eContent and Libraries
I am going to start my article by using a little bit of library jargon, which I try not to do too much, but every once in a while I just have to use library terminology.
It has been a wild year in what is called electronic content.
To simplify the term, electronic content includes things like Ebooks. However, the full scope of electronic content is growing every day.
Almost every time you go to one your favorite websites, I bet you see an advertisement for some company selling you electronic content. Some of these companies are Amazon, NetFlix and Hulu. Unfortunately, these are not the companies that the library can work with to bring you electronic content.
In the eBook world, it is pretty straightforward for us. We buy books and can circulate them with whatever the restrictions are that the publisher puts on them. For some publishers, that is a limit of the number of times an item can go out. For others, it is a time limit, such as we own the book for two years. Price can also be a restriction for libraries. Some publishers charge libraries 300 times what they charge consumers for the same eBook title.
However, the big development in the eBook world for us is that libraries now have more choices in how we can make eBooks available. In the past, the options available to libraries have been very limited, but in recent months we have learned of many new companies making eBooks available to libraries.
The easiest way to get our eBook collection is to install the 3M mobile app to your tablet or phone and you can almost begin to download books immediately.
Also, audiobook downloads are electronic content. The big development in our audiobook product, OneClickDigital, is the ease of use with their mobile app. They do have a program which you have to download to copy the audiobook to your listening device, but if you want to use your smart phone or your tablet for listening to audiobooks, the mobile app is a great option.
In the coming years, we are going to be expanding electronic content in a number of ways. It will soon be possible for you to stream movies or music from the library. Our ability to offer this is under consideration and we hope that we will have something to announce soon. Other electronic content developments are also under way, such as circulating magazine content.
Our biggest issue with all of this electronic content is how to add new formats while still paying for the traditional paper content which is still so important to the mission of the library. We work on this issue every day. Currently, we spend about 75% of our budget on traditional print items and about 25% of our budget on electronic content. That number will be shifting as time goes on, but we believe in doing that in a responsible and responsive manner.
Innovation is an important value of the library system. However, pragmatism is also a very important value of the library system. Therefore, we will do our best to expand our electronic content, but not in a manner which will put us too far ahead of you and make library service harder.