Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ottawa Libraries Make E-books Available

According to the CBC the Ottawa library is about to start e-books to borrowers.
The books include fiction and non-fiction for all ages and take the form electronic documents, (mostly .pdfs) that can be downloaded to your computer from the library's website. After three weeks, the file is automatically deleted, so there is no need to return it.
Wong said that after the library began offering digital audio books, which take the form of a sound file, patrons started sending e-mails to the library asking when it would start offering e-books, like libraries in Toronto, Hamilton, Oakville and Edmonton.
Online and downloadable books are no doubt good for literacy on a number of levels - in addition to saving trees and trips in the car it makes more books available to more people regardless of where they are.
There has been some argument that this is not good for libraries. The logic goes that if people stop visiting the library as a physical location that the need for them will decline. There is probably some truth in this - some smaller branches may close. It is worth noting though that the other roles of libraries as gathering/meeting spots and as collectors of historical documents will continue and libraries should increasingly focus on these and on internet access points for travelers and low-income people.

If Libraries can have more material, available to more people at a lower cost and cities gain extra public gathering spots it is good news for everyone.

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