Digital Library News

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Photo courtesy of nbclatino.com

Photo courtesy of nbclatino.com

Renewed concerns about students who use tablets for reading have surfaced as experts now fear the “bells and whistles” approach to enhanced ebooks are actually stunting student comprehension. At last week’s American Educational Research Association in Philadelphia, researchers Heather Ruetschlin Schugar and Jordan T. Schugar presented their findings from a study that pitted middle school students with print and digital books. The results of the subsequent testing showed a higher level of comprehension when the students read print books.

The books, created with iBooks author software, may have contained too many features like hyperlinks, images, and embedded video, leading the students to try to garner enough information about the story from the extras rather than interacting with the actual text. Other features often found in children’s ebooks include games, tactile interactions like the ability to manipulate the background, and even audio sounds that play while the student reads.

Other researchers have already concluded that some students actually comprehend better when multimedia enhancements are offered alongside the text. A study reported on last week from Booktrack demonstrated that adults and older students retain more of what they read when music that fits the story plays in the background. Also, sound effects that coincide with troublesome or unfamiliar vocabulary can help language learners, such as a car horn beeping as the new word “honked” is introduced.

What researchers are now starting to notice is that there is no one-size-fits-all method for reading fluency and comprehension. Students learn in different ways, a fact that has been known among educators for decades. Features that enhance learning for one student can easily hinder it for another, so curricular decisions and opportunities need to be made available in a wide variety of formats.

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It feels like every new step in the right direction also leads to a host of new problems and closures for public libraries where digital lending is concerned. It’s been years since the first debates over protecting the interests of authors and publishers, with solutions–albeit often pathetic ones–proposed so long ago that the system should have sorted itself out by now. With recent pilot programs to test the waters in the UK that still require patrons to physically enter their libraries in order to check out new releases as ebooks, and the reports that ebook prices for libraries are still inflated by hundreds of percents, it’s easy to feel like libraries are coming under attack. This time, though, it’s not apathetic city councils and budget cuts, it’s the publishers themselves.

Bills in Maryland and Connecticut were first proposed last year that would require publishers to charge a commensurate amount for libraries’ ebook editions of their catalogs of titles. As it stands now, pricing is making it almost impossible for libraries to fully support ebook lending. A recent report on pricing from the Douglas County (CO) Library System demonstrated that an ebook that typically costs a consumer just over $10 can cost a library almost $50. Add to that the fact that the library is merely licensing the right to use the digital file and not actually owning the book, the pricing can make libraries hesitate a little.

Unfortunately, those bills have not gone forward, and by some reports, the American Library Association was against the bill in Maryland.

Part of the struggle that libraries face also comes from their patrons. In the digital mindsets of many consumers, waiting to borrow an ebook seems pointless. The same people who happily put their names on the checkout list to borrow a print book grumble at having to wait to download a book to their devices. Fortunately, studies have shown that this benefits publishers, as ebook borrowing (and the ability to borrow ebooks, even without having finished or read them) has led to an increase in click throughs and purchases of other books. Ideally, this is not behind publishers’ decisions to keep the price of ebooks artificially inflated for libraries.

Photo courtesy of stuff.co.nz

Photo courtesy of stuff.co.nz


A recent program for UK libraries to lend ebooks has been considered not only a success for institutions and patrons, but also for publishers given the number of click through sales that resulted from borrows. The report, given at a panel at the London Book Fair this week, was from the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) president Janene Cox.

The program, launched on March 3rd, 2014, in four areas of the country, gave visitors to the physical libraries access to content that wasn’t available elsewhere, including new releases. While visitors still had to come into their libraries to access the list of titles, they were gaining this access to content that wasn’t readily available for device lending elsewhere.

The results of the pilot have already been enlightening and positive, and interestingly have also been in line with patron behavior in various pilots and studies conducted by different companies in different countries. Sourcebooks and OverDrive teamed up last year to study the effects of unlimited checkouts and free simultaneous access to one title in particular, coupled with publisher branding of the book. Several years ago, Kobo released the results from its online marketplace that looked at user behavior when ebooks were available for free or at nearly no cost, which is the correlating cost for library patrons.

In almost every aspect, these studies have shown that publishers benefit when their books are readily available for borrowing. The click through rate in library lending is fairly high, with many of the patrons purchasing titles before even finishing the book. As in the Sourcebooks experiment, sales of that author’s other titles–not related in a series to the title that was made available–also increased, as did his social media following as readers sought him out online.

eBook lending has been a struggle for the industry, with different publishers experimenting with different lending parameters and limitations in an effort to protect the interests of their companies and their authors. Libraries have now been shown to be a source of revenue for publishers, not a source of contention.

