From the Director...
"Have you read a good book lately?"
Have you read a good e-book lately? Long anticipated and much discussed, electronic books are making their way into library service. In June, a group of Nebraska academic and public libraries worked together to purchase a collection of e-books from netLibrary. The Nebraska library e-book consortium pooled funds to purchase a collection of more than two thousand titles. The e-book collection will be available to library customers for loan. Similar to the loan of physical books, these books are available for a much shorter duration and to only one reader at a time.
The arrival of the e-book has drawn mixed reactions. Some dismiss e-books as impractical and expensive, perhaps due to a fear that e-books will replace the physical book. New technologies make portable electronic reading devices a good alternative to the physical book. These slim, light, and powerful devices eliminate portability and convenience problems. The reality is that readers will have a choice. E-books will not replace the physical book. New media will join old media.
E-books should stimulate new information products. Stephen King's Internet novella, Riding the Bullet, debuted in March. With more than one half million downloads, it served as a successful test of electronic publication. Electronic publications have potential for furthering specialized publishing. A distribute-on-demand publishing model will encourage availability of specialized books, text and technical books, and serial publications. The e-book is creating new markets for small and specialty publishers.
Some Nebraska libraries have purchased electronic reading devices for demonstration and loan. E-books are suitable for any library. Libraries can join with other libraries for cooperative purchasing, making available hundreds of titles at a cost based on the library's service population or some other equitable formula. E-books won't replace the physical book and the Internet won't replace libraries. Indeed, the Internet and e-books put libraries in an even more central position. People need libraries for Internet services and for e-books. E-books present a great opportunity for libraries to introduce and promote new products and services to interest and serve their customers.
So, what's a librarian to do? Take note of trade publications and product advertisements that feature e,books. Participate in trials and demonstrations of e,books. Beg for, borrow, or buy an electronic reading device and get acquainted with how it works and what it can do. Try it out. Consider how e-books and other electronic information content can supplement the library's physical collection of books and materials. Get ready for a future where e-books will be as available and common as the physical book. Rod Wagner
Advisory Council Meets
The State Advisory Council on Libraries held its June meeting at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. Council member Mo Khamouna hosted the meeting and gave a tour of the newly renovated library facility.
Dee Yost, Republican Valley Library System Administrator, summarized the system's membership and services. Commission staff updated Council members on issues, including the Communities and Libraries Advocacy grant from the Viburnum Foundation, the Gates Library Foundation Technology Project, the reauthorization of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and grants awarded this spring by the Commission. The Council followed up on their March planning session with a discussion of the NebrasKard and unanimously reaffirmed their support for the project. The next meeting of the State Advisory Council on Libraries will be September 22 in Sidney. For more information see the Library Commission home page at nlc.nebraska.gov, search on Council Minutes.
Mary Nash reports on Council priorities set during March planning effort.