×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Public Library Exclusively For Digital Media Proposed

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the don't-copy-that-book dept.

Books 90

CowboyRobot writes "In San Antonio, a judge and a precinct commissioner are proposing (PDF) a plan to create a library called BiblioTech that offers electronic media exclusively, offering patrons only e-readers and digital materials. 'BiblioTech intends to start with 100 e-readers that can be loaned out, 50 pre-loaded e-readers for children, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets, with additional accommodations planned for the visually impaired.' But the economics have yet to be ironed out. 'A typical library branch might circulate 10,000 titles a month... To do that electronically would be cost-prohibitive — most libraries can't afford to supply that many patrons with e-reading devices at one time. And expecting library visitors to bring their own devices may be expecting too much.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

how many people can't afford a kindle? (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42602991)

i only ask because i ride the train with people less well off than me and i see them with iphones and all other kinds of toys

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603091)

It's worth about a few weeks of cigarettes or a few cases of beer.

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (4, Interesting)

khb (266593) | about 2 years ago | (#42603105)

Probably a lot of people can't. However, it seems rather daft to me to go "paperless" for libraries. My local library system has a fairly extensive ebook collection, has experimented with loaning readers (albeit only for the toddler set) and still has a large supply of traditional paper.

Adding ebook titles as funding permits, and perhaps having a "nook corner" for borrowing kindles, nook or whatever (perhaps corporate sponsored, a chance for them to get demo units in the hands of the public who might not be early adopters ;>) seems to me to a much sounder strategy especially given the DRM and relatively high costs of ebooks (artificially so) to libraries.

Also, as much as an Apple store is a wonderful design for *selling* things, it's far from clear to me that it's really a good environment for the things we have come to expect from libraries (children's reading circles? book clubs? study areas??). Indeed, it's the polar opposite of what I expect from a library.

And yes, I have iDevices aplenty, as well as a BN Nook, and a large room full of books and more in boxes. So I'm neither a luddite nor such a techophile that I can't appreciate the worth of a well bound dead tree.

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

kervin (64171) | about 2 years ago | (#42603183)

How do you know they're less well-off than you?

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42603309)

because the real estate prices are a lot less past my train stop. and i live close to one of the best elementary schools in NYC. the schools past my are mostly crap until you get to another district

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

bjwest (14070) | about 2 years ago | (#42619141)

because the real estate prices are a lot less past my train stop

Yes, everyone on the planet spends as much as they can afford on their house and upgrades with every raise/job change.

Not to insult, but you sound a bit snobbish to me.

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603347)

i only ask because i ride the train with people less well off than me and i see them with iphones and all other kinds of toys

A phone is a much more important and versatile item than a Kindle. Many people may not read *enough* to make the expense of an e-reader worth the purchase to them.

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (3, Insightful)

ukemike (956477) | about 2 years ago | (#42603517)

A better question might be, "How many people aren't interested in using any e-reader?"

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#42603535)

i only ask because i ride the train with people less well off than me and i see them with iphones and all other kinds of toys

The target audience of libraries...

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42604877)

at least as many as people who can't afford books?

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

bitingduck (810730) | about 2 years ago | (#42604943)

A smart phone can work just fine as an e-reader, and you can read stuff from any of the stores on them using free apps. Overdrive (the main library software and ebook provider) also has an app that runs on iOS and Android that's free.

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#42605285)

i ride the train with people less well off than me and i see them with iphones and all other kinds of toys

Have you seen all those articles where folks complain about not being able to lock or track stolen iPhones . . . ? There you are.

Maybe Sprint needs to redirect their GPS tracker from that guy's house in Arizona to your train?

And Kindles do not have the same bling for poor folks, as iPhones. It's more of a pity that a lot of folks just aren't interested in reading at all. Watching stuff on YouTube is easier.

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

kimgkimg (957949) | about 2 years ago | (#42606527)

Well you need to factor in getting to and from the library and what that costs vs. just being able to download something off of Amazon's whispernet without having to go anywhere and spend time going somewhere. Seems like a few dozen trips to the library at the gas prices these days would more than offset the price of a low-end Kindle (which I've seen for as low as $50.)

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42606605)

i only ask because i ride the train with people less well off than me and i see them with iphones and all other kinds of toys

How could you possibly know how well off a stranger on the train is? I know people personally who can't afford a kindle, and know a lot more who don't WANT a kindle. Why should I be required to spend money to read?

I've been using public libraries for fifty years and the only time it ever cost anything was when I didn't get the book back in time.

Why should I need a device to read, when I've been doing it without a device for half a century?

(mcgrew here, left my password at home)

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#42613211)

Why should I be required to spend money to read?

Why should I be required to spend money to play video games?

Why should I be required to spend money to have a fancy dinner?

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about 2 years ago | (#42609399)

They're probably into selling Illegal things, It's all the rage now. I don't sell anything Illegal and I still don't own a Cellphone, tablet, whatever gadget. But that's OK see, because I don't really have a need for those things. All the people I use to know have moved on with their life, I live in a new town and It's difficult trying to make friends when you know nobody and everybody is anti-social.

