Tuesday, October 27, 2009

E-books not the end of Libraries?

I read an interesting article today about E-books and how they have impacted on libraries around the country. The reason I found it interesting was because it was praising the fact that E-books have actually increased library membership in some areas.

I was always of the mindset that new technology would replace old traditional methods and would affect the number of people still using them, for example how more and more people are using the internet as a news source instead of newspapers. E-books offer the user the chance to read a book on a computer screen or via an E-book reader (which to a certain extent is a portable screen which allows the user to read a book off of it.) The reason I figured this would cause libraries numerous problems and perhaps even force some to close was the key fact that E-books are downloaded and therefore the actual books are only required so that they can be uploaded onto a database.

The reason that the libraries have seen a surge in members isn't because stubborn people are refusing to engage with new technology, it's because libraries have started to engage. Libraries have seen a decrease in the number of members over recent years and the fears that the public were no longer interested in borrowing books were there to see, but technology seems to have saved the day. So far Luton, Essex and Windsor & Maidenhead are offering the service where members can download the E-books to their computer via the library website and then have 14 days to read them before they are automatically deleted, saving the reader the trouble of having to remember when it is due back.

I think the E-book system offers a number of benefits especially with regards to encouraging children to read. Children are growing up with more and more technology and if that technology can be used to encourage a child to read more often then it can only be a good thing. Although there are no official statistics available at the moment a librarian quoted in the Telegraph article (see link below) said there have been "more than 250 members signing up, even though only local residents could use the service."

It seems like it's a great system which can enable libraries to stay open and use it to run along side the actual books which some people still like to borrow in the traditional way. It's also fantastic to see technology enhancing tradtional methods instead of replacing them.

Here's the Daily Teleraph Article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/6417660/E-books-helping-surge-in-library-members.html

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