Breakout Session III & Wrap-Up: eBooks, Blue Sky, & Overload


Define eBook. What does it include? eBook defined broadly as any electronic text that couldn’t easily be described as something else. (That is, a web page would not be an eBook.) Examples are epub files, PDF files, etc.

Some people use eBook to refer to eReader devices

eBooks are files, eReaders are hardware.

Sony Readers, Nook, and Kobo work with Overdrive. Sony Readers and Nooks are preferred.

Kindle is proprietary to Amazon. Overdrive books will not work on a Kindle.

EPUB is the emerging standard for eBooks.

Kindles will not support EPUB.

UNO has Kindles and loads them with books purchased from Amazon.

But if a patron wants to purchase an eReader for the purposes of using your library’s eBooks (primarily Overdrive), suggest Nook or Sony Reader. These are the most library-friendly devices.

Download library’s eBook for two weeks, then the file self-deletes. There might be waiting lists, as these eBooks, like print books, can only be used by one person at a time. (This is a licensing restriction, not a technology restriction.)

Length of loan period can be determined by individual libraries. Omaha Public Library’s eBook loan period is two weeks. Some other libraries have one week, with eBooks from NLC.

DRM, expiration dates, etc. all apply to eBooks, just like with NLC’s downloadable audiobooks.

What are the benefits of eBooks?

–Don’t have to take a lot of books when traveling


–Saving physical space if one has no storage space

–Can make any book a large print book

–Some eBooks have text-to-speech capabilities

–Collection development–potentially cheaper than print books

–Increases privacy–people see the case of an eReader, not the cover of a bodice-ripper (erotica is number one selling genre in eBooks)

Eyestrain issues? eInk (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader) vs. LCD (iPad, smartphones, laptops) — eInk is not backlit, so reduces eyestrain. But physical print is still king for visual clarity.

The jury is still out whether eBooks are more green than print. Manufacturing of print books vs. manufacturing of eReader devices.

Downsides of eBooks?

–Existing collection bundles of eBooks might not be appropriate for all libraries (e.g.: NLC’s collections are geared more toward academic libraries)

–Competing formats, standards, and suppliers

–Not always portable. For example, NetLibrary books can be downloaded to computer, but not necessarily to a reader.

–DRM issues–do you actually own it or are you paying for access only

–Power–battery may go dead

–Travel issues–must turn off eReaders during airplane takeoffs and landings

–Difficulty of sharing–Nook has unusual feature, allows a one-time loan to one friend, for a limited period; no other eReader offers this

iPad and others mimic the turning of pages. If eBooks are superior to print, why are they mimicking print?

Books as art. Some books are things of physical beauty. This can not be replicated electronically.

Print books stay around a really long time. How many 20-year-old computer files do you still have that you can read?

About half of the libraries represented in the room were loaning eBooks of some variety. Only UNO was loaning actual devices (Kindles and iPads).

Michael Sauers requests a total of the amount UNO has spent on Kindle eBooks, compared to how much it would have cost us to purchase those same titles in print.

For popular fiction, eBook may cost the same as hardback, so eBooks are not necessarily cheaper.

55 libraries are part of Overdrive consortium. Some small libraries circulate thousands of titles per year, for use on patrons’ devices, so in some communities, eBooks have really taken off. A lot depends on the community.

If you buy the print book, you have to pay for the print book, the cataloging, and the physical processing. If you buy the eBook, you have to pay for the book, the devices, and the cataloging. The cost of the devices may end up being less than the cost of the processing, once enough eBooks have been purchased.

Library of the future: a desk with a small bookcase in the back. That’s all the physical space you need.

Amazon tried to establish $9.99 as the set price for an eBook. Publishers rebelled.

With James Patterson’s latest book, the print book was actually cheaper than the eBook. Amazon discounted the hardback, but they couldn’t discount the electronic book because that price was set by the publisher.

eTextbooks becoming more popular. Some professors and some universities mandate that textbooks will be on Kindle, not in print. Weight issue–textbooks are very heavy, so eBooks are desirable. Competing standards might be a counter-issue–what if different professors’ textbooks are available for incompatible eReader devices?

Pictures on eInk devices are only black and white (grayscale). Low resolution sometimes reduces quality. LCD devices can display full color.

eInk is little tiny electrified dots which turn the light or dark side up depending on charge. Battery power only used when changing a page; no power consumed while displayed page remains static. LCD screens consume power constantly; drain batteries much more quickly.

Must view library as a business. Give patrons what they are looking for.

Technology is wide open to making hyperbooks, but most eBooks are still just “the book.” It has not been much done, but the technology exists to incorporate audio and video into books. Hyperlinks seem like a natural fit for “Choose Your Own Adventure” type books.

Getting individual eBooks in a library setting is daunting, when most things come in packages and bundles.

Can’t interlibrary loan eBooks. (Licensing issue.)

If you buy books for one type of eReader, you can not easily transfer them to another eReader.

[Ten minute break]

Blue Sky

What would your library be like in five years, if you didn’t have to worry about budget or staffing? (Blue skies ahead.)

Printing problems solved. Everything works.

