January 20, 2014
ReadersFirst library coalition launches new ebook vendor guide
by Claire Kelley
ReadersFirst is an international coalition of 292 librarian systems cooperating to improve e-book access for public library users. After a meeting with ebook vendors and companies that license e-content and supply technical systems to libraries during the American Library Association‘s Midwinter Conference in Seattle in 2013, ReadersFirst began work on their ebook vendor guide, which was released last week on January 16th. The guide’s introduction includes an explanation about why this document was created:
Libraries have a responsibility to fight for the public and ensure that users have the same open, easy, and free access to e-books that they have come to rely on with physical books. Libraries face major challenges in this effort. The most obvious obstacle is that the products currently offered by e-content distributors, the middlemen from whom libraries buy e-books, create a fragmented, disjointed, and cumbersome user experience. ReadersFirst aims to overcome this challenge.
In the guide, seven Library e-book vendors—including Baker & Taylor, EBSCO eBooks, Gale Virtual Reference Library, Ingram, OverDrive, ProQuest, and 3M—were ranked, with Baker & Taylor, OverDrive and 3M received the highest compliance scores, while ProQuest and EBSCO received the lowest scores.
Michael Santangelo, Electronic Resources Coordinator for BookOps and ReadesFirst current coordinator emphasized that the guidelines will not only help librarians, but perhaps library patrons most of all:
E-books provide another way to reach readers—whether long standing library supporters or new users. Yet the full potential of lending e-books in libraries is being held back by technological confusion that even library staff members, as well as their library patrons, have trouble navigating.
ReadersFirst is advocating that vendors follow basic principles: that e-books can be found easily in library catalogs in one place, with the same information regarding holds and availability as other materials, and that patrons can access the e-books on all devices.
Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.