I'm curious. I noticed on one of the libraries sites (one that is close to ours--not one that I work at) that they promote buying or renting books to download onto your mp3 player through their library. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it's great for people who are audio learners or have poor eye site or even can't get around as well anymore. On the other, it means less people coming physically into the library. It's kinda a mixed bag. (And I wonder what that means for their library in the long run.) But I'm curious what you guys think of it???
We have two ways that patrons can borrow mp3 audiobooks and e-books. One is through netlibrary (I think), and one is through the Utah State Library's Pioneer site. I don't know how much they are used. The advantage is that patrons can download a larger selection of books than we can buy physically. We certainly don't have less people coming into the library -- our stats for new cards and circulation are both up tremendously from last year.
In our library, it seems that most of the people who borrow audiobooks do so to have something to listen to during their commutes to/from work or while on a driving trip. They still check out a lot of traditional books, too. As James said, we are constantly processing apps for new cards and our library is getting busier and busier every month.
I think it's fantastic, and I wish I could offer this through my own library for my students. I don't think it's going to stop people from coming into libraries at all. It's just another way for libraries to stay current. Not only that, but this service actually makes the library more visible - and may attract people who otherwise would not use the library in any capacity. I think it's about time! :)
I agree with what has been said. I think it is a great service. Unfortunately, it is not cheap and so we don't have it at our library.
At our library you can't download books from the website but if you have an IPOD you can come into the library and we download the books that we have bought from ITunes. We have a licensing agreement or contract with ITunes and only one person can have the book downloaded at a time. It is checked out like a regular book and the person has to come in and show us he has deleted it before it is checked back in. We even have a few IPODS that we loan out. While it is popular with certain patrons I think our audiobooks are checked out more.
Thank you everyone! You have given me lots of food for thought. I'm doing a little research into this right now for our library. I hope to come up with a cheap but accessible ideas for our patrons. I kinda liked the IPOD/Itunes idea. I'll be sure to mention it. Many of our patrons have mentioned the need for more audiobooks or a place they can access it online. Just one more service we can offer them! Happy reading all!
We have a product called playaways in my library system, they are preloaded mp3 type digital format books. One thing that is nice is that they don't seem to suffer the physical abuse that Books-On-Tape & CDspks have to withstand. The B-O-T and CD's sit in hot cars and warp, the cases get crushed under car seats and juice & cheerios spilled on them. Perhaps their life span is longer(?) One good thing about them is that you can take them anywhere, they are smaller than a deck of cards & I love to walk with them. One bad thing about them is that they cant really be listened to with out ear buds, so good for train/bus commuters but not for people in their cars.
Actually you can listen to them in the car, but you have to get a FM transmitter that plays the book through your radio. I am not sure that purchasing one of those is worth it, but they are available for playaways, iPods, etc. Just a thought.
Our library is associated with Overdrive. I love it. But I still read books as well, and am in the library just as much.
Very often, these type of remote services (downloadable books from home) allow libraries to reach people who are not coming to the library at all. Rather than keeping people from the library, it welcomes a new set of virtual patrons who may not come to the physical library very often, but who will visit the online library weekly.
Overdrive also offers a downloadable video product for those libraries that can afford it. It makes at least that part of the library 24/7.
I think the downloadable audio books attract a different type of traffic to our library. The audio books (in my opinion) are for people who DON'T traditionally read because A. they don't like reading, or B. they don't have the time. These types of people don't frequent the library anyways. If anything, maybe the audio books will get them INTO reading, and they will become a patron when they wouldn't have before. Then there are the people who already frequented the library, and they just want an audio book to listen to when they are on the road, or in a situation where they can't just pull out a book, but they can put in headphones. These people will continue to frequent the library for the print books that they do have time to read. Plus, starting out, our collection is so small, the odds of us having the copy of a book you are actually searching for is minimal. Our collection is basically something you browse until you see something you might like. In conclusion (I guess I'm a bit long winded) I don't think the dowloadable audio books will hurt patron or circulation stats. If anything they will help them.
P.s. as far as affordability, our library uses overdrive, and we actually went in together with 4 or 5 of the surrounding area libraries, and we all pitched in to pay for the service, and then each library was responsible for purchasing a certain amount of books, and we all share the database. This makes it plenty affordable, and offers a larger selection than we ourselves could have offered.
And don't forget that libraries have offered reference books as downoadable e-books for several years. The most common service is the Gale Virtual Reference library (our consortium provides access to about 300 digitized encyclopedias through that) but Oxford, Grolier, Ebsco, and Greenwood also offer e-reference books. You have to have a library card to use them so it's an added incentive, (and hey, National library Card Sign Up Week is coming up!)
The point is that reading and research are no longer confined to a physical environment or object.