into two parts because it got a little long. :) Part one was posted yesterday.
Media on Demand: I had the easiest time finding a book to check out from this catalog (you can even narrow your results to just what’s compatible with your device), but the hardest time figuring out just what I had to do to read the thing on my tablet. For this site, you can only return a book via the website so long as you don’t elect to download the book in any format (you can read it in your browser, or commit to a particular format and return it via that app).
I went with Kindle for testing on the first book, since I had already installed that app on my Nexus. Once I figured out the format part, everything was pretty straightforward (especially since I already had an Amazon account to log in to). The problem with using the Kindle app for library ebooks is that there’s nothing that visibly differentiates the library book from the other books you’ve accumulated in your account. Thus, it could be easy to forget that you had a deadline to read it (and also you can’t return it early from the app if you do happen to finish it). You can, however, go into your Kindle on the Amazon site and return the library ebook from there (it’s obvious in that interface which books are yours and which are loans, so why doesn’t that carry over into the app?).
The other format option I was presented with was EPUB, which seems only compatible with Adobe Digital Editions, which doesn’t have its own Android app (there is at least one that claims to work with such files, but I didn’t try it). [checkout period: 2 weeks; checkout limit: 5 titles]
Freading: Once again the trouble was finding a book I wanted to try to download. Once I found a book via the website on my computer, I used the app to navigate to that book (so downloading it would put it on the right device, since I haven’t figured out transferring files from my computer to my Nexus yet).
The first time I logged in, it didn’t ‘take’, so I had to log in a second time before the download link would work. Then once it downloaded, the file went who-knows-where, because it certainly didn’t show up in the Freading app. I tried downloading it again, but still the file didn’t make the connection to the app. Downloading on the computer worked just fine, with the file opening in Adobe Digital Editions. Interestingly, you cannot return the book early from ADE when you got it from Freading. Not sure why they would set it up that way. I tried a third time with the app after I got it to work on the computer; this time it worked like a charm and even showed up on my list twice. *shakes head*
After that, I went to find a different book, and I had to log in AGAIN. The good news is that second download worked the first time (and again showed up twice). The internal navigation in the ebooks worked the best of any of them—though it did sometimes hang up a bit while trying to move to the desired section—and again there was no easy way to get back to the table of contents (the second book I tried was a cookbook). Also, leaving the book means losing your spot and there’s no functionality in the app (that I can find) that allows you to mark your spot or even change the font size. [checkout period: 2 weeks, checkout limit: based on # of tokens per week, which is set by your library]
Conclusion: Oy vey. I guess the winner is Media On Demand, just for the fact that I had the easiest time finding something to read without consulting my lengthy to-read list, but this process is not optimal for any of them. The library offerings fare okay against Google Books if you assume that the user (i.e. me) refuses to actually buy anything, but if the user is willing to spend money to get something to read, then the library doesn’t stand a chance against the ease of Amazon, et al. I suppose the good news is that I pretty much have my library card memorized by now…
Oh, goodness, where do I begin? My public library offers four different ways to find ebooks, so I tried them all. In searching for books, I tried authors, topics, and titles that I myself want to read or currently have checked out, since that seemed the best way to evaluate whether the available catalog had anything pertinent to my reading interests. (But I didn’t consult my reading list—I did it based on what I could think of, to better reflect how I’d use these systems in real life.) So there are popular titles I could have tried and succeeded in finding, but that wasn’t my goal in this experiment. I split this post into two parts because it got a little long. :)
3M: I had a hard time finding any book in their catalog that I could think of off the top of my head to search. And finding a book was made that much more difficult by a slow-loading website (note: it seemed to load fine later in the day). In the end I picked a cookbook just to have something to test.
3M wins points for requiring only your library card info to log in, both on the computer and in the app (no extra account to create, yay!). The app is pretty straightforward, but trying to navigate around the book was a BEAST. The app did have a Table of Contents within the book info that was easier to use that the in-book ToC (I could only sometimes click on a section and get it to go to that section in the book), but after a certain point you get dumped back into the in-book navigation, which worked so poorly I don’t think I can honestly say it worked at all. Trying to select a specific recipe from the list only rarely worked, and what’s the point of having a list if you can’t go directly to the one you want? And then once you did end up at an actual recipe, there was no easy way to go back to the list of recipes in that section—you had to go back to the book info and navigate again into the ToC. So annoying.
