Should Libraries Develop Their Own eBook Reader?
Submitted by birdie on August 8, 2008 - 11:29am
<strong> LISNewsterz, chime in please with your ideas, suggestions, recommendations on this idea from <a href="http://natehill.wordpress.com">Nate Hill, Brooklyn Public Library</a>.</strong> I dropped this thought on the publib listserv the other day and got very little response. Perhaps this is a better forum? What if instead of using tools like the Amazon Kindle or the Sony reader, public libraries designed and built their own electronic reader tool? This way we wouldn't be trying to apply someone else's service point clumsily within in our own unique system. It seems to be a common thread lately that librarians want to go open source and build their own tools, usually in reference to software. What if we applied the same idea to hardware? What if this product was developed by OCLC or ALA or Web Junction or something, and then made available to your library at an affordable rate? One interesting thought came from a guy named Gareth Osler in the UK: "I'm not sure about the need to build a complete new machine, but some standards and software to manage rights (e.g. delete a book after so many weeks unless a 'renew' key is used) could be developed, and installed on consumer readers. That way a user could use their own reader to read library ebooks as long as the reader supported the library standards/software." I liked Osler's angle- its annoying to have to carry around too many different devices, and since everyone has a cellphone, really everyone has a reader already. But I wonder... if in fact public libraries offered Kindle-like readers for checkout, would they become popular simply because of the anonymity they offer? Your cellphone is a remarkably un-private device, but a library ebook reader could offer privacy. Public libraries protect the rights of their patrons to privately access whatever information they want. This is why many people like to access the internet from our public computers: there is a guaranteed anonymity that you might not get when you log onto a website from home. It strikes me that this could make a mobile library device desirable as well.