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To Lend . . . or Not


presentation by robyn andrews of furman university at the charleston conference 2010 on things to consider when deciding to implement an e-reader lending policy at an academic library.

presentation by robyn andrews of furman university at the charleston conference 2010 on things to consider when deciding to implement an e-reader lending policy at an academic library.

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  • Good afternoon everyone. My name is robyn andrews and Im the circulation supervisor at the james b duke library of furman university located 3 hours away in greenville south carolina. Furman University was founded in 1826 and is a beautiful, independent, coed, liberal arts college with approximately 2700 students and home of the Furman Paladins. Our library the James B Duke Library houses more than 500,000 volumes and acquires approximately 10,000 new titles each year. I have a confession to make - I am not a librarian and never worked in a library before so you will not hear any mention of MARC records, metadata or the word boolean. Also, this is my first conference presentation so if you need to get to your next session early or get a nap in before dinner, now’s the time to head to the exits. To Lend . . . Or Not.
  • Some libraries are lending kindles and nooks and others aren’t even considering it. What’s a library to do? We decided to consider it, with a little prodding from our computing & information services department, also known as our IT department. They kindly provided two amazon kindle 2s to the library and said ‘try ‘em out.’ So in 2009, our access services librarian, caroline mills and I were charged with finding possible academic applications for the kindle including lending them out through circulation.
  • When looking at purchasing technology to incorporate in a lending program, we realized that there was a very short time period between introduction of new generations of amazon kindles which got us thinking about obsolescence and how quickly e-reader technology was being introduced to the market before we had finished investigating the original, but I digress.
  • The survey was conducted in spring of ‘09 and respondents were generally enthusiastic about participating in using the kindle, but that enthusiasm did not carry over into wanting to use it on campus.
  • We supposed that it could be that faculty use ILL for items used in academic research and not being able to use multiple texts.
  • However, there were some known and unknown issues associated with instituting a kindle lending program. One was Amazon’s notorious terms of service which doesn’t allow for lending of the content, only the device itself. Second, was the proprietary format of the kindle books, which means they could not transfer over multiple platforms (back in the dark ages of one-ereader) and can only be read on the amazon kindle. There was a concern regarding location numbers used on the kindle vs. page numbers in a book if students or faculty wanted to incorporate classroom usage, so we decided to postpone implementing a formal lending policy. We do have them available for assessment purposes, but interest has waned for these devices.
  • Subsequently, a bigger issue arose regarding kindle content and that is ownership. In July of last year, Amazon removed specific editions of georgeorwell’s 1984 from kindle owners who had purchased these editions. Without their knowledge. Up until that point, not many people considered that they were purchasing content and that you had a non-exclusive right to view it and that digital content is deemed licensed to you by amazon. And in the meantime
  • An explosion of e-reading devices hit the market. And of course, the e-reader killers
  • And mobile devices with e-reading capabilities
  • And e-reader apps such as iBooks, bookstore apps by barnes & nobles, borders, and amazon, that are available for iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Android, Blackberry, and, the new Windows Phone 7. So what’s a library to do but buy some more e-reading devices. So…
  • What the heck does that mean? It means that we decided to concentrate on our e-book collection instead of an e-readerdevice. After using the iPad for several weeks, it became apparent that the iPad was a different animal entirely than a dedicated e-reading device such as the kindle. It is more than an e-reader. It has e-reading capabilities among many other things, but that’s not all it can do. The consensus of the committee was that future generations of e-reading devices would most likely be multi-purpose like an iPad.
  • Most, if not all e-reading devices have web access, which means that our digital catalog will be accessible to patrons through the internet.Learning the nuances associated with using different platforms will be a challenge without access to those platforms, hence the next bullet.Don’t you love that word – judiciously. I’m not sure what that means. We have not purchased any new e-reading devices, thank goodness, as I just read where barnes & noble just came out with a color nook, HP is coming out with a tablet, and microsoft with windows phone 7. The introduction of new e-reading devices, new generations of existing e-reading devices and new e-reading apps led us to the conclusion that making sure our digital catalog is web compatible and web accessible is probably the best thing for us at this time.
  • So what about you? Ask the questions. And your questions may be different but here’s some starters:
  • A patron who is borrowing the device or who already owns the device and wants to borrow content?Do you have systems librarians that will manage the maintenance/repair of the devices? Send them back to the mfgr for repairs? Will the content be patron-driven? Will your acquisitions librarian choose content? Will the device be a copy .2 to the monograph in the collection?
  • Experimentation, edification, to assist patrons who already own the device, to expand the collection. This question got a lot of discussion in our committee meetings. Will the patron come in knowledgeable about their device or will they look to us for direction. Most of our students have laptops and cell phones with web access. Our campus is a Microsoft Windows environment. 60% of our incoming freshman class at Furman brought Macs. Will your campus IT department give you support? Will the patron come into the library expecting us to know how to use iPads, kindles, HP tablets?
  • I don’t know. Do you think support for your device will be around. I think we’re all pretty confident that amazon will be around for a while, but they may not necessarily stay in the e-reader device business. They began in the book selling business and it remains their main business, whereas apple is a manufacturer of technological hardware and that’s probably the business they will stay in but will they stay in the e-reading app business.If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If we have kindle2s do we dance with who brung us or move on to kindle 3s? Do we go in a different direction and purchase nooks or sony e-readers, or a multi-function device such as an iPad. This got a lot of discussion in our committee meetings as well.
  • Who knows? There is a lack of physicality is intimidating. Are you willing to pay for licensing only or are you hedging your bets that you will one day own that content? What does your crystal ball tell you?Some libraries are circulating kindles and nooks with in-library use only, others allow them to leave the building for generally one-two weeks. What about the cost factor in replacing devices that are damaged by the patron. Will you be able to or are you willing to recoup replacement costs from the patron.
  • ILL supplement – patron driven, immediate access to items not in the catalog.Patron expectation – do patrons expect to be able to borrow these devices from the library? are we going to be an e-reading device showroom?Catalog enhancement – e-reader copies can be the copy 2 to existing books on the shelf..
  • Not true. But there are many things to consider before trying to integrate e-reading device lending in an academic library. Thank you very much for sticking around and enjoy the rest of your afternoon. Now stephen will answer any questions you have.