I also checked out a fiction book, just to check if these navigation problems were unique to the cookbook, but alas they aren’t. Once again I had to resort to the ToC in the book info, and what patron would think to look there? Plus side: it keeps your spot in the book even when you close the app and then come back later. Returning the book also has to be done from the book info section of the app (or it can be done via the website), which I wonder how many people would find without knowing to look. [checkout period: 3 weeks]
Axis 360: Again I had a bit of trouble finding anything in their catalog that I wanted to read. So I downloaded a nonfiction book from one of their website displays, and afterward discovered a fiction book I hadn’t thought of but that I do have on my reading list and downloaded that, too. This site gives you an option of downloading the books via Blio or in ePub; I chose the Blio option. Blio’s app is certainly colorful, but I wasn’t a fan of needing to create an account. For some reason, the text on my app is defaulting to Large (instead of Normal), which messes with the page layouts just enough that I had to figure out how to change it back.
As with 3M, the in-book navigation is dicey, but it works better than with 3M—which is just as well, since Blio doesn’t have any ToC functionality in the app itself. The app does, however, automatically mark the spot where you left off, which is nice. In my nonfiction book, though, once I’d been in it once and left, it couldn’t load in the app again, even after I shut down the app, shut down the Nexus, and started over. [It’s been another day, and it still wouldn’t load, so I removed that book from my tablet.]
I did not find any place in the app to return the books, which doesn’t make sense. There is a nice Buy Now link at the end of the fiction book, though (nice one, HarperCollins). I didn’t find a place to return the books on the website, either, so I guess I’m stuck with them until June 29th. Since the fiction book I tested was Divergent, I went ahead and started reading it… I’ll be done well before the 29th. Probably even before the end of the week. So the fact that I can’t return it early rather bothers me. [checkout period: 3 weeks]
This looks like an awesome tool for anyone dealing with K-12 readers (I’ve even added it to our Education subject guide, woo). :)
So, so very true. Especially this one:
I’m sorry to bother you. Goodness, no, you are not bothering us. We are at the desks in public areas so that we can be of help to you. We might be working on a project, but that is just to stay busy until the next patron comes along and needs our help.
We have a sign behind our reference desk that says “Please bother the librarian.” I noticed and loved it when I was here to interview and now I really want to make it bigger or move it closer to where I sit or something because I want to emphasize it even more. Yes, please! Bother me! That’s why I’m sitting out here, after all. :)
The Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association and the Maternity and Infant Care Database from MIDIRS are freely accessible during the month of May in celebration of Nurses’ Week (which Ovid is turning into Nurses’ Month for the purpose of this promotion).
Access requires signup for each resource; click the links above or access the links via the Promotions tab on the Ovid site.
The vast majority (94%) of parents of minor children (children under 18) feel libraries are very important for their children, not only because they foster a love of reading, but also because they provide information, resources, and a safe place.
Our new report out today portrays the special bond that parents, especially mothers, share with libraries.
I don’t have kids but my sister does, and I know they use the library a lot—their public library had a “1,000 books before kindergarten” program and my niece (at age three!) was the first to finish. :) The reward was, naturally, a book. (No, she’s not reading on her own yet, but that will come.)
Welcome to the BEN portal, the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Pathway for biological sciences education. The BEN Portal provides access to education resources from BEN Collaborators and is managed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Over 18,827 reviewed resources covering 77 biological sciences topics are available. BEN resources can help you engage student interest, shorten lesson preparation time, provide concept updates, and develop curricula that are in line with national standards for content, use of animals and humans, and student safety.
Materials can be browsed by subject, resource type, and audience (potential audiences covered include pretty much every age level you can think of). Not everything is free, but the majority seems to be.
This seems like an interesting resource, especially if you’re teaching science topics.
I wasn’t entirely sure what the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) would look like when the long-awaited launch date of April 18 approached. The suspense is finally over: it looks great.
The DPLAs not going to be a digital version of your local public library’s collections and services – at least, not yet. It is trying to do three things right now: pull together digital assets from major national and regional digital collections into a well-organized, unified, easily searchable portal; provide digital tools and metadata that others can use to build new applications; and provide national leadership in the effort to encourage open and collective access to our shared cultural record.
Last night we mentioned that Oxford University Press will provide free access in North and South America to the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Reference to celebrate National Library Week that begins on Sunday.
I don’t know that the selected materials will be much help for reference questions, but some of them are fun to poke around in. :)