Overdrive is getting quite ubiquitous for digital eBooks at the library. The company has the largest international footprint and a huge marketing department. In most cases the libraries that buy into Overdrive are the same ones doing business with 3M Cloud Library and Axis 360. A new report issued this week asks the question what eBook distribution system is preferred for US libraries?

A recent satisfaction survey went out from 3M to 200 different libraries in the United States. All libraries deal with both Overdrive and 3M and were told not to hold back on any punches. The goal of this survey is to ensure that 3M stays in tune with the rapidly changing needs of eBooks in public libraries. Out of the respondents the 114 libraries preferred the 3M Cloud Library and 78 picked Overdrive. If we look a bit deeper at the data, 38% answered that they were “very satisfied” with 3M Cloud Library versus only 14% being “very satisfied” with OverDrive. Similarly, when asked the question “How likely are you to recommend to other libraries?” 47% answered “very likely” to recommend 3M to other libraries while only 22% answered “very likely” to recommend OverDrive.

One of the big reasons why libraries dig the 3M ecosystem is because it ties into major ILS systems a little more fluidly. Triple iii and Polaris are the most popular ILS systems and are designed to simplify librarians lives, by reporting on checkouts, sales, and all aspects of daily library life. Most of this data ends up in annual reports to justify funding and also inform the American Library Association on lending behaviors. One of the big problems is when a library does physical and digital lending and deals with more than one company to facilitate it. Current ILS systems were not designed to function in this way and is a growing concern to major libraries all over the world. 3M is finding great success dealing with Polaris and other ILS vendors to incorporate its API tools into their platforms. This allows libraries to get firmware updates to their ILS platforms that have the 3M system built into it, making everyone’s lives way easier.

Tom Mercer the Marketing Manager of 3M told Good e-Reader “This survey shows that 3M is building a great product and working hard to ensure our librarians are satisfied. We believe our high customer satisfaction score and come from the easy to use back end tools and collection development recommendations as well as the continued circulation growth our libraries see each month from new and existing users.”

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Random House and EBSCO have come to terms on a new digital book strategy for libraries. Starting today, over 30,000 titles will be available from some of the most notable Random House authors, including Dan Brown, Sheryl Sandberg, Dean Koontz, Gillian Flynn and more.

Random House titles have been added to the nearly 600,000 eBooks and audiobooks that EBSCO eBooks already offers. The titles represent both frontlist and popular backlist titles from all Random House imprints and publishing groups, which publish fiction and nonfiction, both original and reprints, by some of the foremost and most popular writers of our times.

The partnership will help librarians acquire high-demand titles in a cost-effective way since there are no markups or fees of any kind on EBSCO eBook titles. EBSCO makes it easy for librarians to build or grow e-book collections through featured collections. Random House titles will be included in EBSCO’s Best-Sellers Collection, New Releases Collection and Youth Award Winners Collection.

Many libraries that do business with EBSCO such as Brooklyn and Philadelphia currently do not have any of the new Random House titles. It is up to the librarians to order the books to make them available to the patrons. Hopefully many libraries all over the US will be putting in orders to stock their virtual shelves with a ton of great titles.

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As libraries look for news ways to stay relevant and meet their patrons’ needs, increasing numbers of institutions are implementing digital lending. eBook lending, along with movie, music, and audiobook streaming, is helping these entities keep their doors open by offering the content their patrons need in the platforms they want to consumer it.

But one area where digital adoption has traditionally been slow to take root is in children’s and teens’ books, a fact that digital content provider OverDrive is helping to erase with the opportunity for its member libraries to offer digital eReading Rooms. These virtual spaces work much the same as a physical location that caters to young library patrons, but still keeps the need for digital adoption in mind.

A recent blog post from OverDrive outlined how one library in San Antonio is making headway with the incorporation of two eReading Rooms, one for younger readers and one focused specifically for teens.

“The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) is committed to providing the best possible customer service to our patrons, and kids and teens represent large segments of our patron population. The ability to customize the collections within the eReading Rooms allows us to tailor the content to align with library initiatives like the Summer Reading Program and Teen Tech Week and yearly themed content such as National Poetry Month and Women’s History Month. Also, developmentally appropriate material is now more easily accessible to teachers and parents since content can be searched by reading and interest level. These eReading Rooms bring attention to the great richness of SAPL’s collections, while helping us to accommodate the evolving interest that our patrons have for accessing content digitally,” explained Caitlin Cowart, Community and Public Relations Manager, in the post.

