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Old 06-29-2011, 09:16 AM   #1
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Should Libraries Charge for eBooks?

With tighter budgets, libraries are feeling the crunch and are being forced into cutting back on services and even closing down some of their branches. With that in mind, would you be willing to pay a yearly fee ($25~$50) to checkout ebooks, music, videos and other e-content? Fees collected would only be used to support e-content. All other library services would remain "free".

This library in New Zealand is about to go live with ebooks, but will charge patrons for the service.

Quote:
Tauranga (New Zealand) libraries are introducing eBooks into stock for borrowing and libraries manager Jill Best is expecting them to be available online from next month.

Tauranga City Libraries is in the final stages of tweaking the software that will enable people to download eBooks for a small fee.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:20 AM   #2
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Libraries aren't free here in the first place, and most of them haven't probably even heard of ebooks...
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:23 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetpea View Post
Libraries aren't free here in the first place, and most of them haven't probably even heard of ebooks...
Technically, they aren't free in the US either. They're supported by tax dollars.

How much do you have to pay for a library card?
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:29 AM   #4
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approaching $400 a year on my property tax bill.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:33 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetpea View Post
Libraries aren't free here in the first place, and most of them haven't probably even heard of ebooks...
Ditto on the first part, haven't been in one for a looong time, so I don't know about the second. Wouldn't doubt it, though.

Ah - I actually found their website.

One time registration fee: 70 Euro cent
Fee per book, for three weeks: 50 Euro cent for adults, 20 for students, free for kids up to 15 years and elderly.

[edit]Perhaps I should mention - this is for the library in my hometown. There will be other fees for other towns, but I should think it's similar.

[edit 2]Also, I'm certain it's supported by tax money as well.

Last edited by Cyberman tM; 06-29-2011 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:44 AM   #6
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I haven't found Belgian libraries yet that have ebooks.
Our library charges a yearly fee of € 5.00 for adults, and no charge at all for lending.
Under 18 a library-card is free for printed materials, or a yearly fee of € 5.00 for non-printed items.

You can borrow up to 10 different items at ones, but not more than 5 non-printed items (movies, dvd's, cd-rom, audio-books).
You can keep the items for 4 weeks, unless during summer, than it's 8 weeks.

Last edited by AnneT; 06-29-2011 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:47 AM   #7
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And to answer the primary question: I would be willing to pay a small fee for ebooks at my library, even when I don't have to pay for printed ones...
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:51 AM   #8
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To answer the question - my biggest problem isn't that I wouldn't be willing to pay. I'd pay a small fee to get access if I needed to.

My problem would be that fee charging for access to those books in effect locks out the lower income members of the community from accessing those materials. This would be in direct disregard to one of the primary parts of the libraries mission, which is to provide access to reading material to all local patrons regardless of their income levels.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubemonkey View Post
How much do you have to pay for a library card?
Depends.

There are 4 subscriptions.

the cheapest (you seldom go, but still want to be able to if you feel the need) is a one time €3 fee. Above that, it's €1 per book €1.50 per cd/dvd/game, €2 per sprinter book (no idea what those are, I presume books that are in high demand?) and €3 for a spinter cd/dvd/game.

The next is €28 per year and the price per are €0,20 per book, €0,75 per cd/dvd/game, €1 per sprinter book and €1,50 per sprinter cd/dvd/game.

Then there's one for €40 per year, but no more fee per loan.

And the most expensive one is €57 per year. The difference between that one and the previous one is that you can take more items home and can keep them longer (6 weeks, instead of the default 3, and 50 items, instead of 25, the two cheapest only have 10 items).

Under 18 don't pay a yearly fee and no fee per book, but a fee for the other items, between 18 and 23 pay a €25 fee (per year) and no fee per item.

And ebooks, as I said, not a trace....
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:01 AM   #10
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@abookreader: There you certainly have a point...
On the other hand: to be able to read an ebook, you do need a device, and they don't come free either, so I fear there is already a barrier to reading ebooks for people on a limited budget.

(In the city were I work (Eindhoven, so not in Belgium where I live) the library doesn't have ebooks, but you can try an ereader for free during one week... I don't think many libraries would be willing to do that kind of investment.)
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:17 AM   #11
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I don't think libraries should charge for e-books as there are no potential losses of physical books involved.

I have not tried borrowing from my local library's ebooks collection, but apparently it's quite comprehensive (and free).
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:20 AM   #12
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I am so glad I live in the UK. Council tax is used to pay for libraries so joining and borrowing books is completely free at the point of service. Saying that my local council doesn't have a clue what e-books are and when there was a library consultation seemed to think that e-books meant lending out Kindles for people to then download things from Amazon *facepalm*, I gave up trying to educate them when I realised that the majority of others in the debate didn't really know what e-books were or how they are delivered by libraries either.

To answer your question, I wouldn't pay a fee unless I had to also pay a fee for printed material. At that point I would probably stop using the library as I believe it should be free to all at the point of service.
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abookreader View Post
My problem would be that fee charging for access to those books in effect locks out the lower income members of the community from accessing those materials. This would be in direct disregard to one of the primary parts of the libraries mission, which is to provide access to reading material to all local patrons regardless of their income levels.
Reduced or no fees for low income patrons could easily be worked in based on income.

Of course, that begs the question - who pays for their computers, ereaders, DVD players, MP3 players, and internet access they'll need in order to play this e-content?
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
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On the other hand: to be able to read an ebook, you do need a device, and they don't come free either, so I fear there is already a barrier to reading ebooks for people on a limited budget.
So true. With budgets as tight as they are, providing hardware for lower income individuals is a non-starter for most libraries. After all, these patrons still have access to all of the library's traditional services.
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:36 AM   #15
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And to answer the question I posed, I'd be very willing to pay an annual fee; plus I'd even pay to sponsor someone who was unable to afford the fee.
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