CT library users want more e-books. Libraries can’t meet the demand

A recent Connecticut Mirror article mentioned the decline in visits to libraries and circulation of material over the last decade. Unfortunately, it didn’t delve into the reasons for the decline.

Nor was the article a holistic review of library use (in Stamford, for example, downloads from subscription databases are way up). During that same time, there has also been a dramatic increase in use of downloadable content, namely e-books, e-audio, and e-video.

Demand for library content has not declined so much as has been thwarted. Library users want more online content, but libraries are unable to meet demand.

Unlike physical books, libraries cannot purchase a digital title, they can only lease it. Leasing is expensive and e-books have to be leased again if they are borrowed over 26 times. With our membership in the Connecticut Library Consortium (CLC), we receive a 46% discount on print copies (costing the library roughly $14). But purchasing the same title in an e-book format costs us somewhere from $65 to $109.

A good example is Michael Connelly’s latest book, Resurrection Walk. Right now, at the Ferguson Library, there is one hold on our 14 print copies, but the online version has 22 holds.

Since libraries began circulating e-books in the early 2000s, they have faced a variety of barriers. At first some publishers refused to offer e-titles to libraries or if they did sell them, the prices varied, as did the terms of use. Over the years, a model developed where bestsellers were available at a much higher price than the print version and with a limited use (26 borrows). Librarians have protested this inequity, but publishers ignored us. With the cost so prohibitively expensive, many libraries are not able to meet community demand.

Like many publicly funded entities, we try to purchase wisely and make tough decisions. Whenever possible, we purchase on state contract. And as a member of the Connecticut Library Consortium, the Ferguson enjoys substantial discounts on databases, books, furniture, etc.

While book vendors do submit to a bid process, e-book vendors do not. The publishers have set the rules of engagement.

Sticking with Resurrection Walk, if you want to buy the e-book, it is only $13.80 on Amazon — much less than what a library pays. This cost differential has a major impact on not only the digital divide but the knowledge divide. Libraries in wealthy communities are able to purchase more digital copies than libraries in less affluent communities. Those with wealth can bypass the library system altogether and purchase a print or digital copy.

In a progressive state that understands the power of knowledge, this status quo is a call for action.

For the past two years, State Sen. Tony Hwang has proposed legislation that would require publishers to adhere to certain contract terms. Last year, Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw and Rep. Matt Blumenthal also championed an e-book bill. The resulting bill is a good one that is grounded in Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices law (Chapter735a, Section 42-110b) and would ensure that contractual agreements between libraries and publishers contain equitable licensing terms for the acquisition of e-books, among other protections.

We hope to see eBook legislation introduced in the next session.

Alice S. Knapp is CEO of the Ferguson Library in Stamford.

Source link

CT library users want more e-books. Libraries can’t meet the demand #library #users #ebooks #Libraries #meet #demand

Source link Google News

Source Link: https://ctmirror.org/2024/02/08/ct-library-e-books-demand/

CT library users want more e-books. Libraries can’t meet the demand:

A recent Connecticut Mirror article mentioned the decline in visits to libraries and circula…