Kindle? I can read just fine here at the PC, or one of numerous books at the Library. Yes, I guess you can just call me Old Fashioned at age 30 something. Is my brother Old Fashioned also for liking Black and white programs like 'Gunsmoke' at age 20?. Contrary to popular belief, not all young people are into this Technology craze and some of us are smart enough to figure out the consequences of becoming reliant on these Modern Marvels of technology.

When something bad happens, and one day it will, guaranteed; what will you do with out your GPS when a Flare knocks out the Sat for two months?. What will you do if another Great Depression hits and forces you to stand at breadlines with a useless device nobody wants to buy because they can't afford the service?. And NO, it's not a Depression (like now) if people are still buying iPhones and things they don't need. There is a difference between a Need and a Want.

It's best for you
To use common sense
When Technology is down
You'll wear a frown
Burma Shave!

Re:how many people can't afford a kindle? (1)

jonadab (583620) | about 2 years ago | (#42619859)

That's actually not the problem.

The problem is that almost all currently available ebooks have DRM that ties them to one account and a small number of reader devices, in clear violation of the First Sale principle but backed by the anti-circumvention wording in the DMCA.

Currently the only way libraries can lend (non-free) ebooks _without_ lending the reader is through a contract with a company called Overdrive (who in turn have some kind of deal with the publishers). The way the Overdrive setup works has so many drawbacks and problems I won't even try to start listing them, but I'll summarize: it appears to have been deliberately set up so that library ebook lending will certainly fail to ever catch on in any significant way.

There have been rumors that at some point there may be a competitor to Overdrive, but I've yet to see anything concrete, and even if there were a competitor they'd still be bound by all same bizarre limitations the publishers have put in place. Competition in this market might improve some superficial aspects of the experience (e.g., the difficult-to-navigate Overdrive website), but the basic nature of the deal would be unchanged.

Public Exclusively Library? (5, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#42603025)

One of us must be drunk.

Re:Public Exclusively Library? (2)

Azure Flash (2440904) | about 2 years ago | (#42603289)

I think they mean that it's exclusive to the public, as in, the library is restricted to everyone only.

Personally, I'm against such arbitrary and strict restrictions to access data.

Re:Public Exclusively Library? (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | about 2 years ago | (#42603315)

I am so relieved that wasn't just me. If my brain were a punch card reader, it would have jammed on that one. (Where's my lighter? ... Smooth!)

That title made my eyes bleed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603045)

Seriously...

Kindles are crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603077)

I keep waiting for another company to produce a better e-Book. Apparently they are, like Amazon, staffed by bozos.
This is why Apple kicks a$$.

Re:Kindles are crap (1)

pipatron (966506) | about 2 years ago | (#42603131)

There are better ones. Check out the Kobo Glo for one example.

Re:Kindles are crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42604129)

That looks remarkably like the Kindle Paperwhite.

What specifically about it is better?

Re:Kindles are crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603571)

It'd be nice if you expanded on this a bit. I own both an iPad and a Kindle (early eInk type, not the Fire line of Kindles) and for what the Kindle was built to do it's a fine device. But in the same sense the iPad is a better device because it's not as limited as the Kindle. The price point alone makes that clear.
 
I'd recommend either one if the user understands the pros and cons of each device.

Welcome to Slashdot! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603081)

Where the editors don't even proof-read the headlines!

too much to expect? (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 2 years ago | (#42603123)

Many people have their own phone, tablet, and/or e-reader. They should expect most who are interested in a digital library to have their own devices. Having a few for those who don't own one is an extra service. A cheap e-reader is under $50. That's the cost of a few paperbacks. Less than a typical text book.

Re:too much to expect? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42603555)

Its attitude. Where I live in order of cash:
1) Fancy expensive private after school activities / clubs / daycare
2) Parks and Rec dept after school activities / clubs fairly cheap
3) Library activities after school absolutely free. You can get banned from the library for being disruptive
4) Go hang out downtown and stay out of trouble (basically free and until you're on parole no one can kick you off the streets)

So from a after school kid perspective we're talking about people who won't spend $15 for their kid to go to a parks and rec activity for a month. Somehow they always afford $35 cartons of cigs, iphones, malt liquor, but their kids aren't even worth $15 to them... or the parks and rec kicked them out for disruptive behavior, gang activity, etc. Either way the local library seems to be positioning itself away from "thats where the nerds go to read books" and more toward being daycare for one small social strata just above the level of the ghetto.

I would expect "masters in library arts" programs to start resembling the existing "early childhood education" classes more than their traditional research oriented curricula. Which is too bad, because we've already got a glut of ECE grads unemployed or making minimum wage, so adding more competition isn't all that great of an idea.

this is a utterly stupid idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603147)

...which will only take money from **REAL** libraries

content content content (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603151)

they should worry less about devices and more about actual content and ease of use. I have tried using my library's current digital offerings and what is available (not much) it stupid hard to get.

maybe their times have passed? (0)

terec (2797475) | about 2 years ago | (#42603171)

Public libraries were one of the great achievements of Western civilization. However, it seems to me their time has passed. Classic books are available freely anything, and for books still in copyright, a variety of online "for profit" lending options make more sense than somehow tying reading to a physical building. Book rentals generally are cheaper than a milkshake at McDonalds, and healthier too.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (4, Insightful)

mcspoo (933106) | about 2 years ago | (#42603265)

Haven't been to a public library lately, have you?

