Some of the largest and most influential public libraries in North America banded together June 5 to deliver a manifesto of sorts to e-book providers. The libraries are pushing to make borrowing e-books as fast and easy as borrowing p-books for patrons.
As recounted by Library Journal on The Digital Shift site, more than 70 library systems signed the ReadersFirst Initiative, which focuses on four principles aimed at lifting barriers and restrictions on loaned e-content. Two of the principles call for enabling library cardholders to download e-content in any format to any e-reading device they choose.
The other two principles clamor for integrating all e-book catalogs and all functional processes involving e-books (checkout, placing holds, paying fines, whatever) into one system, preferably the library’s, so that users can enjoy the same seamless experience they have with hard copies. The libraries feel it’s unreasonable to force users to pop in and out of each e-book provider’s catalog to browse and search for titles, and then jump through more hoops in order to borrow a title.
Some integration is already underway but public libraries, at least the ReadersFirst Initiative group, claim it’s not happening quickly enough. However, publishers remain leery of permitting their e-books to even be allowed in libraries at all, much less streamlining the process for borrowers.