No Shelf Required® is a blog about eBooks, loosely defined to discuss eBooks, audio books, and other digital content found in libraries as well as the technology needed to read and listen to this digital content. Created in 2008 by Sue Polanka, now Head of Reference & Instruction at Wright State University Libraries, the blog has evolved as a forum for librarians and publishers. particularly focuings on the issues, concepts, current and future practices of Ebook publishing including: finding, selecting, licensing, policies, business models, use (tracking), best practices, ebook readers, and promotion/marketing. She recently edited a follow-up to her first book, No Shelf-Required 2, which is a strong compilation of articles dealing with eBooks in this time of transition and uncertainty. In this book, I find a number of thought-provoking issues raised:
Do E-books Bridge the Digital Divide? - The digital divide spans much more than just digital and information literacy -- it also includes the access to hardware and software. If we look at the average income of Americans, the disparity between the rich and poor is high. Access to e-Books is only possible if you have the means of owning e-Readers! Not everyone has the luxury of broadband internet access; desktop computers, MP3 players, cell phones, and e-Readers. Many students across North America struggle to print out their research papers at the local public library due to lack of access at home. This is where libraries come in. They must advocate avenues for every patron to have access to these new e-book technologies through grants and new government policies - it's happening in other parts of the world. Now it's our turn here in North America.
E-book Preservation - With e-books as the new rage, and e-Readers coming out by the dozen, we forget that the formats that accompany these e-books are impermanent and will be outdated eventually. As librarians, how do we maintain and preserve these formats? How do we sort through the digital rights management? We're still in the early stages of wading gently through the legal waters of the e-book industry. Do we just idly wait? These are issues that libraries will eventually face once e-Readers become obsolete and patrons and customers turn to us for help with their content.
E-book Sea Change in Public Libraries - HarperCollins' Overdrive announcement on February 24, 2011 sent a shock wave throughout the library world. Although it mostly affected public libraries, HarperCollins' imposition of limiting each e-book to just 26 circulations before it simply disappeared from the library's digital collection was a stark reminder to the library world that publishers are not our friends and the same effects could spill into the academic library hemisphere, too. While publishers insist that the new cap on e-books circulation is simply to protect sales, it caused some leaders in the library world to respond with some harsh utterances.