Sunday, February 13, 2011

Librarians & ebooks... some concerns

There have been 20 comments (so far) on Laura Ruby’s post It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel…? One comment that caught the attention of e is for book bloggers came from a librarian, Ms. Yingling:

“My question is this: if students start using e-readers and e-books, how are librarians going to serve as readers’ advisors? It’s a huge part of my job, and I’m having trouble getting my mind around not handing children actual books!”

Comments and questions came quickly from our authors:

“Ms. Yingling, I wonder why it would be different to advise on a title that's being read electronically? Are you talking about something technical like page numbering?”
Mo Manning

“Ms Yingling- Perhaps librarians might think about ‘advising’ and suggesting books through their own library BLOG or Facebook page. If you can't beat ‘em—join ‘em. It may even be a good way for these e-book lovers to discuss books online and maybe even have the kids review them. You will become a famous cool ONLINE Librarian.”

Maryann Cocca-Leffler

“Ms. Yingling, In my opinion, librarians like you are going to become even more important in this age of the digital book. Just as the challenge for authors and illustrators will be to ‘get found’ in the potential sea of apps and ebooks, it will be just as important for readers to ‘find’ good books. Reviewers, hand sellers, and librarians will become key in wading through all the options and picking out the best choices. You may not be holding an actual book in your hands when you recommend it, but for that reason, your recommendation will be more valuable than ever. My 2 cents, e.”
Elizabeth O. Dulemba

“I agree with Elizabeth: your recommendation will be more valuable than ever!

I just read on the YALSA blog about a YA librarian who caved and got herself a Kindle after her library started lending Kindles to students (who were enthusiastic about them). She was able to get net galleys—online galleys—of new books easily this way. She was also able to carry around a large number of books loaded on the device.”

Laura Ruby

As you can see, authors are very interested in what librarians have to say. So, I sent Ms. Yingling this email:

“Thank you for your comment on E is for Book, we love to hear from librarians. Just wondering if you had any further clarification such as is it more difficult to browse and become familiar with ebooks, or show them to students, are there too many different devices, or…? We’re interested in your insight. : ) ”

As it turns out, Karen Yingling does have a blog: Ms. Yingling Reads, with a focus on “books for middle school students, especially boys,” with middle grade and some YA fiction reviews.


  1. I was thinking about the loss of physical book browsing if things all went digital. I personally like to be able to casually browse books on shelves and find things I might not otherwise come across. And then I thought... wouldn't it be good if libraries still held physical paper copies of books for those who prefer to loan them, but inside or on the cover could be a code that could be scanned to add the ebook version to an ereader for those who want to borrow it that way? The duration of the download could expire after a set period, like returning the borrowed book.
    That might be a way to give ebooks more of a physical presence, if a paper version was still there to look at. With POD, it is possible to do that without the expense of printing huge stockpiles.

    Just me thinking aloud.

  2. I do not believe we are going to go to all digital books anytime soon. I believe ebook readers are excellent addition to schools. They are one more way to entice reluctant readers to read. The cost of ebook readers, plus the cost of adding books to the readers is more than most schools can afford at this point. I've thought about writing a grant to get a few ebook readers in my classroom. The readers would NOT replace my reading center full of books. Why can't we have both?

  3. Ms. Yingling mentions Follett Ebooks as a source for educational ebooks for K-12. Is there a broader resource where a conglomeration of learning ebooks are listed in one place?

    Interesting points Ms. Yingling makes regarding how the obsolescence of tech devices becomes a hindrance to investment. Thank you.

  4. Does any one no how it works with the libraries that are starting to carry ebooks to loan out? Do they buy one copy that can then be lent to multiple people at a time, or do you need one ebook per customer per time? Just curious...

  5. Ellen, I would be interested to hear what educational ebook source teachers/librarians actually use. One distributor is There are some children's books in PDF form on there, e.g. do a search on "Vacation's Over" by Joe Kulka. Once you find a book, you can go to an online bookstore to buy it or look for a library that has it. I really haven't investigated OverDrive, it looks interesting!

