LIS 855: Reading Journal Week 12

Unit topic: E-Books–Audio and Text

Reading list:

  1. Thomas A. Peters “Comparison Points and Decision Points” Chapter 2 in Digital Auidobook Services through Libraries. Library Technology Reports vol 43 no 1. ALA Techsource, 2007.
  2. Think Tank on the Future of E-Books. Panel at ER&L 2008
  3. “Digital Accessibility for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals: A Panel Discussion.” Library of Congress Digital Future and Use Speaker Series (89 min).
  4. Peters, T., Bell, L., & Sussman, D. B. (July/August 2005). “An Overview of Digital Audio Books for Libraries.” Computers in Libraries, 25(7), 6-8, 61-64.

Marketing moments can be amusing.  Like on the Playaway webpage called Playaway for Libraries, touting their product’s “sleek patron-friendly orange packaging.”  Orange is key.  Orange is friendly.  It’s gotta be…orange.  Not that it’s a silly marketing move.  I mean, orange is frankly a pretty enticing color.  It’s the color of the fresh, citrus-y fruit, the availability of which suggests a certain indulgence, the privilege of importation (…and the unspoken exploitation of migrant workers…), but overall, politic0-economic tangents aside, orange is a tasty, pretty color.

Okay, I admit, that was me vamping while listening to “A Think Tank on the Future of eBooks” and waiting for something to comment on.  It’s a pretty darn good panel so far–the panelists all are pretty savvy (two from the University of Tennessee system and one from Chapman University in California) and have a good sense of humor, and they’re bringing up lots of good issues.  They’re mainly talking about text eBooks, not audio, and obviously their comments have a lot to do with academic libraries.  Some take-home points and my reactions:

– Space can really be a factor in considering a move towards incorporating more eBooks into a collection. [Having now worked in some crowded libraries, yep I can see that.  However, I would approach eBook collecting less as an “okay now we’re just gonna collect primarily electronically” thing but as a considered way of helping out the space management issues, really thinking about what would be most useful (both space and usage-wise) in electronic format and what would be very counterproductive in that format.]

– Is it more useful to have certain genres as eBooks rather than others?  For example, would it be more useful to academic library patrons to acquire reference books rather than novels as eBooks? [Seems to me like reference books would be more valuable in eBook format than other kinds of books.  Reference books cost a lot in each edition, are unwieldy because they’re so big, and students usually need to consult only one very small bit in it.  I find that I use reference eBooks way more than I use any other kind of book.  In fact, when something is not a reference book and I find that it exists in the UW-Madison collection only as an eBook, I get kind of annoyed!]

– MARC records are crucial!  As librarians, we want our eBooks to come with MARC records! [Dissenting voice during the Q&A commented that he would not consider the inclusion of LCSH that important for the MARC records, partly because the eBook publishers may not have much staff time to spend on assigning good LCSH, but also because he thought LCSH was on its way out! Not sure I agree with him. He argued that nobody but librarians used LCSH any more, but I disagree for all kinds of things. As research gets more advanced, you know more precisely what you want/need, and LCSH can really help there. This can be very true in music, where books and scores can be terrible at identifying their formats, content, and audience and the subject headings can be very helpful.]

– The value of full-text searching with eBooks.  [Included some talk about linking to Google Books?  Not sure what exactly was being suggested there, practically speaking.]

– eBooks can be extremely valuable for distance education. Can be important to show for accreditation purposes that you are able to support distance ed. [Yep, seems like increasingly the “hey, this is good for distance ed” argument becomes the surprise ace in your pocket when making an argument for e-resources.]

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