ALIA Report: Comparison of Ebooks and Elending in Australian Public Libraries

ALIA has released a new report – Comparision of Ebooks and Elending in Australian Public Libraries 2013 v 2014. Approximately one third of the 1500 public libraries in Western Australia responded to the survey.

The reports key findings included:

1. Nearly all Australian public libraries now lend ebooks; up from 69% a year ago to 97% in 2014.
2. On average, ebooks make up 5–6% of a public library’s collection.
3. In 53% of public libraries, ebooks account for less than 1% of loans, and in almost all,
they account for less than 5% of loans.
4. 60% of libraries use two or more ebook providers, up from 33% in 2013. The three most
popular providers are Bolinda, Overdrive and Wheelers.
5. Between half and two thirds of libraries are less than satisfied or not satisfied with the choice
of bestsellers, books by Australians, popular authors and overall content.
6. 71% of libraries have ebooks in their catalogue but less than a quarter of libraries (23%)
are able to offer ebooks direct from their catalogue.
7. More libraries appear to be loaning ereading devices — 23% in 2014, up from 19% in 2013.
8. Skills in public libraries have remained at a similar level, with two in every five libraries saying
most or all of their staff were conversant with ebooks and ereaders.

The full report is worth reading, as it contains some interesting comments from public library staff.

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ALIA E-lending Report 2014

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has released the E-lending Landscape Report 2014. ALIA commissioned Brussels-based Civic Agenda to produce a worldwide elending landscape report, identifying public library-led initatives to secure ebooks for borrowers.

Australian public libraries have experienced great difficulty in obtaining ebooks for elending and finding a platform which will meet the desired criteria:

  • A secure, trusted repository that contains ebooks from the big publishers, as well as from authors direct, and from local publishers
  • Content procured at a fair price
  • Providing access to local history content
  • Library branded
  • Providing content that can be accessed from all sorts of devices
  • With a clever discovery layer
  • The options of loan or buy.

The report on elending platform developments internationally is intended to help identify practical solutions for Australian public libraries. It includes a list of conclusions and options available for Australian Public Libraries to consider when purchasing electronic material.

Library Journal Material Survey

Library Journal has released its annual materials survey, with some interesting findings regarding ebook availablity and circulation.

Nine out of ten U.S libraries now loan ebooks. Since 2009, print book budgets have fallen in favor of ­ebook dollars, with ebooks escalating from 1% to 7% of the materials budget overall and averaging closer to 10% at the biggest libraries.

Ebook circulation has also increased 1% a year since 2011, when this survey began measuring it, but no patterns emerge by location or size. Instead, ebook success may be attributed to individual library and community dynamics.

ReadersFirst guide to library e-book vendors

ReadersFirst has released their guide to library e-book vendors. The report ranks seven major library e-book vendors against the ReadersFirst principles, and outlines best practice for the distribution of e-books.

To develop the report, ReadersFirst developed an evaluation form to be completed by vendors, which included questions about whether systems could store and index metadata, allow clients to place holds on items, send delivery notifications, provide detailed account information, and so on.

Massachusetts eBook Pilot Project

The Massachusetts Library System has launched a six-month pilot project to explore different models of e-book lending, different platforms and user experiences.

The project will see 3,000 titles being made available through Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 service, and 30,000 (largely historical) titles made available through the BiblioBoard platform, developed by BiblioLabs. These titles will be available through a single discovery interface developed for the project. 51 libraries in Massachusetts are participating in the pilot.

Project launch press release
Project scope and timeline

IDATE study of commercial availability of digital books to French public libraries

The French Ministry of Culture and Communication commissioned a report from consulting company IDATE on e-book lending in French public libraries, to promote discussions about e-lending in French libraries, and review possible future directions and trends. The report is the result of a literature review and interviews with nearly forty experts from a number of targeted countries, conducted between June 2012 and February 2013. An English-language summary of the report is available, but the full report is available in French only.

The report surveys the current e-lending situation in Sweden, the UK, Germany, Spain, North America and the Netherlands, and compares these with the current situation in France. If found that:

  • E-book lending is comparatively rare in French public libraries, although the proportion of e-book titles available to French libraries is greater than in some other countries, and e-lending is much more established in Anglo-Saxon countries
  • No single model for e-lending exists, and models are still being developed
  • The relationship between e-books, publishers, and aggregators is critical to how e-lending can be implemented

IDATE also makes a number of recommendations for establishing a balanced e-lending framework, including:

  • Finding a middle ground for the use of DRM
  • The publishing sector should provide a “coherent offer” of e-books, which should include recent titles
  • Economic models should not be standardised while the market is still in development
  • Consortia licensing should be allowed
  • Statistical data should be shared between publishers and libraries

Tender for Library Authorities to join UK e-lending pilots

The Society of Chief Librarians and the Publisher’s Association have released an invitation to tender titled Testing the impact of e-lending both on-site and remotely upon the Public Library and Publishing sectors.

One of the recommendations of the Sieghart review of library e-lending in the UK was that a series of pilots be constructed to test remote e-lending, based on one user-one copy, and that copy would deteriorate after an agreed number of loans. The pilots are intended to provide publishers, authors, agents and libraries with an evidence base to assess what happens to lending and purchasing behaviour in those areas.

The SCL and PA appointed research and strategy consultancy MTM London to design the pilot projects in August 2013.

The current tender calls for Library Authorities to participate in the pilots. Four authorities will participate, one each that:

  • represents a largely rural population and will loan e-books for 7 days
  • represents a largely rural population and will loan e-books for 21 days
  • represents a largely metropolitan population and will loan e-books for 7 days
  • represents a largely metropolitan population and will loan e-books for 21 days

Each participating authority will be required to purchase a pre-agreed set of approximately 1,000 titles, made up of front- and back-list titles from major publishers, prominent UK authors and new titles as they are published.

As well as meeting the standard requirements from publishers and platform providers, the participating authorities will be required to include a ‘click to buy’ button for all titles included in the project.

Participating authorities will be required to report on the changes in physical and e-lending habits of clients during the pilot. The pilots are intended to run for 12 months to December 2014.