Libraries have moved FAR FAR beyond the staid old stereotype of "shh"ing school marms in reading glasses. I have worked in Libraries for over 20 years now, and I can tell you that we are busier now than we have EVER been. eBooks haven't been a negative to us, but the treatment of libraries by publishers has been a negative to ebook users. I'm really happy that someone is looking as far forward as this article, but I'd love to know more about how they expect it to work.

and negative viewpoints yours are normally the result of someone who hasn't used their public library in a long time. You can either ask Google and get a thousand answers, or you can ask a Librarian and get the right answer.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603617)

Seriously, though, suggest you write something showing how libraries are relevant to the slashtard crowd and writing an inflamatory headline so Taco will post it as a dupe.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42605035)

They kicked Taco out, dude. He's now wasting time at the Washington Post or something.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42605393)

They kicked Taco out, dude. He's now wasting time at the Washington Post or something.

Delivering papers in mom's station wagon != working at the Washington Post.


You've been Bazinga'd, Taco.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1, Interesting)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#42604797)

Well, I have been to the public library lately... and generally, they don't have the books that I want. Their fiction section is okay, but small. Generally, when I'm looking for something specific, unless it's by a major author or won an award, they don't have it. Their nonfiction, though... if you want something that's truly in-depth on anything, most likely they won't have it. Sometimes there are gems there, though, so I still look. However, I find I do most of my borrowing from the local University library. I pay $50 a year for the privilege, but I don't mind that, since they have a much, much better selection of books.

And... ask a librarian instead of Google? Sure. Let's look at the questions I've had that I've searched Google for answers on lately, according to my browser histories. (Reformatted as actual questions, instead of just a list of key terms.)

How much does PVC electrical conduit cost?

What is the history of mail order shopping before the Internet?

Why do LEDs appear to flicker on video?

Who are well-reviewed roofers in ?

What year was Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions" published?

Does chlorophyll include any metallic elements?

What are Florida's statutes on firearms?

What are some examples of good-looking lightsaber props people have made from plumbing supplies, and what parts did they use?

What's the supplied voltage of an NiMH AAA battery?

What are the dates for GenCon and DragonCon this year?

What are the laws in the various states of the US with regard to slower traffic having to move aside for faster traffic?

How do I get a list of all tables that aren't views in a MySQL database?

What are the rules for lightsaber dueling in lightsaber clubs?

Most of these, I got the right answers for by searching Google, then clicking one link. Sometimes I didn't even have to click a link - the answer was in the sample text being shown from the page. A few of them, I had to click multiple links for - but in some cases, that was because I wanted to see multiple answers (e.g., the roofers and the lightsaber props). Two of them, I wasn't able to find good answers for in the time I wanted to take - searching for the history of mail-order shopping before the Internet gave me lots of brief one-or-two paragraph summaries, and a few in-depth pieces about the beginnings of mail-order shopping back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but neither of those was what I wanted. Searching for rules for lightsaber dueling gave me a lot about fictional lightsaber dueling, but I only found a couple of threads from forums about clubs doing it and their rules, and neither of those was very helpful.

So... two cases where a librarian might have been more helpful than Google, but it's doubtful in both of those cases. For the rest, it would have taken longer for me to get ahold of a librarian and ask the question than it took me to find the correct answer via Google.

Honestly, the only time a librarian has ever successfully helped me find anything, it was by letting me go back into the area where they had books that had been turned in, but not yet put on the shelves. And before they'd let me back there, I had to physically prove to them that the book in question wasn't on the shelf, and that the online catalog said that it had been turned in by someone that day.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

mcspoo (933106) | about 2 years ago | (#42607301)

Cool. you have digital literacy.

Many people do not. Many people do not possess your skill set for finding relevant information using Google. You'd be amazed the number of people who can't tell the difference between a real information, and Wikipedia spam.

Librarians are TRAINED to find this information. Your questions ARE the type of questions we deal with every day. We do this for the people who don't have your level of digital and informational literacy. And when you're stuck? (if that ever happens?) Come to the Library. We'll help you too ;)

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42607473)

Give me an example of a question that you could easily find in a library that you couldn't easily find on the Internet.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#42609393)

Part of me says that everyone should have or be able to develop that level of digital literacy... but then, experience shows that too, too many don't.

So, yeah. I can see where librarians are useful, and I support libraries. It still just constantly amazes me, though, how many people can't tell good information from bad, even when it seems obvious to me. But then I go read Snopes for a while, and remind myself that people have believed much, much less plausible things. :-)

On the information-finding side, I'd make a great librarian. On the dealing with people side, not so much. I can see you're good at both, and hope your employers recognize it!

