PDGP Recipient Enjoys NYLA’s E-Readers Sessions

Thanks to the Western New York Library Resource Council’s Professional Development Grant program I was able to attend the 2011 New York Library Association Annual Conference [NYLA] in Saratoga Springs, NY, November 2-5, 2011.

 I attended multiple sessions while at the conference including Performance Metrics, Teen Spaces Reimagined, Emerging Trends in Technology, Library Leadership vs. Library Management, Video Game Design, Everything “E”, and Devices: E-Readers, iPads, Apps.  All of the presentations I attended were informative and useful.  I can easily apply what I learned at my library. 

However, two sessions that I found currently applicable to my library were Everything “E” and Circulating Devices: E-Readers, iPads, Apps presented by the Fayetteville Free Library [FFL].  In the first session, Everything “E”, we were given the pros and cons of four currently available eBook collections including Overdrive, 3M Cloud, Blio, and Freading.  Representatives from Overdrive and 3M were also present and provided a short introduction to their products.  Baker & Taylor, of Blio, and Library Ideas, creator of Freading, did not have representatives present.   The second session, Circulating Devices, provided different aspects of circulating eReading devices and the results the library has seen.

In my opinion, the two front runners are Overdrive and 3M.  Overdrive currently has the largest collection of eBooks and eAudiobooks available, approximately 650,000 titles, and is the only vendor to offer Kindle books.  Overdrive is also the only collection that currently allows for music and video borrowing in addition to books.  However, the download process is confusing to many users.  All of the copyrighted eBooks need to run through Adobe Digital Editions for authentication purposes.  A major downside is that libraries do not own the titles they purchase through Overdrive.  Should the library choose to switch vendors they will lose access to all of their purchased materials.

3M’s collection of eBooks is smaller, approximately 100,000 titles, but is housed in the cloud instead of on a server enabling users to access the same title from multiple devices.  Your device connects to their collection through the 3M app.  3M eBooks do not need to use Adobe Digital Editions; they authenticate users directly from their library card number.  3M also offers their own eReaders to use for circulation and they offer a terminal for in-library checkout.  Additionally, if the library chooses to switch vendors for its eBook collection 3M will help transfer all of the purchased titles to the new vendor.  eBooks are the only format available from 3M; you cannot borrow eAudiobooks, music, or video.  Kindles are not compatible either.  3M is currently Beta testing their cloud library at eleven libraries across the country and so is not available to the majority of libraries at this time.

The issue of privacy was also discussed with regards to Overdrive’s Kindle books.  Librarians are proponents of free access and guarding the privacy of their patrons.  However, to access Kindle Books from Overdrive you are directed to the Amazon website to download your library title.  Amazon keeps track of what titles you borrow and uses it to make purchase suggestions among other things.  However, Kindle owners must agree to the terms of use set up by Amazon when they purchase their Kindle.  Part of that agreement allows Amazon to track Kindle purchases.  Therefore users have already agreed to this tracking policy making it a non-issue for librarians.

In the second session, they discussed the various devices they circulate, the statistics for individual devices, and the policies they developed.  FFL circulates Nook Wi-Fi’s, Nook Colors, Kindles, iPads, and iPod touches.  Materials come preloaded on the devices whether they are apps, songs, magazines, or books depending on the device.  Their statistics show that the highest circulating device is the iPad followed by the Nook Color.  In 5 months they had 37 users checkout the iPad with 100% stating they would check it out again. 

When a device is returned the user is given a short survey to fill out while their items are being checked in.  FFL found that the majority of iPad borrowers were using it to access games and the net.  In contrast, Nook borrowers used the Nook mostly for reading or listening to books.  Based on that user information, FFL has adjusted their acquisition schedule to mimic user needs; iPads get new books quarterly while Nooks get them monthly.

             Circulation statistics and the reasons devices were borrowed provides insight into what we should be including in our own collections.  FFL’s results may not be universal but they do show what is currently trending.  Small libraries with limited budgets can use this information to decide on what devices to purchase and what materials to load on each device.  After purchase individual libraries can do their own patron surveys to tailor their devices to what their communities need and want.

I think the future of libraries is clear in this respect.  Libraries will need to circulate tablets and eReaders just as we circulate books and playaways now.  Downloadable book collections will be accessed as frequently as any other database currently available in electronic format. eReaders and tablets are simply new tools for accessing our collections.  This change is no more detrimental than when we switched to online catalogs or added patron computers.

Kristine Mostyn, Lee-Whedon Library–Nioga Library System

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