  • 1. To Lend…
    or not
    furman university
  • 2. Once upon a time…
    • Early 2009 - Furman University’s James B Duke Library acquired 2 Amazon Kindle2’s followed several months later by 2 Amazon Kindle DX’s
    • 3. Two-week trials were offered to campus faculty and staff over a 3-month period to assess using Kindles on campus either departmentally or in the classroom.
    • 4. At the end of the trial, participants were asked to complete a short survey about their experience using the Amazon Kindle.
  • 4 months
    3rd Generation:
    August 27, 2010
    Kindle DX (1st Gen):
    June 10, 2009
    2nd generation:
    February 9, 2009
    18 months
    33 months
    and we’re not done . . .
    1st generation:
    November 19, 2007
    14 months
  • 5. Survey Says . . .
    • Before the trial, 90% of participants had heard of the Kindle but had not used one.
    • 6. Participants were evenly divided as to their perception of the ease of use of the Kindle, ranging from “somewhat difficult” to “very easy” to learn.
    • 7. All participants found the readability of the Kindle to be good or excellent due to e-ink technology.
    • 8. Of those who downloaded sources to the Kindle, the majority reported this process to be “easy.”
  • Survey Says . . .
    • Responses were mixed as to using the Kindle in lieu of Pascal or ILL—38% responded that they would not use the Kindle for these purposes.
    • 9. In open ended responses all but one participant suggested that we should continue to investigate using the Kindle.
    • 10. Using the Kindle for ILL, reserves and for the general purpose of learning this new technology were suggested.
  • =
    The amazon kindle is great for leisure reading but not yet ready for the academic environment.
  • 11. amazon
    My Kindle
  • 12. EXPLOSION!
  • 13. the e-reader killers?!?!
  • 14. et al . . .
  • 15. e-book reader apps
  • 16. The Sequel
    • In April, 2010, the James B Duke Library at Furman University acquired 8 Apple iPads
    • 17. An E-reader Committee was formed to assess possible academic and/or library applications for iPads and they were distributed to committee members for review.
    • 18. The committee met several times to create policies and considerations for future acquisition of e-reading devices.
  • The Decision
    “The libraries will build and promote digital collections and will develop expertise to become a campus resource in the applications of digital e-readers.”
  • 19. The Decision
    • The library will focus on building a digital collection that is accessible regardless of the electronic device used.
    • 20. The library will actively develop expertise on the use of e-reading capable devices
    • 21. Judiciously purchase a small number of representative e-reading capable devices for evaluation when significant product advancement warrants.
  • Ask the questions:
  • 22. who?
    • is the end user?
    • 23. will manage devices?
    • 24. will fix broken devices?
    • 25. decides what content to download?
  • what?
    • is the purpose of acquiring e-reading devices?
    • 26. level of service (expertise) will be expected from the patron as individual device owner or as device borrower?
  • when?
    • will your e-reading device become obsolete? will it?
    • 27. do we purchase a new device that’s introduced to the market? or a new version of existing purchases?
  • where?
    • will content reside? are you sure?
    • 28. will the devices circulate - in library use only? outside?
  • why?
    • are we getting into the electronic device lending business?
  • the world may never know