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42607449)

Here's a question that a librarian answered for me that Google never could:

What's a reliable, accurate source of medical information?

Re:maybe their times have passed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42609793)

And your librarian is qualified to answer that question... why? You know whether their answer is correct and up to date... how?

Sorry, but Google would be a better and more reliable source for that information as well.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

gregor-e (136142) | about 2 years ago | (#42605153)

Sadly, almost all the titles I've checked out over the past decade have been digital, from the comfort of my PC. (Audiobooks are awesome for long commutes on public transit). The past two times I went into the physical library building, I found it was largely populated by vagrants who were using the free internet terminals to view porn as they avoided the cold outside. Heck, I even took the elevator to the third floor in hopes of using a rest room less trafficked by said vagrants, and came upon one old fellow giving himself a paper-towel bath. Perhaps this is only a problem of large urban libraries.

Libraries were founded in the day when books were precious and expensive treasures. Now, there's hardly a used bookstore that doesn't have a "free" bin. People aren't reading dead-tree books as much nowadays, and those who do generally have no problem purchasing them or sharing books with friends or finding something to read at free book swaps. For expensive texts, a digital lending library makes more sense, since digital texts are searchable, and they don't have to be returned to the library when the checkout term expires.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 2 years ago | (#42605411)

As someone who has pretty used my local library at least once a week since I've been able to walk to the library, I'll tell you that I'm pretty fed up with libraries wasting money on eBooks, which expire after (a relatively low) N of loans vs. buying physical copies of a book that (with rebinding - remember that process?) can be lent to readers dozens of times. This is, of course, after the institutions spend most of the money on CD's and DVD's, which also have a much shorter lifespan than books.

I love libraries. I've never voted against a library levy and I believe that they are a vital part of any functioning community. It's just that books are a much more cost-effective purchase than other things bought by libraries and it irks me to watch every year as physical books seem to be downgraded to optional purchases and money is spent on alternate media forms that will degrade much more quickly.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42607647)

The New York Public Library made a big move to the "digital library". It made a lot of things worse. There are works that I used to get on paper that I can't get any more in any format.

I like modern improvements, but it's a warning not to throw out the old system before the new system is working.

One of the problems is with medical journals. Medical journals set their subscription prices to libraries based on the number of patrons. So a university with 10,000 students pays more than a college with 1,000 students. The paper editions are fairly expensive, but the online editions are really expensive.

That means the library can't buy standard medical journals in digital editions. A librarian told me that they can't afford the New England Journal of Medicine, particularly the online edition, because the journal calculates the entire population of New York as their patrons. And now there's lots of important information for each article that is online-only. Last time I looked in the catalog, I could only find two subscriptions to the NEJM in the entire NYPL system.

I went to the NYPL's Science, Industry and Business Library to look something up in Science Citation Index, a useful reference book that I used to use at the NYPL when it was on paper. They didn't have it. It's too expensive.

The thing that really pisses me off is that they spent millions of dollars on luxurious buildings, with marble and Herman Miller chairs, but they didn't spend the few thousand dollars it would cost for a basic medical collection. Or the staff to keep the buildings open the same hours as book stores.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42606049)

You can either ask Google and get a thousand answers, or you can ask a Librarian and get the right answer.

Since when do librarians have all the right answers? About the most they can do is to point you to the card catalog. Or is that catalogue? You make it sound like they are all geniuses . . . (genii)?. Uhm, wait a minute . . . does that question mark go before, or after the closing parenthesis. Fuck, man!! Where's a librarian when you need one?!? Oh, yeah, there/their/they're like a 40 minute round-trip away. Oh well. I guess I'll just Google it. Geez, I hope oxforddictionaries.com isn't an irr^H^Hdisreputable source of information.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

terec (2797475) | about 2 years ago | (#42609765)

and negative viewpoints yours are normally the result of someone who hasn't used their public library in a long time.

Actually, I use public and university libraries regularly, but much less than I did a decade ago. They are physically inconvenient to get to for me, they usually don't have the books I need, and their eBook offerings are inconvenient and very limited. Many of the books that I used to go to libraries for, "the classics", are available for free now. Most of the usage I get out of the library these days is inter-library loans for old reference works that are hard to get, but I could do that by mail myself (the library is effectively just a maildrop). My impression from visiting US public libraries is that they offer a bit more e-books but otherwise aren't all that different.

I have worked in Libraries for over 20 years now, and I can tell you that we are busier now than we have EVER been.

That may be, but library usage overall is declining. People like me, who used to spend a lot of time in libraries, now only go occasionally. Many students never go to the library at all. Instead of waving your hands about how busy you are and insinuating that everybody who questions you must be illiterate, I think you need to explain better what it is that keeps you busy and what function it serves in the community.

Just to put this into perspective: US public libraries spent more than 10 billion dollars in 2009. That's enough money to give every US household an E-reader, free access to all the classic books, and a good selection of paid books every year.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42603389)

somehow tying reading to a physical building.

Fundamentally, the correct way to distribute lots of important files, is a large, heavily geographically distributed vaguely according to population, ultra heavily redundant content distribution network, right?