New shelves. (One library has non-adjustable shelves.)

eCookBook on Nook

Digital libraries conference in Australia, “Libraries in Ten Years.”

Some libraries are doing away with physical collections. Some are doing away with physical buildings altogether. Going all-electronic.

Even if there’s no books in the building, you can still do storytime and community events. Library could still exist as a place.

For storytime, eBooks on the big screen.

There are 3D TVs now, and video game controllers that track your motions. Probably just a matter of time before large displays in stores and libraries are like walls you walk up to and manipulate with a few waves of your hand.

Libraries are about community. Even if you lost the physical structure, you would still want to maintain something so that you could still have the community atmosphere and the programming that libraries provide.

Blue Sky — people understand that libraries are more than books. Books are our brand. But last year, libraries circulated more DVDs than Netflix. Blue sky future is where the community understands what the library really does for the community.

PR capsules–“Did you know…?” “Visit your library.”

It takes a person to explain how to sort through the Google results to find the wheat in the chaff. People don’t know what they don’t know.

Need to promote beyond books–storytimes, community events, volunteer opportunities. Get people in the door.

Let people pick the books the library orders.

The library is a business. Yes and no. We’re competing in a business-oriented world. In most instances, a public library is still a government service. We’re kind of in a middle ground.

We’ll need to think about a lot of things differently. Embedded librarians. In the past, we had liaison librarians. Now they’re putting the librarians in the departments or agencies they serve. Instead of a librarian in a library office, being a liaison to X department elsewhere in the city, that librarian’s office is in X department’s headquarters, and they work directly with that agency. Librarian no longer headquartered inside the library.

Our business in making connections. Connections with business, connections with our community. That is the message we need to convey (both to our patrons and to our colleagues).

Find the people who control your budget (e.g.: city council members, etc.), find out what they’re interested in, do the research, get the info, then pass it along to them. Don’t wait for them to ask. Do it unsolicited. Create the connection.

Local connections are the future.

We have been adapting. Libraries wouldn’t have coffeeshops if bookstores hadn’t done it first.

Hire a promoter, someone to promote your library. Librarians suck at marketing. We don’t have to, though. There are probably people on staff who have those skills, but their jobs don’t include that duty. Allow them–everyone on staff–to promote the library.

Library as “third place.” Not those word, but that concept dates back to Carnegie.

It’s really hard to think “blue sky” when you’re having a lot of trouble running in place now. It’s hard to think five years out when you’re having trouble with next month.

If you had more money, what would you like to provide?

In small communities, there is always someone–a small group–who shows up to everything and who knows everyone. Connect with those people.

Start a book club.

In a very small town, it might be possible to send Christmas cards to your patrons.

When a new baby is born, send postcard every month with some kind of library resource that would be of use (to the parents early on, and later to the children when they’re old enough) for maybe the first five years.

If your community doesn’t have a senior center, start some activities for seniors.

Gaming night to draw in teens. These sometimes bring in all ages, from little kids to grandparents.

Some patrons come to the library to use the computer and nothing else.

If books are our brand, but people are not coming to the library for books anymore, but rather for other programs and services, why are we still measuring our success by circulation stats?

Guerilla displays–put up displays briefly (just a couple of displays) in places you don’t normally have displays.

Tie your library displays to your programming. If you’re having a gaming night, make a display of hint guides. If you’re showing Finding Nemo, put up a display on fish. Make sure the activities and collections are thematically connected.


Information overload. That feeling that there’s way to much coming at you, that you can’t handle it all.

How do you handle it? What tools do you use? How do you keep track of it?

A human filter–a friend or colleague who keeps you apprised of new developments. (For example, someone tracks info that comes from NLC–separate folders for Christa Burns, Michael Sauers, etc.–and looks in those folders every week.)

Set a specific time every week–make an appointment with yourself, so it’s blocked out in your calendar–to do whichever task you’re having trouble keeping up with.

Give yourself permission to miss stuff. (Not deadlines.) For example, give yourself permission to not read about technology for one day while you catch up on everything else.

Email, RSS feeds, and Twitter are Michael Sauers’ tools for keeping up with everything.

Don’t use your inbox as a To Do list. Zero out your inbox regularly.

Feed bankruptcy. If you’re gone for a week, come back and mark all RSS feeds read. Don’t try to slog through them.


What did you hear today that you want to make sure everyone remembers? What ideas do you want to share with everyone?

On a moveable-type sign that everyone in town sees, put, “Visit your library.”

Put up a map of the United States and mark where you’ve been and invite patrons to mark everyplace they’ve been.

Challenge students to be in the “million word club”–to read a million words in a year. (See AR Bookfind.)

Search YouTube for Inbox Zero for the original talk on zeroing out your inbox.

Coffee Hour. (Book clubs usually draw only women. Coffee hours draw both men and women.)

First Reader Society Book Club. Stickers in library books. First student to read a book can write their name on it. (Is this a violation of patron privacy? Not if it’s voluntary.)

Patron reading lists. Patrons can see what they’ve read previously. (Not a violation of patron privacy as long as library staff can not see this information.)


About akroeger

I'm a cataloger at the Criss Library, University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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