There are other where blogs you can read more about this. The upshot is that OverDrive sent out a “State of OverDrive” letter which had some concerning news in it. The Librarian in Black outlines the primary issues. The big deal is that one publisher, Harper Collins, wants to dramatically change its ebook terms such that once you “buy” an ebook to be distributed via overdrive, it can circulate 26 times and then no more. Keep in mind that OverDrive is acceding to these requests, so I think we rightfully have a bone to pick with them as well. BoingBoing gives you some information on why this sort of DRM situation is bad for libraries, bad for people.
There are some other things in the OverDrive note including them starting to be hardasses with libraries about who is in their geographical region, to make sure libraries aren’t, I guess, defrauding OverDrive and giving cards to any old person so that they can rip OverDrive off? The mind boggles. I call this meddling. Bobbi Newman has a good and updated summary of who is saying what about this and this Library Journal article about it is replete with comments.
Now is really the time for us to step up and use our excellent collective buying power to say that this sort of thing is not at all okay. I am sorry if OverDrive is realizing that their revenue model isn’t as terrific as they maybe thought it would be, but this is overstepping what a decent vendor/library model should look like. I just get this weird feeling that in these tough economic times, OverDrive and book publishers, forgetting that libraries are some of their best and most enduring customers, have decided to see how they can get more money for fewer services. At the same time, they’re treating libraries as if we’re the ones responsible for publishers’ revenue problems. Shame on both Harper Collins for being tough guys and OverDrive for giving in to these demands.
Publishers and vendors: we will work with you to find ways to lend digital content. You need to not treat libraries as if they’re contributing to your demise.
This is shaping up to be the year that people really start seeing ebooks and libraries as things that can go together. ReadWriteWeb just made this post about the Internet Archive getting into the ebook lending business, both via its collection of freely available ebooks as well as a pilot program with a small subset of libraries. This is terrific. It is also confusing. I followed the links in the press release and on the Internet Archive site itself and could not figure out exactly how I’d go about borrowing a book if I was a part of a member library (I have a Boston Public Library card). That said, wow the interface itself is knockout and just made me want to click around and mess with it.
Oddly the minor problem I had, and it is minor, is the same as the complaint that people who have used OverDrive via their own library to try to read ebooks. This reporter from the Wall Street Journal explains the headache that is trying to search OverDrive for available titles, those that are available for checkout. In order to check out and download an ebook, which I eventually did, I had to
– Search Open Library for ebooks
– Find one with a “borrow” icon next to it. OL also offers DAISY format for people who are visually impaired as well as many books that can be read locally.
– Get redirected to a search on OverDrive’s site saying “nothing available.” Redo search on OverDrive’s site to find this title available.
– Click WorldCat’s “find in a library” option and type in my zipcode
– Figure out that book is or is not available from my local library. Start again.
– When I find a book that is available, click through to my local library catalog & click “add to cart” to return to OverDrive (if book is available, which it sometimes isn’t)
– Take side trip to download Adobe Digital Editions (much less painful than previous OverDrive software experience)
– Proceed to “checkout” on OverDrive after entering a library card number that I think will work
– Download book. Read book.
So, not terribly bad and I think better interfaces and interactions between websites will make this process much more seamless. Right now I had to interact with Open Library, OverDrive, WorldCat, my library’s branded OverDrive page and my library catalog. At several stages during this process there are varying levels of “availability” of an item. Specifically.
– Book is shown in Open Library but is not available at a library I have access to.
– Book is available at a library I have access to, but not in the format I am looking for.
– Book is available at a library I have access to in the format I want but has been “checked out.”
Currently there is no one way to do a search for an ebook and have a result say “Yes we have it, it’s in this format, and it’s available NOW” I am optimistic that it is a matter of time before this is working and Open Library is currently making this work better than anyone else. Update: the Palm Beach County Library has a really nice interface that makes it a lot more clear what’s there and what’s actually available.
Brian points to this article about USB keyloggers that were found attached to computers at public libraries. If I saw one of these on a library computer, I might not even be sure what it was, or that it wasn’t part of the keyboard. Know your hardware, what to expect and what not to expect and check out the backs of your computers from time to time.
A comment in my previous post led to a blog post, nominally about NYC’s Fashion Week, but including some photos of the apartment over the 67th Street Branch of NYPL.
Grandpa’s Grandpa was a Norwegian immigrant. He lived on East 67th Street between First and Second Avenue, in the penthouse apartment above the 67th Street Branch library. He was the custodian of the three-story building, and at the time, the custodian lived above the library (there was a dumbwaiter, but no elevator) as part of his employment package.
As many of you may know, my long term goal is to be able to live in or at the library I work at. So I enjoyed this paragraph from the New Yorker Article about how the internet gets inside us immensely, though I worry my desires may become trendy.
“There is, for instance, a simple, spooky sense in which the Internet is just a loud and unlimited library in which we now liveâ€”as if one went to sleep every night in the college stacks, surrounded by pamphlets and polemics and possibilities. There is the sociology section, the science section, old sheet music and menus, and you can go to the periodicals room anytime and read old issues of the New Statesman. (And you can whisper loudly to a friend in the next carrel to get the hockey scores.) To see that that is so is at least to drain some of the melodrama from the subject. It is odd and new to be living in the library; but there isnâ€™t anything odd and new about the library.”