And coincidentally there is some value in having a building providing wifi access to this CDN, tables, chairs, lights, baby sitters (only halfway kidding) etc for the patrons to access this super-duper-cultural-CDN?

And coincidentally we already have these buildings sitting around waiting for the CDN to drop their racks and wifi WAPs into?

I've noticed a fixation on e-book and e-reader and e-library discussion revolving solely around the end user reading device... forgetting those hand held devices are pretty useless without the rest of the system, which boils down to a library without many bookshelves and a mini-datacenter, which seems to be the trend in libraries recently anyway WRT having public access internet and coffee bars and meeting rooms and such.

I'd be much more interested in a public library supported local mirror in every library of project gutenberg, archive.org, and related efforts than "me-too end user device #1513516246" trying to do exactly the same thing as "me-too end user device #1513516245" but now with more, better PR.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

macemoneta (154740) | about 2 years ago | (#42603829)

Public libraries were one of the great achievements of Western civilization. However, it seems to me their time has passed. Classic books are available freely anything, and for books still in copyright, a variety of online "for profit" lending options make more sense than somehow tying reading to a physical building. Book rentals generally are cheaper than a milkshake at McDonalds, and healthier too.

You sound like you haven't been to the library in a long while. I get all my TV and movie DVDs from the library. All my e-books (which I can check-out online from home via the web). All my CDs. And free WiFi when I'm onsite. Why are you paying for free stuff?

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

terec (2797475) | about 2 years ago | (#42609403)

You sound like you haven't been to the library in a long while. I get all my TV and movie DVDs from the library. All my e-books (which I can check-out online from home via the web). All my CDs. And free WiFi when I'm onsite. Why are you paying for free stuff?

Why haven't I "been there"? Because the selection is poor and access is inconvenient and costly (once you take time and transportation into account).

And it's not "free stuff", tax payers pay for it.

Re:maybe their times have passed? (1)

Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) | about 2 years ago | (#42604265)

Public libraries were one of the great achievements of Western civilization. However, it seems to me their time has passed. Classic books are available freely anything, and for books still in copyright, a variety of online "for profit" lending options make more sense than somehow tying reading to a physical building.

I think that the physical building is maybe the most important part of the modern public library. In many cities there is nowhere that you can go and sit down and do some work or read or whatever without having to buy something. If it's nice out then you can sit in a park or something, but here in Chicago it is nice out a vanishingly small amount of the time. In my 20s had roommates, no space to myself, and no cash to waste on lattes. The local library not only gave me an education through the books on the shelves, but also gave me a chance to sit down and get some working and thinking done in a space in which I wasn't going to be bothered by anyone. Without the library I wouldn't have been able to do that. Even now that I'm 41 and have more space to myself I still spend a fair amount of time working at the library. It's a place to sit and focus and be serious.

And yes, some public libraries end up functioning as de facto homeless shelters. But very few are only this.

I agree with you on a certain level, that we will someday soon move past the point at which tying book lending to a physical building is no longer necessary. But we need some sort of place in meatspace for people to go and do work. Right now that space is the public library. In the current climate or privatizing everything I can't imagine an open and free public space growing up to replace it. So we need to hold on to the libraries we have for as long as possible.

Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (4, Informative)

mcspoo (933106) | about 2 years ago | (#42603195)

The big issues involve licensing for eBooks and the fact that publishers seem to engage in punitive pricing with Libraries. Example: One publisher declares that an ebook can only be checked out 27 times, then the license for that expires. Multiple publishers REFUSE to sell ebooks for Library use. Libraries are treated like pirates by many publishers.

Now, different companies are trying different models. Kansas libraries spearheaded a massive campaign to control their own ebooks licensing, and they succeeded with an unprecedented project of contacting hundreds of Publishers and finagling acceptable licenses for public usage. Will the San Antonio folks be doing this? Do they expect 3M, Sirsi, or Polaris to do this?

A tertiary issue is the license themselves. Typically in libraries, you cannot use a library owned computer to capture or transfer the license to an ereader device. This is because in the case of "USB required devices or items", the license exists on the COMPUTER itself. Downloading a license to a public computer currently violates all applicable copyright law for ebooks/eaudio materials because it makes the license available to all (or the license is lost when a computer reboots and doesn't save anything at all between sessions.)

Intriguing idea, but the article doesn't include any comprehension of the issues involved in this. Just because it sounds "cool", doesn't mean it's doable.

Re:Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#42603927)

The big issues involve licensing for eBooks and the fact that publishers seem to engage in punitive pricing with Libraries. Example: One publisher declares that an ebook can only be checked out 27 times, then the license for that expires. Multiple publishers REFUSE to sell ebooks for Library use. Libraries are treated like pirates by many publishers.

This. It's all about this.
Dead-tree book publishers are this century's buggy whip manufacturers. They realize that their business model is dead, and are trying to prop it up by applying pricing/licensing schemes that make no sense in the digital world. Their death throes will be interesting.

