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Old 06-29-2011, 03:11 PM   #46
Nahgem
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Well, it is easy to think of eBooks as "high end" but that isn't always the case.

I can't recall ever seeing a direct comparison but I'd be willing to bet that on a per checkout basis, an eBook is cheaper than an inter-library loan of a DTB.
Preach! (ILL tech here.)

As to the original question: Should libraries charge for ebooks? My gut reaction is "Dear God no!", but I think that it depends on what one means by "libraries." Are we talking public libraries that are funded by local taxes? Private libraries that rely on donations? Academic libraries? Each of these have different membership requirements, and depending on who a patron is, sometimes requiring payment is reasonable and sometimes I think it isn't.

For example: I work in an academic library. All of our services (inter-library loans, computer lab access, on and off-site print/media checkout, etc.) are free to faculty/staff/students. Alumni can have free access to some of our services (they don't get computer lab logins and have to pay for ILL). Community members with no connection to the school pay an annual fee to be able to circulate local print/media titles AND have to pay for ILL. So, for a model like ours, where our budget comes from our administration via student tuition and constituent donations, charging non-students/faculty to access our new ebook collection (whenever we actually get it) would probably be a given -- if they were allowed access to it at all. I imagine a similar way of thinking would go into charging for services in other privately-funded libraries.

However, if it's a public library, that is funded by local citizens' taxes, I generally think charging extra for services to people who live within the library's jurisdiction is a bad idea. There's my knee-jerk reaction of not wanting to restrict public access to publicly-funded information coupled with my belief that, after the initial expense of setting up the system, ebook checkouts probably cost a library less than some more traditional services.

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Old 06-29-2011, 04:34 PM   #47
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Lacking home internet service and any ereading device, transportation is crucial. Again, who provides these?
In many cases, no one.

I'm not seeing your point. In many areas, American public transportation is shamefully lacking. Yet another thing I would happily pay more taxes for -- I'd love to give up my car entirely. But I'm not seeing a connection between "some people can't get to a library by ANY means possible" and the "should libraries charge for book rentals" topic.

To the previous poster, most epubs are measured in KBs. Dial-up download wouldn't be too terribly bad. Not thrilling, but very possible.
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:36 PM   #48
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It looks to me like money collected for checking out e-books might not be enough to pay the expenses of collecting the money in the first place.
My library accepts online payment for fines (even a few cents) with debit, visa etc. and of course one can visit lirary and pay cash
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:39 PM   #49
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I wouldnt mind helping my city branch. They have been more than welcoming to suggestions of ebook purchases and just fantastic overall. Actually when they were talking about budget cuts i looked for ways i could help.
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:39 PM   #50
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My library accepts online payment for fines (even a few cents) with debit, visa etc. and of course one can visit lirary and pay cash
I think his point was that the management system for handling the "low-income exceptions" would be onerous, and that a fee system without exceptions would be unacceptable (to him).

Not that taking cash/check/credit would be a hard thing in itself to implement.
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:56 PM   #51
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My excellent public library does charge a $1/week "Zoom" lending fee for physical copies of hot new books that someone wants to devour right away. Perhaps this idea could be adapted, such that free access is available to everyone (eventually), but those with the means can choose to pay more for instant gratification.

Furthermore, the library does not run its digital collection solo, but rather participates in the "Midwest Collaborative for Library Services." A clever feature of this set up is that many titles are marked, "Want to own this title? 'Buy it Now' at LibraryBIN - a digital bookstore that serves public libraries!" If you click thru and purchase, "The proceeds of each sale, after deducting the payment to the publisher for the wholesale cost of the title plus a hosting and fulfillment fee, are donated to the participating library that you specify. These earnings can be used to purchase eBooks, audiobooks and other media for the library’s download website."
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:58 PM   #52
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My excellent public library does charge a $1/week "Zoom" lending fee for physical copies of hot new books that someone wants to devour right away. Perhaps this idea could be adapted, such that free access is available to everyone (eventually), but those with the means can choose to pay more for instant gratification.

Furthermore, the library does not run its digital collection solo, but rather participates in the "Midwest Collaborative for Library Services." A clever feature of this set up is that many titles are marked, "Want to own this title? 'Buy it Now' at LibraryBIN - a digital bookstore that serves public libraries!" If you click thru and purchase, "The proceeds of each sale, after deducting the payment to the publisher for the wholesale cost of the title plus a hosting and fulfillment fee, are donated to the participating library that you specify. These earnings can be used to purchase eBooks, audiobooks and other media for the library’s download website."
That IS clever. There have been several eBooks that I've bought after reading them from the library -- I'd happily buy through the library to support them.

