With the increasing popularity of e-readers and reading books on other digital devices, the libraries have had to begin offering their books for borrowing on these new technologies. There are many ways that they are working to make the library a continued part of the reading experience of the population, and some of the main ways are discussed in the following section.
It is important to note that the way that the libraries are providing service to their community is not just in lending books as in the past, but as much goes into information and using the newer technologies to access even more information than could have ever been stored in the walls of a public library.
There are opportunities and challenges along the way, but the main goal is to encourage and assist people in developing a love of reading and enriching their lives with the information found in books.
The most popular program used in libraries is discussed in a recent article in The Salt Lake City Tribune. The most widely used system by public libraries is called OverDrive. This provides borrowing options to readers using electronic reading devices.
This free service allows patrons of the library to look over the e-books available online, and to download the book in digital version straight to their device. The digital version of the book will then remain on their reader for three weeks, and then the book automatically becomes unavailable. No returning, no late fees, the rental period just ends.
There is a library in North Dakota that is pushing the digital technology even further. The Minot Public Library has made available Kindles, Nooks, and iPad4s for library patrons to check out and use for periods of up to a few weeks.
The purpose is provide access to technology for their patrons, and can be used by those interested in e-readers to determine if it is a product they will actually use, sort of like a test drive. They can also compare the different devices to determine which one works best for their lifestyle. They provide one-on-one instruction on the use of e-readers for their patrons that have made the purchase but are having a difficult time figuring out how to use them on their own.
In the March 23, 2013 issue of The Economist, the current position of libraries and their shifting towards digital books and digital borrowing is discussed in detail. The main idea challenging the whole practice of digital readers is the publishers fearing huge losses in revenue. This prevents many from making their books available to libraries to lend through e-readers.
The majority of books are not available through digital format to libraries. For example, the article states that the average public library only makes 4,350 books available for borrowing digitally, whereas the Amazon website offers more than 1.7 million books for sale. The publishers and the libraries seem to have opposite interests, and the resolution of this conflict will determine how this whole story plays out. Both sides have the most to gain by maintaining and increasing the public interest in reading, and it can be resolved together. A consensual system of digital borrowing that provides benefit to both sides is the best solution.
Being able to borrow books digitally is not the only big change in libraries. These days, you can also take free online courses that help you to be a better librarian.