Re:Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (1)

legont (2570191) | about 2 years ago | (#42604827)

The big issues involve licensing for eBooks and the fact that publishers seem to engage in punitive pricing with Libraries

Mod the parent up please. Yes, this is *the* issue.

Re:Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42604829)

I thought publishers were required by law to sell books to libraries at a reasonable rate. You mean that they now currently can just say "this book will not be in any library"? I always figured that they would say that if given the choice - why let people get your book for free?

Re:Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (1)

tilante (2547392) | about 2 years ago | (#42605209)

I thought publishers were required by law to sell books to libraries at a reasonable rate. You mean that they now currently can just say "this book will not be in any library"? I always figured that they would say that if given the choice - why let people get your book for free?

Nope, no such law. The difference comes in the fact that courts have held multiple times that publishers can't prevent people from lending out the books they've bought. Thus, a library simply buys the same edition of the book that you do, from the same places. They don't even have to say that it's for a library. Thus, de facto, publishers have to sell to libraries at the same price as they do to the public, since they have no way of distinguishing who's buying for a library from who isn't.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s in the US, book publishers tried to prevent libraries and used book stores from having their books. To do this, they put notices in the fronts of their books saying that the book was being licensed to the purchaser, not sold, and that the purchaser was forbidden from lending the book to others or reselling it without permission from the publisher. Court cases were fought, and it led to the 1908 case that created the "Doctrine of First Sale", which states that one a publisher has sold a particular copy of a work, they no longer have control over that copy, and the purchaser can do anything they want to with it, as long as they don't make more copies.

Now, we're going through the same thing again, with e-books and software. The publishers want to say you can't lend your copy to someone else, even if you don't make another copy in so doing. They also want to say you can't re-sell your copy. In the case of library sales, they want to sell to them under a different license, for a higher price - or at the same price, but with a severely limited number of times that the library can lend out the book.

In a couple of decades, maybe the Supreme Court will hold that the right of first sale applies to electronic materials as well - but honestly, I'm not counting on it. Especially with the current set of justices.

Re:Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42606787)

Same bs move is pulled on any venue where a movie might be shared - unless it is a private residence. Schools, churches, oil rigs, etc must buy a special, horrifically expensive version of the movie, not because it's meaningfully different from having all those people over to your house, but because they _potentially_ lost sales.

(Thank you, Harlan Ellisons of the world! You've made it harder for your fans to convince others to buy your product!)

Re:Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#42605019)

I guess what I would look at is the total cost of checking book, acquisition, processing, shelving, checking out, checking in, late fees that do not get paid, average check outs of a book, and then compare it cost the ebook. I suspect the major cost of the ebook in this case would be the reader. There will be a lifetime and they will need to be periodically replaced. This would be funded by lack of other costs related to physical books

I would hope that a public library system could do what Amazon does. Throw a temper tantrum and cut off revenue to the publishers. One would assume that the major library systems could get together in Texas and say that no more books will be bought unless a digital licensee can also be acquired at a per checkout fee. This fee would be given to publishers based on the above calculations. One would imagine that a rational publisher would accept a per checkout fee as it would provide a steady income. Such a fee would also allow libraries to more easily own 'multiple' books for simultaneous checkout. The publishers would obviously limit the number of copies, so that sales are not decimated. Perhaps older books are allowed more copies, while new book the per checkout fee is higher. I hope those in texas might write the leg right now as ask if this could be law for libraries in Texas, no print book if an ebook is nor provided at a statutory rate. It might save some money.

The licensee, as it works when I check out books is managed by a third party. I think it is overdrive. The book appears on my reader, then at the end of checkout disappears. Not physical connection is required. I do not have to go the library. The limitation is that I must prove I live in the area served by the library. If a per checkout fee is in use, this third party can also bill, collect, and distribute the fee.

I must that one thing I like about this is that there may be more MLA staff that will be available to assist patrons, or library assistants, instead of using the all the time shelving and locating books. While curating will be a critical job in some libraries, having that expense at the neighborhood level is seems increasingly wasteful.

Didn't we give them copyright in the first place.. (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#42607517)

The big issues involve licensing for eBooks and the fact that publishers seem to engage in punitive pricing with Libraries. Example: One publisher declares that an ebook can only be checked out 27 times, then the license for that expires. Multiple publishers REFUSE to sell ebooks for Library use. Libraries are treated like pirates by many publishers.

Didn't we give them copyright in the first place.. ..so that there would no longer be such things as book licenses?

I might be missing something, but I think that if we start licensing books again, they should lose their ability to copyright them.

Re:Fascinating Idea; BIG issues to overcome (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | about 2 years ago | (#42611369)

Libraries are treated like pirates by many publishers.

They're treating libraries like pirates? Makes sense, pirates are like a library.

The whole copyright-infringing piratical collective constitutes the biggest and most efficient public library ever known. The point of a library being to make cultural works available to the public for little/no cost... no inherent requirement that the number of copies circulated be limited, or that they only be loaned out temporarily, that's just what you have to do to make a library feasible when copies are expensive. Now they're not.

title confusing: wrong word order (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about 2 years ago | (#42603277)

understand, i do not

One of My Favorite Internet Rants (3, Interesting)

ios and web coder (2552484) | about 2 years ago | (#42603291)

The Internet Is Shit. [internetisshit.org]

As someone who uses (and relies upon) the Internet regularly, I don't share this person's views, but they make some extremely good points.