While Cowart went on to explain that a project like this is not a catch-all solution for encouraging reading and library participation, it is a valuable tool for reaching patrons where they are and for making the library an important part of the community for all citizens, not just the few who come to the physical location for content, education, and technology needs.

“The library understands that the digital marketplace is maturing. Remote, online access to library content and resources that is personalized and user-friendly drives the virtual user and positions SAPL as a responsive, innovative resource for a new, technology-conscious generation of library patrons.”

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Most of us have fond memories of our school libraries, remembering them as colorful places with overly friendly librarians. It may be hard to believe, but school libraries are in almost as much danger of closing due to lack of funds as public libraries, even in the era of digital subscription content providers and Bring Your Own Device compatibility.

An article today for The Bookseller highlighted one school library system in the UK, North Yorkshire County, that will be closing its school library service effective March of 2015. The reason? Lack of use on the part of schools. Sadly, the closure of this subscription-based service that schools could opt to pay into will mean loss of qualified resource personnel to assist the schools, collections and titles that the schools could borrow, and even a 20% discount to some bookshops that children from member schools were entitled to, among other services.

This school library service marks the fifth one that has closed across the UK in recent years.

An interesting conundrum is taking place where libraries are concerned and it now appears to be affecting school libraries in an important way. In the US, studies have shown that less than half of survey respondents reported having visited a library or used its online portal in the last year, yet nearly all respondents stated that libraries were vital to their communities. It seems that citizens want libraries to exist, but much like in the case of North Yorkshire County’s schools, they don’t plan to use them. What is seen as a cause for the greater good isn’t fulfilling a need in the majority of stakeholders’ lives.

One key issue that school systems face in the US is the political segregation of individual school systems. Having an area wide school library service would actually be a tremendous benefit. With some counties having as many as five or six different school systems in that county alone, each system having its own numbers of individual schools, having the option to subscribe to the privilege to borrow books from a centralized–even privately owned–library service makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, it’s not a behavior that school systems are used to engaging in. It is far more common to take an “every man for himself” approach to supplies and funding, leading to a serious amount of wasted funds.

With the acceptance of digital content services like OverDrive, hopefully schools will abandon the notion that they do not share resources, even within their geographic locations, and school library services will continue to grow.

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Overdrive is the premier digital distribution service that powers your local library. Part of their business strategy is to deliver content to K12 schools. Penguin and Overdrive have announced that 17,000 eBooks are available for schools to order.

Beloved authors including Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, John Green, Holly Goldberg Sloan and many others bring to life characters that engage readers of all ages through their powerful, playful, insightful and educational prose. Must-have titles include James and the Giant Peach, Superfudge, Counting by 7s, Grapes of Wrath, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Matched Trilogy, The Secret Life of Bees, The Kite Runner, Of Mice and Men, and many, many more. Instruction-based titles such as Who was Sacagawea? or Mark Twain and the River are available for incorporating into lesson plans, activities, group discussions or summer reading programs. Suggested lists are available for educators and include juvenile and young adult fiction and non-fiction titles.

I have reached out to Overdrive to comment on whether or not the Penguin books are frontlist or backlist titles, or a mixture of both. This news item will be updated when they confirm. Each book is under the one loan, one use scheme.

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Overdrive has officially suspended support for their Media Console app for Blackberry. The company confirmed that less then .3% of their users actually have a Playbook or Blackberry 10 device, not enough to warrant further support. Starting April 10th 2014, Overdrive will remove their app from Blackberry World.

If you borrow an audiobook or eBook from your local library, chances are you are dealing with Overdrive. They have the largest market share in Australia, Canada, UK and other countries. The company tends to focus the largest amount of their development effort towards iOS and Android.

Users only have a short amount of time to download the Overdrive app for Blackberry. The Good e-Reader App Store will continue to support the App, so you will be able to always download it for BB10 and the Playbook.

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If you are a regular visitor to the New York Public library to browse their selection of eBooks, you are in for a treat. There is a new discovery engine added to search that will offer algorithmic book recommendations.

The new search engine is a product of the libraries new relationship with Zola Books. Zola, is using technology from Bookish, which is a company they recently acquired. Bookish failed to get any traction in the industry, but was a pet project launched by Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Penguin. Publishers recognize there is a problem with eBook discovery and this Bookish program was thought to have solved it.

How exactly does the eBook discovery platform work? Bookish Recommends uses an algorithm that identifies recommended books based on similar characteristics. Unlike recommendations that are derived from what other readers are checking out, the Bookish engine matches users to books based on dozens of attributes and filters out irrelevant titles. Users visiting the Library’s online catalog can find recommended books by clicking on a selected title to see a set of related titles that might be of interest.

