Monday, January 24, 2011

No Big e-Rush in Boone

While reading about the various e-readers and how they do or don't interface with library collections, I have definitely come to question whether I made a smart move purchasing a Kindle, which now appears to be the most stand-offish, uncooperative of the whole lot. *sob*  After a little research over the past couple of days, I have discovered that I might not need to be too hasty in switching over to a Nook (or other device).

Not surprisingly, the mountains are not a particularly population-dense area, so we are served by a regional library, a cooperative effort among three counties.  Despite its relatively small size--even as a group--the library, I thought, might be ahead of the curve on e-books for one very important reason:  winter access.  During the winter months, patron access to the libraries is very much hampered by icy mountain roads.  What would be a better solution than to offer e-reader selections to all those temporary homebound readers, right?

Unfortunately, it looks like the library is not thinking that way--or there isn't funding.  A search of the Appalachian Regional Library holdings shows no e-reader options.  Ah, but still there's hope!  I know that the AR Library does offer patrons access to the statewide program:  NC Live, which I know offers e-books!!  Happy happy joy joy!   Uuuunntiiillll, I actually poke around NC Live and discover this from their FAQs:

Ok, so maybe if you're trapped in the house for a couple of weeks by the latest blizzard and are dying for something to read, you might be tempted, under the weight of such dire circumstances, to read a book on your computer screen.  But I'll tell you, while I'm toying with the idea of becoming an e-reader (only as a supplement to my real book reading, mind you), I feel very confident in asserting that I will never be reading books on the computer screen.  Ack! 

I do have the advantage, unavailable to a lot of my neighbors, of having access to the library at Appalachian State University.  High on hope, I headed over there to check out the e-reader situation.  To my surprise, I found that their entree into the world of e-readers thus far consists of a current pilot project involving, of all things, Kindles.  The library has 5 Kindles, pre-loaded with 17 books each, available for check out for 3 week periods.  This just seems to point up the clunkiness of the Kindle's relationship with libraries.  The only way that Kindle can be used in the library still involves a physical exchange and does not allow for any individual choice.  Those checking out these Kindles can choose only from the pre-loaded books.  And I, as a Kindle owner, really have no role to play in this at all.  Even if I wanted to read some of the offered books, I wouldn't want to have to wait for a couple of months (the Kindles do have multiple holds on them, so I guess the program is popular so far) just to pick up a device that I already own, worry about not damaging it, and then have to return it in 3 weeks whether I've finished the books I wanted to read or not.

So, what have I learned today?  That there aren't a lot of opportunities for me to use an e-reader in conjunction with my libraries yet.  And that Kindle really does kind of suck when it comes to the free exchange of ideas.

**Ok, for the sake of full disclosure, I do have access to NetLibrary, which does offer books for e-readers.  But my access to that is through academic channels, and I'm really thinking about the issues of e-readers and access primarily through the lens of public libraries, so I'm not going to talk about NetLibrary just yet.**

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