Many of these same points could be applied to eBooks vs. paper books.

Public Digital Library? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42603307)

That's the most idiotic thing I've heard. And I've been on the internet a while.

If it weren't for those messed up copyright laws, all it would take to make the project real, is just a calibre server.

Hell, I could do it. I have 25.000 books in a Calibre library, all nicely sorted and catalogued. As long as you don't ask how I got them (read just ~2000, but I'm getting there).

That whole concept seems silly. (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 2 years ago | (#42603345)

Why on earth would I want to load myself and the kids* in the car and schlep it over to the library to read stuff on an electronic device? It'd be a lot easier to do that from home using the entartubes. Are there still library systems out there that haven't drank the Overdrive Kool-Aid? I don't even need to put on pants to do that.

*I don't have kids but, from what others tell me, they can be a handful.

Re:That whole concept seems silly. (3, Interesting)

xclr8r (658786) | about 2 years ago | (#42603933)

1. Story time, Kids are occupied with the librarian while you are not the direct focus of your child.
2. Meet new people, have your kids meet new people and interact with an adult other than their teacher or you. It's actually nice for a kid to see that not all adults want something out of them (teacher - homework, parent - chores)
3. Librarians keep up on the latest books and some of the classics that you or your child might be interested in. Monthly selections on all sorts of books and media that you might not think to look for but there it is displayed for you to peruse.
4. Book clubs for adults - these can be enlightening and fun if you get the right mix of people and similar interest in titles. Not everything can be translated over text on book forums/amazon reviews.

WTF editors? (1)

exploder (196936) | about 2 years ago | (#42603361)

"Public Exclusively Library For Digital Media Proposed"

Seriously, it seems like not a day goes by without some [b]glaring[/b] editorial failure, be it spelling, grammar, or an [b]obviously[/b] botched copy/paste. I'm sure that I speak for many when I say that although I read Slashdot for the comments, the atrocious, lazy editing is still offensive.

Get your shit together.

Re:WTF editors? (1)

exploder (196936) | about 2 years ago | (#42603377)

Oh, shit, the irony...

Why not start w/ the public domain? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#42603401)

Got a Sony PRS-505 through work back when they first came out, but couldn't bring myself to purchase any books for it (and given how the copy of _Space Cadet_ which I got w/ a gift certificate was _rife_ w/ errors to the point of being unreadable and resulting in my spending the weekend proofreading the book, no big loss), and instead have been reading through public domain and (legitimately) freely available books as listed at the Online Books Page:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/new.html [upenn.edu]

I just wish there were better sorting options available --- in particular, I'd like to be able to filter out just biographies, then order them chronologically by date (of the lifetime of the subject).

Why a physical building for digital books? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#42603459)

More than a quiet place to read, why is needed that library? For most digital books for your own e-reader, computer or phone, an access point and knowing where to get the books (i.e. Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org] ) is enough. Even lending [amazon.com] , if you want to do it, can be done online.

Re:Why a physical building for digital books? (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 2 years ago | (#42603745)

Feedbooks.com [feedbooks.com] is a great place. Lots of freebies, and their freebies tend to be formatted better than the same public domain books on Amazon and Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is great - but they do skimp on some formatting and features. Also the Google Play Store has lots of freebies also - usually, but not always with the best formatting around. I have a Kindle, and unlike many of the public domain books from Amazon the Google Play Books are usually DRM free so I have no problem converting them to a Kindle compatible format using Calibre [calibre-ebook.com] .

I've even taken to fixing some ebooks with crappy formatting on my own and converting online reference material to useful formats using Sigil [google.com] .

I started out adding to you comment, I probably should have top leveled.

Wait 5 years (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#42603557)

Wait 5 years and e-readers will be under $30, then sell them at the front desk.

It's unclear why anyone would go this route (1)

drdread66 (1063396) | about 2 years ago | (#42603729)

My wife has a Kindle and uses it almost exclusively to check out e-books from the Austin Public Library. They have to be reserved through the library and transferred by Amazon, but she says the process is easy enough to manage. I know she has read upwards of 100 books in the past ~18 months this way.

So if libraries already have a working process for lending e-books for Kindle (and presumably other readers), I have to ask why someone thinks they need this "digital media library" approach. I assume that this is all political and/or publicity oriented, but I have to ask whether the money wouldn't be better spent elsewhere. If nothing else, loaning delicate electronic equipment to the public seems like a frightful risk.

Re:It's unclear why anyone would go this route (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42604263)

My library in Long Island, N.Y., not only does ebook - ereader- laptop lending, they pay to have the Freegal music download service (the entire Sony catalog) for their patrons. I download 3 drm-free tracks every week to add to my collection. A giant selection of cd/dvd discs to borrow, internet access, books and ebooks, what isn't at my branch gets sent from other libraries within 3 days. Modern libraries aren't just paper books anymore.

