The past few years have seen a huge increase in the availability of electronic books. With readers such as the iPad and the Kindle, personal book collections have become extremely portable, and have reduced the need to visit a bookshop, or buy a large bookcase. For Libraries, ebooks mean improved access. They can be read anytime, anywhere, and (depending on the licence) can be read by more than one person at a time. There is no need to wait till the library opens, or join the waiting list for a popular title, and a recent study shows that the “humble laptop” is still the e-reader of choice.
CPIT Library has been an online library for a long time, mainly through electronic journals and databases. Searching Library databases to find an article for an assignment, reading it online, or printing it, should be (or will become), a familiar pastime for every student.
Ebooks are not quite so familiar, but 24/7 access, the ability to keyword search, bookmark, highlight, print and copy content, make the electronic version of a required or recommended reading an attractive option. I would love to see all of our High Use Collection available online. No more 3-hour loans, or scrambling to reserve a 3-day loan ahead of your classmates! BUT… while there has been rapid growth in the popular ebook market, the availablity of e-textbook titles is still limited. Academic textbook publishers depend on each individual student buying their own copy of textbooks. They also produce a new edition every year, limiting the re-sale value of older copies. These publishers are reluctant to provide electronic textbooks to libraries, which can then be used by several students at once, and which never wear out!
Meanwhile CPIT Library does provide access to a range of ebooks, and just like our Databases, they all look slightly different, and behave in slightly different ways. For Business and Computing we subscribe to Safari Books Online. This collection is regularly updated with titles published in the last 5 years. N.B. The Library subscription to Safari does not allow for downloading onto a mobile device or e-reader, but it does allow for 3-5 simultaneous users.
EBL (Ebook Corporation) provide a large selection of ebook titles spread across the whole collection. These titles can be downloaded but require Adobe Digital Editions. If you are reading an EBL book on-campus it is recommended that you do not download it but read online. Downloading a title onto a PC on-campus restricts you to reading it on that machine. From your home computer you can download and transfer to an iPad or iPhone and read via the free Bluefire Reader app, or EBL books can be transferred to any portable ebook reader that supports Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). There’s a list of these compatible devices on the ADE website. EBL titles also allow for multiple users to be reading the same book at the same time.
Our other main ebook supplier is Ebrary. These titles can only be read online, although ipad and iphone apps are currently being developed. Ebrary titles are also restricted, because of the licence agreement, to one user at a time.
Electronic resources support students studying off-campus or through blended course delivery, but they were also very useful after the earthquakes when CPIT was closed. Next time you are looking for information in the Library, do not be put off by the view-online option, check out an ebook.