E-Books - A Mixed Blessing

E-Books - A Mixed Blessing
Ebooks and their related devices have changed forever the face of librarianship. For the patron, the free books offered by most libraries are another fantastic benefit given with their library card. For the librarians, however, the landscape can be fraught with frustration. Imagine owning one device and being unable to figure out how to download an ebook to it. Now imagine owning ten or twenty or forty different ones and needing to figure out how to make it work on all of them. Welcome to the world of librarians.

In 2012, one of the major if not the major player in the U.S. ebook industry is Overdrive. However, although it is widely used in the U.S., it is not the easiest program to troubleshoot across devices. A few years back, the program only worked on a limited amount of devices. Of course, a few years back there were only a few devices to use it on. That is no longer true.

The holiday season of 2011 saw many well meaning gift givers showering their parents, siblings, and children with e-readers. Unfortunately that largess did not extend to tutorials about how to use them. In addition, owners of the devices found out quickly how expensive purchasing ebooks can become. Enter the public library's Overdrive program.

What makes the process of troubleshooting devices so difficult is that they are all different, the software that they run on is different, and no two patrons have the same type of computer system or the same level of proficiency with them. For that matter, the librarians in the position of trying to aid patrons may have little or no training on the particular device either.

So...what is a librarian to do? It seems a bit drastic and short-sighted to eliminate them from the collection. It would be expensive to buy every device for use in training. But, it occurred to me that perhaps the best person to train libraries is the one who made the program to begin with. Just as this thought occurred to me, I received an email from Overdrive offering trainings on their software. Interesting timing. I believe I will take them up on the opportunity and see how it turns out.

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