    Emilie, I've heard a couple of different scenarios for library loans of ebooks. For example, some libraries are buying a bunch of Kindles, buying Kindle books for them, then lending out the pre-loaded Kindles.

    I just was looking at Follett’s info about their ebooks, and their system is set up to allow one patron per ebook at a time. If you do a search on “circulating follett ebooks” the link to the PDF should come up.

    In general, ebooks in libraries are set up to work the same way as physical books... if they want to lend out 20, they have to buy 20 copies (unless a publisher allows them to load an ebook on more than one device.)

  6. I've been using Overdrive through two public libraries to listen to audiobooks for several years now. I've never downloaded a PDF / e-book from them, but if it works the same as their audiobooks: they have a fixed number of "copies" that can be checked out at one time. There are wait lists (usually takes a week or more) for more popular titles depending on that format you wish to borrow. There are time limits - 7 or 14 day loans - they have digital media rights embedded into the files and they do expire (and thus you go to open your ebook/audiobook one day and realize you've run out of time). Not a problem for purchases of ebooks... or real books.

    One thought I've had with all the electronic/tech push toward e-books: as Ms. Yingling says, most books I purchase will be around until I die and even longer. If I buy an e-book in any format, when my computer dies, when my "device" crashes, unless I've been really good about backing up all those ebook files, I lose that purchase, don't I? (Our sons have lost iTunes purchases because of that.)

    Plus, if I purchase a real book and decide I don't like it 100 pages in, or decide I no longer wish to own my copy, I can re-sell it in various ways. I doubt it's possible to re-sell an ebook.

    I'm fairly tech-savvy, but I'd still rather have a real book in my hands, to hold, to flip through to see how far it is until the next break or chapter.

  7. Hi Loreen,
    I've used Overdrive to download audiobooks (same as last commenter) but not for ebooks. I checked out the site and cannot find a search function for Joe's ebook -- my first observation is that content (in this case, ebook choice) needs to be obviously available and accessible. Was not for me - am I missing something?

    Also - what I was really referring to was a store or directory for educational that lists the sources for purchase - an overview.
    (Can you tell me where you found a search for book on Overdrive?)

  8. @Ellen, it's not very obvious but on the first page you click on the lower left where it says "Find libraries and booksellers with eBooks, audiobooks & more" then the Search page opens up and you enter keyword, title, author, or ISBN in the box. (They need to put a big SEARCH button on the first page.)

    Anyway, here it is: OverDrive Search
    Here is the link spelled out:

  9. @Ellen "...what I was really referring to was a store or directory for educational that lists the sources for purchase..."

    If you mean a site that lists links to edu ebooks, I don't know of one but there could be some that charge a listing fee or the site could run ads, I guess. Maybe there's a business opportunity for someone.

    Nor do I know of an open-to-everyone for-profit ebook marketplace just for educational titles... again there may be one we just haven't heard of yet.

    In general, edu ebooks titles are just mixed in with everything else on the various ebookstores. If anyone has more info, please let us know.

  10. This site has educational and workbook type books:

    The samples I looked at are PDFs.

  11. I've been using Overdrive via our local public library consortium, downloading both audiobooks and ebooks and I have a huge complaint: inability to "return" (terminate download early) means a constricted supply in the face of growing demand. I'm a fast reader and I just downloaded the maximum 4 items. I have them for 2 weeks. I'll probably finish them in 5 days but they'll all be unavailable to the next person in the queue until 2 weeks are up. If I download something and realize 3 pages into it that I don't like it, it will stay "out" for 2 weeks. It's my biggest complaint - far ahead of the wimpy search capability - and it's one cause of the low supply problem. Sometimes I check Overdrive and there are 20 available titles, a mix of adult and juvenile. Sheesh. PS, I am huge fan, personally and professionally, of you lot (can't keep 3 copies of Wall and the Wing on the shelf; have loved all of your books, Loreen, since I first saw 2x2=Boo).

  12. Melissa, the inability to "return" a downloaded library ebook early sounds like a big problem for sure. Maybe the ALA needs to work with OverDrive on that one. Or somebody needs to write an op-ed.

    Thanks so much for your kind words about 2 X 2=BOO!