Libraries have come a long way from the days of Alexandria. Once essentially no more than a museum of great works, libraries in the 21st century have had to reinvent themselves as a community-based center of learning and production, not just a place to put your name on the list for the latest James Patterson hardcover. With everything from technology centers, MOOC learning courses, 3D printers and maker labs, and more, libraries are shifting their roles in order to keep up with a changing patronage.
Part of that shift includes a wider adoption of digital content, and not just through the industry mainstays like OverDrive or 3M. New opportunities through periodical platforms like Next Issue, PressReader, and Zinio, as well as ebook catalogs through Freading, Boopsie, and Smashwords’ unprecedented distribution agreement with OverDrive have meant that not only do libraries have options for providing relevant formats to their patrons, but they also have competitive choices that can lead to better budget options.
In an article for The-Dispatch.com, one library explained the options to patrons thanks to increased access to affordable digital content.
“I found that in comparing some of the titles from the independent publishers were offered in the library’s NC Digital Library, several had waiting lists, and were also in Freading where they could be checked out with no delay,” said Library Director Ruth Ann Copley. “With Freading, patrons will never find an ebook in use and unavailable.
“We certainly need and want to continue to invest and participate in the NC Digital Library consortium where our patrons have access to so many best-sellers and popular titles in ebooks and audiobooks from those ‘Big Five Publishers’ and their subsidiaries as well as other publishers. Not only have we invested in content in this consortium since 2005, but we have benefited from the continued investment and continued growth of the collection thanks to ongoing contributions of the 19 other member library systems. Freading is a means of enhancing our readers’ borrowing powers and giving them additional options.”
This growth has resulted in an era when 95% of public libraries offer ebook checkouts, and 66% of school libraries offer digital circulation.