Link: http://www.librarybin.com/EBF0E5F0-9...eLibraries.htm

Alas, my library does not participate. I'm going to suggest it to them. Thank you!
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Old 06-29-2011, 07:27 PM   #53
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In our library system, books are free, but to check out DVDs, you pay a per DVD fee. I'd be okay with imposing some per ebook fees (I wouldn't be for charging a flat yearly fee). However, collecting these fees would be more tricky than DVD borrowing, because you can borrow ebooks remotely from your computer, which means the library would need to get software for this and deal with credit cards.
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:18 PM   #54
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No way! This would be going back to the bad old days of subscription libraries, when only those who could afford it could use the library. Libraries should be funded from taxes and free to all as should education. I'll get off my soapbox now or you'll never hear the end of it.

Afterthought: surely it will be cheaper in the long run with no repairs, shelfspace, chasing up of overdues etc. in the use of ebooks.
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:39 PM   #55
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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.)
I don't recall if there is a fee for the card itself where I live, but there is a charge if you keep things too long certainly. Plus they sell some of the older books and such to make room for new. They do have ereaders for loan here (a month) and no fee for the actual loan. I think they might have ebooks but they're through Overdrive which isn't yet compatible with Kindle.
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:47 PM   #56
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i have a lot of overdue fees.
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:55 PM   #57
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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.
yeah, I find this worrisome too. I'd personally be willing to pay a small yearly fee for more ebooks (say, like what the Free library of Philadelphia charges for those not in the area), but I would worry that it would lock out people, and I don't like that at all.

That was pretty cool about the Minneapolis library having a drive for used readers, too. Great idea!

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I don't recall if there is a fee for the card itself where I live, but there is a charge if you keep things too long certainly. Plus they sell some of the older books and such to make room for new. They do have ereaders for loan here (a month) and no fee for the actual loan. I think they might have ebooks but they're through Overdrive which isn't yet compatible with Kindle.
I've put Overdrive books on my Kindle. Oh, scratch that. Our library books come either in Adobe Digital Editions OR Overdrive, and its the ADE ones I put on my Kindle (with a little help from Calibre, of course).

I'm a bit puzzled by the people who know exactly how much of their property taxes go to libraries. How do you know it's that much?

Anyway, overall, I would love our library to have more e-books, but when I did a recent survey with the library, I qualified for my desire for more by saying that I know, in our state, the libraries are fighting just to stay open and buy new (paper) books, and so as much as I would like e-books, I'm not willing to divert scarce resources to something that I believe gets less use than regular books.

I love the way the Philadelphia Free Library works, allowing people out of their service area to pay to check out e-books. I wonder if other libraries do that? It's a good idea to help get more resources to support a service like this.

eta: we have no fees for library cards or for late books, unless the book is actually lost and has to be replaced.
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Old 06-29-2011, 10:01 PM   #58
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My excellent public library does charge a $1/week "Zoom" lending fee for physical copies of hot new books that someone wants to devour right away. Perhaps this idea could be adapted, such that free access is available to everyone (eventually), but those with the means can choose to pay more for instant gratification.

Furthermore, the library does not run its digital collection solo, but rather participates in the "Midwest Collaborative for Library Services." A clever feature of this set up is that many titles are marked, "Want to own this title? 'Buy it Now' at LibraryBIN - a digital bookstore that serves public libraries!" If you click thru and purchase, "The proceeds of each sale, after deducting the payment to the publisher for the wholesale cost of the title plus a hosting and fulfillment fee, are donated to the participating library that you specify. These earnings can be used to purchase eBooks, audiobooks and other media for the library’s download website."
that's not a bad system at all. it would also encourage a more diverse collection of titles, perhaps?
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:15 AM   #59
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Bad idea and bad precedent. i already pay for my local and area as well as all the rest of the public libraries in the state.
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:39 AM   #60
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While I'm well able to and would not mind paying for myself, I have to say that I think this is a TERMINALLY BAD idea.

It defeats the very purpose of public libraries - to make information freely available to all. Period.

I grew up dirt poor in a single parent household - we weren't on food stamps or other assistance because we were 'proud'. But double shifts were a way of life.

We practically lived at the public library - we couldn't afford many books of our own, but we devoured the library, especially my older brother and I. Even a small pittance per book would have been beyond our means.

Times are tough enough already without jerking books out of the hands of the poor and needy.

And the 'if you own an ereader, you can afford to buy ebooks' argument doesn't hold water if someone receives a reader as a gift with the understanding that they can check out library books.

One day ereaders will be as cheap as calculators are now (remember when THOSE cost an arm and a leg?) - let's not set a bad precedent for those who don't own them now but will undoubtedly own them later.

No bars to knowledge!
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