eBooks and Public Libraries


Exhibition catalogues as eBooks

Exhibition catalogues are books created to accompany an art exhibition. The catalogue may contain a table of contents, acknowledgements, a preface, one or more essays, photos of artworks in the exhibition plus other photos, a checklist of the artworks in the exhibition, a bibliography and an index. For smaller exhibitions, a museum may publish a brochure or gallery guide with lesser information. Historically, catalogues have been published on paper. As of 2011, a variety of tablet devices such as the iPad and eBook readers such as the Kindle and Nook have gained market traction. In the future, new catalogues will be published in eBook format as well as on paper, or solely as eBooks. Some museums are publishing catalogues online. See Digitizing Initiatives for a sample list of online-published catalogues.

Amazon.com's internal subject searches provide a useful estimate of the amount of eBook titles commercially available. Amazon.com has a Kindle eBook section. An October, 2004 search using the keywords "American art" yielded only one eBook title. In November, 2004 TFAO searched for American art eBooks in 21 digital public libraries and found one title at the Denver Public Library. As of May, 2011 an Amazon.com Kindle eBooks search for "American art history" yielded 1,689 results.

Due to rights issues connected with artwork images contained in paper-printed art books published prior to the advent of electronic tablet devices, TFAO predicts that adaptation to the eBook format for the total contents art books published before the era of tablet devices will trail that of novels and other titles featuring only text. The same holds true for art magazines.

TFAO's digital library need not be presently concerned with establishing an eBook lending program. When practical, such a service will be largely driven by requests of patrons.


eBooks and Public Libraries

Nationwide, public library systems are establishing "digital libraries" to offer eBooks, which are electronic versions of books that can be viewed on a tablet device or eBook reader. eBooks are designed, according to the software publisher Adobe®, to allow or restrict printing of the contents and expire after a period of time. eBooks can be read out load by a device, and enable highlighting, search and notes. Adobe® says "Adobe® eBook technology allows library patrons to borrow, download, and read offline a wide variety of titles on any computer running Microsoft® Windows® or Mac OS. Once a book is checked out, it can be accessed for a set amount of time, after which it is automatically deactivated, making it available for other patrons."

Advocates point out that eBooks in digital libraries:

InternetWeek.com, in a July 19, 2004 article titled "Booksellers, Libraries See Growth In eBooks," describes adaption of eBook lending practices in public libraries:

The Park Ridge Public Library in Park Ridge, Ill., a suburban area north of Chicago, is offering city residents access to a new online eBook service over the Web. The library serves approximately 40,000 residents, circulating an average of 700,000 print volumes annually. OverDrive, a vendor of eBook solutions for libraries and retailers, supplied the technology for the new service...
The libraries [sic] collection includes bestsellers, classics, and fiction and non-fiction titles from leading publishers. Park Ridge library cardholders can check out and download eBooks online in Adobe PDF and Mobipocket formats. After downloading free reader software, they can read the books using handheld computers, PCs, Macs, and smartphones. Books are returned automatically.
Usage of OverDrive eBook library services has been on the upswing. In addition to the Park Ridge Library, the Denver Public, King County, San Jose Public, Cuyahoga County, and Cleveland Public libraries, among others, have deployed the OverDrive Digital Library Reserve service

netLibrary, a division of OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. in October 2004 estimated that "More than 76,000 complete titles are currently available in eBook form, representing a broad range of subject areas that meets the needs of thousands of diverse library customers, including academic, public, corporate, K-12, and special libraries, both domestically and internationally."

The help guide for the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services leads patrons through the steps of selecting and checking out eBooks. The process largely parallels the procedure used in a physical library. Questions are answered such as how many eBooks can be checked out at a time, use of an eBook Bag, return of eBooks, eBooks on hold, etc.

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