Giving Them What They Should Want: In moving forward with e-books, is Douglas County really moving backward?

Publishers Weekly logoBut at this moment in nascent e-book history, is “ownership” really so vital? Is it really practical for public libraries to try to reform the publishing business by rerouting our patron demand? Or do we risk losing patrons dissatisfied with our digital offerings?

It is a complex question. I believe that part of the promise of digital content for libraries lies in experimentation, and that the ownership model, necessary for research libraries, may not suit public library needs any longer. Shouldn’t public library collections be dynamic and ever-changing? Does any public library really need to own an e-book it plans to discard in three years? Or 48 digital copies of Gone Girl?

One of the great opportunities for public libraries in the digital world is that they should be able to continuously recreate their collections, at a reasonable cost—without the expense of housing, materials handling, weeding, and discarding.

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