In 1982, it was predicted by the librarian Wilfrid Lancaster in his book Libraries and librarians in an age of electronics that:

A “research library” of the future, then, need not contain any printed materials at all. It could be a room containing only terminals. Apart from archival repositories of printed records of the past and institutions designed primarily to lend inspirational/recreational reading materials, the libraries of today could well disappear.

Well the future is now here. Ebooks by every measure are increasingly becoming the default publishing format. There are now extant libraries that have no paper books, academic libraries across the world are destroying or putting into storage up to 80% of their paper holdings. Public libraries across the world are also closing due to funding cuts. If you are a librarian still unsure of the value of eBooks, there is probably a museum of historic formats somewhere you could be working in. Otherwise, you need to start being proactive about delivering users what they want, in any format at any time.

Btw, here’s a little guide:

From Bookbee at http://bookbee.net

Also: I am still of a mind that there needs to be an Australian library consortia approach to negotiating eBook loans with publishers for our libraries, CAUL is working with vendors, what is being done for public libraries, nothing probably – NSLA, ALIA, PLA, anyone?


3 thoughts on “eBooks

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention eBooks « New Technologies Interest Group's Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. As lovely as e-book are, the need for the library professional will not die out with the hard-copy publication. The need to find information, do research and create new information will continue the demand for a information professional of some sort. Where this professional sits in the real world, i.e. Library or Not will surely be determined by how we react to e-books and publications of all types, print or non.

    • Exactly right. Which is why librarians (especially public librarians) need to de-align themselves with a format that they have become overly associated with. We need to maintain however the traditional role of describers, selectors, brokers, educators, managers and suppliers of information. We also need to be get in front of book retailers and vendors, we need to become prime suppliers and not wait for vendors to supply us with inferior products. We need to be dictating open formats and licences. It is not as though this a new area, we knew this was coming 20 years ago, and where are we, behind Amazon, behind Google etc. There are 5000 Australian libraries and no coordinated plans or action. A bookshop with 5000 branches would have had their own e-reader, suppliers and contracts with publishers by now.

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