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Public Library Exclusively For Digital Media Proposed 90

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-copy-that-book dept.
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.'"
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Public Library Exclusively For Digital Media Proposed

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  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:36AM (#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

    • by khb (266593) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:45AM (#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.

    • by kervin (64171)

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

      • by alen (225700)

        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

        • by bjwest (14070)

          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.

    • by ukemike (956477) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:16AM (#42603517) Homepage
      A better question might be, "How many people aren't interested in using any e-reader?"
    • 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...

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • by kimgkimg (957949)
      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.)
    • by jonadab (583620)
      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 s
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:38AM (#42603025)

    One of us must be drunk.

    • 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.
    • 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!)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously...

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • 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.
    • by vlm (69642)

      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 k

  • 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.

    • by mcspoo (933106) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:58AM (#42603265) Homepage

      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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tilante (2547392)

        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

        • by mcspoo (933106)

          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?) Com

          • by nbauman (624611)

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

          • by tilante (2547392)

            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 si

        • by nbauman (624611)

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

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

      • by gregor-e (136142)
        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 f
      • 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 libr

        • by nbauman (624611)

          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 stud

      • by terec (2797475)

        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 th

    • by vlm (69642)

      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 t

    • 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?

      • by terec (2797475)

        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.

    • 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 whate

  • by mcspoo (933106) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:53AM (#42603195) Homepage

    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.

    • by Jawnn (445279)

      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.

    • by legont (2570191)

      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.

    • by Zeromous (668365)

      I don't see the problem, we've enjoyed these luxuries in Ottawa for a few years now.

      http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/ebook-and-audiobook-support [biblioottawalibrary.ca]

    • by fermion (181285)
      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.

    • 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.

    • by mpeskett (1221084)

      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 t

  • understand, i do not
  • by ios and web coder (2552484) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:00AM (#42603291) Journal

    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.

  • 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.

    • by xclr8r (658786) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:43AM (#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.
  • "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.

  • 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 t

  • 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.
    • by pecosdave (536896)

      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

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

  • 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

    • 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.
  • "...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

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:39AM (#42603889)
    ...that biblioteque means "library"... in French!
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:41AM (#42603915) Homepage

    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.

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

  • by Chirs (87576)

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

    • by mcspoo (933106)
      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".

  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 returne

  • It's called "The Scene"

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

    • by liamevo (1358257)

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

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