Wait, what? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 2 years ago | (#42603865)

"...To do that electronically would be cost-prohibitive..."

Huh?

OK granted, I understand that from the later context of the article, they're not just talking about an electronic library (which, let's face it, isn't much more than a gussied-up ftp server), they're talking about a whole social program where they loan out e-readers.

Electronic public library - great idea, easy way to make e-texts available to the public. Many public libraries already offer this service, but the service varies from community to community and there's really no reason for doing it that way. You could just as easily and more efficiently have a STATE-level electronic library and eliminate the redundancies of (for example) MN having 87 different public library systems each with their own little ghetto of users, access, and licenses.

Electronic lending of ebook readers - approaches the catastrophically stupid. So instead of lending BOOKS which are durable, relatively cheap, nearly-zero-cost once you've purchased them, you want to loan out e-readers which are fragile, expensive, and offer little utility to a typical reader above that of a normal book (as well as significantly lower readability, depending on the kind of book)? It's one thing if you're decommissioning physical libraries and the e-reader program is to allow the public to access those inventories, but if you're just talking about another social program to loan electronic gadgets to poor people, is it really the best time economically to be EXPANDING social service programs?

I wonder if those Texans know (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#42603889)

...that biblioteque means "library"... in French!

Re:I wonder if those Texans know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42605655)

It's a play on the Spanish "biblioteca", since there are so many Spanish speakers in San Antonio.

Cue 'Terms of Use' lawsuits (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#42603915)

I'm sorry, but do they think the people who created that content are going to allow it?

I applaud someone for trying to do this, but I predict it would almost immediately lead to lawsuits by people claiming their EULA forbids this.

These are the same people who think photocopiers should be banned, and if more than one person watches a movie they should get paid more.

Patent pending (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#42604105)

He plans to call the system the National Archive Project Storing Texts Electronically Readable.

Re:Patent pending (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42605511)

Already posted, so I can't give you the +1 Funny you so rightly deserve!

fucK? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42604121)

Why? (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#42604153)

What's the point? Why not just incorporate this into the regular public library?

Re:Why? (1)

mcspoo (933106) | about 2 years ago | (#42607341)

In theory, if everything could be done electronically, it would significantly lower the cost of having a public Library...

Of course, the building on this article would be minimally staffed, probably not offer storytimes, or other public gathering events... but it would be cheaper, and still fulfill the "basic" tenets of what a Library "was".

Re:Why? (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | about 2 years ago | (#42610029)

It could also be a County-Funded P2P node, and forego any staffing beyond a few guys in IT.

What about the poor Africans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42604365)

Surely we whites should have our wages stolen from us, in the form of taxes, so that we can give every African on Earth a free Kindle and the complete works of Shakespeare! Because, after all, it's not like it's a complete and utter waste of time trying to educate them, is it...

It's not as if their IQ is twenty to thirty points below that of white people, is it...

greedy publishers (1)

chipperdog (169552) | about 2 years ago | (#42604531)

Am I the only one who finds it odd that it is cheaper to purchase and circulate physical media rather than "virtual" media? I know my local school district, looking at fruity tablet computers, determined that electronic textbooks would end up costing more than the actual books they are purchasing now - largely because e-books from their publishers would have to be purchased every year, and not allowed to be passed down for a few years like a traditional book. Sound like the publishers killing e-books

Another plan to spend public money (1)

Crimey McBiggles (705157) | about 2 years ago | (#42604573)

This idea seems obsolete, given that most users with broadband Internet access have the necessary tools to host a digital library. Why should the public authorize the allocation of funds to yet another walled garden of publications when the technology already exists to allow the freedom to access anything at any time? I see what you did there, publishing companies.

Re:Another plan to spend public money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42606043)

Maybe its that Amazon is a corporation - loyal only to its shareholders.

Not well thought out (1)

dsvick (987919) | about 2 years ago | (#42604803)

I agree with some of the posts above, this isn't well thought out

They're also going to have to provide support for the readers they lend out. Some things are pretty straight forward but others are not. Like when you start getting into DRM issues and they need to set up an Adobe account for the epub books. Or if the reader they are lending has special software needed on a PC to download books, unless they will only be pre-loaded. What about the first time someone leaves a book on the reader they just returned and little 8 year old Joey is the next one to use it? Joey's parents may not be too happy with his new vocabulary. How about when they start coming back broken, will they be quick to replace them? How long will their insurance company put up with it?

As others have mentioned it sounds good initially, but a better idea would be a space in the library where people could sit and use a reader to see if they like it. Corporate sponsorship would work well here and give the library a chance to market its ebook collection.

Erm... we already have this (1)

liamevo (1358257) | about 2 years ago | (#42604957)

It's called "The Scene"

Just make topsites the equivalent of libraries under law and you've already got a head start.

Re:Erm... we already have this (1)

liamevo (1358257) | about 2 years ago | (#42605147)

I didn't even bother reading the fucking summary, but I still think of the scene as a type of library.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?