Loaning eBook readers

2 Jun

Today’s blog post is going to be what is apparently known as a “link post” (where I link to other’s content),  as I still haven’t lent my eBook readers or done anything myself. I’ll do a “think post” soon though on how we are RFID tagging dvds for returns so we don’t have to manually check them – as my staff have actually done something I can report and “think about” for that topic.

So eBook readers: At my Uni Library we have an Ecoreader, Kindle and Iliad to play with. Different staff have liked different things about all 3, so the old adage is obviously true that no 1 size fits all. Kathryn Greenhill has some clear thoughts on the iPad as an eBook reader in Australia on her blog, including a lovely summary of ebook readers here in Oz. She points also to Judy O’Connell’s excellent summary of the Kindle in Australia as well as the networking group in Facebook EBook readers in libraries.

Issues that have to be addressed specifically for loans desks are removing credit card details if purchases made on device by  a borrower; returns; penalties for lost items; manual handling of item for loan (not wanting to increase no of items behind desks that have to be handed over repetitively to borrowers); loan period; instructions for use and recharging.

I’m willing to explore the above by trial and error, however how do I start a trial?

Easiest option: Just advertise they are available for loan (content free) and see if anyone borrows one? Lend for a week perhaps… Looks like this is what Erasmus University in Rotterdam has tried. Also there is a report of user reactions to a similar trial at

Preloaded content: This was my original thought. I wanted to look for an alternative to our electronic reserve. However available academic content is sporadic, and filling a reader with the reading list of a particular class was immediately knocked out as we can’t get everything for any class we’ve thought of yet. I also resent the idea that I have to pay to add my own pdfs to the Kindle, and adding pdfs to the Illyiad chews up memory far in excess of actual file size.
Reference content is available often online though, and I’m about to move 2 branches to a new location, with a very small shelf allocation for reference. I’m thinking of giving the ref desk an eBook reader with a lot of ref tools loaded onto it. They can call it up on their screens to show students at their initial interview, then pass them the reader to go off and do some more work on their own. (see Wilkins & Swatman)

Ooh – just noticed that North Caroline State University has had a clever idea “One of the Kindle DX readers is a 4 hour loan news reader updated daily with TIME, Newsweek, The News & Observer, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Pick up the Newsreader Kindle at the D. H. Hill Library Circulation Desk.” Perhaps I could set this up for Australian news, or just on librarian selected resources eg citation styles? Get one reader preloaded with a range of usable articles?

Large files in electronic format:
One example Ronald Jantz has identified ebook readers as being useful for, is large files we already have electronically that students don’t want to download. At my Uni Library we still have lots of students with download limits or slowness. Files such as these could be loaded onto an eBook reader and entered into the catalogue as a standard record for borrowing. Now I just have to find a sample file like this we have electronically that students would want to view on a small screen. Currently most of our large files are for fine arts and students want to enlarge them on bigger screens.

Another benefit would be for students who are out in the field, or travelling, and want to lessen the load of material they carry with them. Again this is restricted by the small amount of current academic content available, but I could explore with medical students going to their rural placement perhaps. Another use would be to allow copies of Special Collections material to be read outside the physical confines of our set reading room, or outside it’s opening hours.

Interlibrary loans:
A subset of the travelling idea would be the ability to send special material for someone else to access, without providing a copy they can keep (printing restricted from many eBook readers). Or just a copy of material that shouldn’t be banged around in postage, and you want to send as an exact replica of the book format for authenticity.

There may be specific readings that could be loaded onto an eBook reader that students with limited vision could take to class and be able to consult in an enlarged format (again struggling with content issue at this point). Also the range of audio readings might include some academic content (perhaps). I must go and talk to our DLU(Disability Liaison Unit) ….

Different formats:
American libraries have been loaning music on iPads. I could also look at popular dvds and film clips in our Media library. Instead of sending them off to view on pcs in the library, I could get hold of an iPad and loan that directly perhaps?

Well in musing to myself on what to say on this blog about lending I have already come up with some new ways to motivate myself! Success for me if not my readers : – ) If I get any of the above into practice I will add to this blog.

Sources of information:

Great archive of reports etc (thanks CW) at

Mixed, 2010, “Group discussion on whether you would borrow an iPad from a public library”,

Kathryn Greenhill, 2010,

Ronald Jantz, 2001, “E-Books and new library service models:An Analysis of the impact of E-Book technology on academic service models”, Information Technologies and Libraries, 20:2.

Judy O’Connell, 2010, “Kindle-ing discussion about learning”,

Linda Wilkins & Paula M.C. Swatman, 2006, “E-Book Technology in Libraries: An Overview”,$FILE/21_Wilkins.pdf


4 Responses to “Loaning eBook readers”

  1. CW June 2, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    Thanks for this – great summary of the problems. (As it happens I am going to be talking with an academic re ebook readers. If anything interesting eventuates I’ll let you know)

    Oh, and I don’t know why you’re saying you don’t have enough for a think post! 🙂

    • restructuregirl June 2, 2010 at 6:35 am #

      Normally don’t have as much time as today for formulating my thoughts … Wrote this in my pjs on the sofa in between naps. Wish I could work this way once a week!

  2. snail June 2, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    That’s a decent summary with good references. Oh how I wish more bloggers could be this thorough. A note regarding loading PDFs on to the kindle – this can also be done via your PC ie bypassing Amazon altogether and therefore not costing anything. Amazon will be releasing a software upgrade for the kindle soon that will improve PDF handling too.

    • restructuregirl June 2, 2010 at 9:08 am #

      Thanks Snail.
      However it is only my 2nd blog post and I had a day on the sofa sick to play with it. May not get this much detail later!
      Thanks for teaching me how to do pdfs the free way though. That will open up the options of what we can load on them!

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