When you visit the New York Public Library site and search for a book title, there will be recommendations now on the right hand side. Not all books in the system have the expanded search feature yet, but most do.

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After the successful digital makeover to the Mewar Ramayana, the British Library plans to apply that treatment to other historical documents. It took three years for the British Library to create the digital copies of the Mewar Ramayana, considered to be one of the best illustrated manuscripts of the great Hindu epic. Marina Chellini, curator of North Indian languages at the library, said the project to digitize the Mewar Ramayana is just the beginning for the British Library.

The collections that Chellini stated they have in their possession include “manuscripts, early printed books, research level publications, prints, and drawings.”

“The Sanskrit collection is small by Indian standards, but very choiced,” said Jeremiah Losty, Asian and African Studies head. “The Buddhist Sanskrit texts from 12th century from Nepal and Eastern India, with beautiful illuminations done in the monasteries particularly stand out.” Both Losty and Chellini were in Mumbai last week to mark the completion of digitization of the Ramayana, which can now be accessed from the CSMVS and the British Library sites.

The India Office of the library also has in their possession the Razmnama, the Persian translation of the Mahabharata, another great Hindu epic.

“Many people in the 18th and 19th century, who came to India from the UK and Europe, were avid collectors of manuscripts and paintings. The majority of the Indian miniatures come from the collection of Richard Johnson, who was in India in the East India Company’s service 1770-90,” said Losty.

Other digitization projects for the British Library include the Early Bengali Book Project, in partnership with the National Library situated in Kolkata. The British Library is also slated to take up digitization work of the Adi Granth, considered the most sacred book of the Sikhs.

As for the digitization project of the Mewar Ramayana, the British Library collaborated with the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya in Mumbai, as the original manuscript was split between the two. Books two, four, five, six, and seven of the Ramayana are held by the British Library, while Book one is in the possession of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya. Book three is with the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute in Jodhpur. Unfortunately, the only part left of Book five is an album of eighteen paintings.

via TOI

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Self-publishing used to be the option of last resort for frustrated authors, but more and more authors are abandoning the frustrations of the traditional publishing industry in favor of the immediacy and creative control of self-publishing. Now that self-publishing and digital publishing have garnered some long overdue respect in the publishing industry, one of the last hurdles for indie authors is getting their content into libraries.

FastPencil and Recorded Books have just signed a landmark distribution agreement that will put self-publishers books in the library. FastPencil’s powerful technology provides libraries with an end-to-end publishing network that helps authors write, manage, convert and distribute books and eBooks. With access to robust management capabilities, libraries can also ingest, store and post library content to patrons.

“This unique service is a game-changer in the publishing and library industry,” said Rich Freese, Recorded Books president and CEO. “FastPencil for Libraries removes the hurdles that inherently come with traditional book publishing, making it possible for authors to collaborate with their local library to write and prepare their own books for publication.”

Recorded Books will Market this new program as “FastPencil for Libraries.” It is not clear right now if this new program will be just for eBooks or just print books, or a combination of both. We have reached out to both companies for a response.

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In a victory for education across language barriers and distance, Amazon and the Brazilian Ministry of Education announced today that the Whispercast technology that makes ebooks magically appear on consumers’ devices will now deliver textbooks to hundreds of thousands of teachers across Brazil. Due in part to the efforts of the National Fund for Educational Development (FNDE), this partnership will bring a catalog of more than 200 different titles to the 600,000 government distributed teacher tablets in the country.

“We are pleased that Whispercast is one of the foundation technologies for this innovative program. Amazon working with FNDE enhanced Whispercast, which has been used by thousands of schools in the U.S., to meet the needs of the teachers and administrators in Brazil. We are very enthusiastic in helping to bring new technologies that will help the education segment in Brazil,” said Alex Szapiro, Country Manager, Amazon.com.br. “We hope to work with FNDE on the rollout to reach students and teachers in all grades with the goal of improving education in Brazil.”

According to a statement on the partnership, “Teachers using the free Kindle Reading App are able to read, highlight, make notes and reference the dictionary directly in the textbooks, even when the tablets are not connected to the Internet. To date, more than 40M eTextbooks have been delivered.”

All-digital classrooms have been slow to become a reality all over the world, but initiatives such as the FNDE and programs that are aimed at distributing cost-effective tablets instead of quickly obsolete and highly damage-susceptible print editions are making the digital classroom an even more likely reality.