At ALA Midwinter, Brewster Kahle, Librarians Ponder the E-Book Future and Digital Book World got into the mix with their article, Where do Libraries and eBooks meet?
When you think about it, it's amazing how eBooks hold many challenges and opportunities for libraries, but as Internet Archive founder and digital librarian Brewster Kahle said at ALA, “The e-book thing isn’t happening...it has happened.” This means libraries must devise ways of distributing them and fairly quickly.
Fortunately, libraries are making it easier and easier to get a hold of their vast collections for you to enjoy on your e-reader and it's important that libraries not give up their traditional roles. After all, it's what libraries do--they buy books and they lend them out. However with the rise of Google scanning collections and the desire to sell back to libraries, Kahle stressed the importance of not letting the promise of licensed access turn libraries into agents for a few major corporations.
Instead, it's imperative that libraries license a book and a patron comes in and downloads that book for a set circulation period. When the period is over, the file is no longer accessible. Readers who want to read a popular book get into a queue and wait until the previous patron's checkout time has finished.
Many libraries are using Overdrive, the global distributor of ebooks and audiobooks to libraries that support their system. Visit their website and you can see which books are available in your region and you can locate the nearest libraries and view what they have to offer.
Kahle is absolutely right--the eBook revolution has arrived and it's great to see libraries embracing the new technology. However, although most publishers have made ebooks available to libraries, some have not. We can only hope that with the news of eBook checkouts at libraries up 200 percent, the relationship between libraries and eBooks will only continue to rise.