Public library looking toward ebooks

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library patrons could have access to ebooks after the first of the year, the library’s assistant director said Tuesday.

But Jennifer Smith said the process of acquiring ebooks and getting them in the library is complicated and involves more than just calling a distributor and ordering books. That includes, she said, getting publishers to release books to the library in ebook form and finding someone to supply them to the library.

“We still have a lot of steps to go through,” she told the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club. “There are a lot of issues that we are not happy with.”

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One issue, she said, is the reluctance by some book publishers to let libraries get electronic versions of their new releases out of concern they will lose money by releasing then to libraries.

“The six major publishers will not let us have their new releases in ebooks,” she said after the meeting. “They’ll sell us the hardcover books but not the ebooks. The smaller publishers have no problem letting us get their new releases in ebooks.”

And the library needs to find a reliable supplier to provide it with ebooks.

“We have to make sure we can find a supplier that can provide consistent supply of ebooks to us and has a good selection, that is very important,” she said. “It’s going to take time to work all these things out.”

Discussing other changes at the library, Smith said a grant from International Paper has enabled the library to purchase Playaways, small, digital players that hold four or five children’s books on video.

“This is a great way for kids to get interested in books,” she said. “We hope it will lead to kids checking out books.”

Other things available through the library’s audio-visual section, she said, are audio books for MP3 players and movies on DVD.

She said a grant from Lockheed Martin will enable the library’s reference area to replace the library’s computers with more efficient machines.

“That’s a very big thing for us, because people use those computers to take college courses online, apply for jobs and write resumés and letters,” she said.

Smith said Lockheed’s engineers recently helped the library upgrade its software, allowing the computer system to work faster.

“We have a lot things going on every day,” she said. “We’re constantly adding to our collection. We pride ourselves on being responsive to the community.”