E-book creation and lending
EC: Do you make your e-book purchases based on demand?
ZO: For e-books, we mostly focus on mystery and romance genres, and then we regularly purchase literature or biography. When I buy literature, I go for what’s popular but also more Canadian-based. It also depends on pricing because we have a budget. For example: best sellers we kind of have to avoid, because for libraries they’re $60 or more, sometime $80 to $100, which is kind of crazy! Most of the people using e-readers are reading mystery, it’s actually the most popular e-book genre by a lot. It’s a lot of the “fast reads” and things that just immerse people.
HM: It’s also the voraciousness of romance readers as well.
ZO: It’s like a one book a day kind of thing.
LR: Could someone say: “Hey! I made an e-book, can I donate it to the library?”
ZO: Actually yes. We had one author come to the library, they donated to us the print book and she wanted to donate her e-book and make it available in Overdrive. How that works is that she basically emailed us the e-book file, and Overdrive has a feature where the library can add e-book files. Then we just type in the information and metadata that we had for her and now it’s available—just on the Atwater Library’s Overdrive site—so not throughout all of Overdrive, but our patrons can see it on there and can borrow it just like all our other e-books. It would be cool to develop that further because that’s where we can work on local, unique collections.
LR: For the first time ever, they will be taking native digital e-book titles from authors for the Public Lending Right this winter—meaning, if you’re an author, you can register e-titles now and somehow royalties will be paid. That might make it a little more interesting on the writer’s side, it’s less complicated. Writers already get cheques mailed straight to them for the Public Lending Right for physical books. You were mentioning next time you can do a ‘zine project and there could also be an e-zine version, and add that to Overdrive without costs to the library.
ZO: Yes, it would just be our time and that’s all, really…
EC: With our digital literacy project we get people to scan old photographs and make digital scrapbooks and stuff like that. I think that for some people would be pretty interested—and this is my experience just doing my film digitization this year—that they have really amazing collections that they might want to condense it into something they can share. Everybody has a relationship with photographs—it doesn’t have to be your own photographs—but we could have a collection in the library of that output. It’s also about the older people downsizing this thing where they got their photograph in the library forever… I mean, I would like to look at those on a tablet, just snapshots with little bits of writing, like an e-zine.
Libraries—in the age of over-abundance of information—become more about curating and perhaps helping the community widely in their efforts to create as well. That was the big inspiration of the whole digital literacy project that started 2005—the creation and being a central place where the community could come and find the stuff that was created within the community.
HM: Well, I think we’re thinking of the library as that third space too, it can function very well as a meeting place to do stuff in creative expression. So I mean, libraries have always changed how they connect people to content, and that content used to be microfiche, newspapers and now were going to more digital things, so it’s really an interesting arc.
LR: What about magazines and newspapers, Zile, are they a whole other can of worms? You can come to the library and sit with a physical Gazette or New York Times, yet I’m assuming you can’t log in for free to the New York Times’ website through the Atwater Library’s website?
ZO: No. We don’t have anything like that set up, but I know that at other libraries there are programs—I think one is called Zinea —where if the library subscribes to a magazine or newspaper, then the member can log on to the library’s website and access those from wherever they are. We don’t have the budget for that here.
LR: So, you don’t offer e-magazines.
ZO: No. We have magazines, just not online.
LR: Do any of the magazines that you subscribe to offer a deal on your print subscription if you add a digital subscription?
ZO: Not the magazines. The newspapers, technically as the subscriber, our staff has access, but we don’t give our patrons access. I don’t know how the newspapers would feel if we just let patrons use our account.
LR: So patron’s can’t log on for free on-site by coming to use the computer here? Or have a pay-wall access here?
ZO: No. It’s going to be interesting because—I don’t know if you’ve heard, but—La Presse cancelled their weekly paper subscription, so we might just cancel our subscription completely because we don’t have really that patron-base that would go to that.