City Library Joins Leading Library Systems to Demand Better Service for E-Book Users

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Julianne Hancock
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City Library Joins Leading Library Systems to Demand Better Service for E-Book Users
Four principles required to improve current state of e-book distribution in North America


June 14, 2012 – SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Library System has joined over 70 leading library systems from the United States and Canada to call for vastly improved e-book services for their users.

The coalition of libraries – that serve approximately 50 million users -- have signed a joint statement calling on e-content providers to follow four basic principles that would give the public a better, less cumbersome experience accessing e-books, and lift burdensome restrictions that limit what libraries can actually offer. The statement and a list of participating libraries are available at http://readersfirst.org.

“The City Library firmly agrees with the principles outlined in the statement because e-books and digital content have become a critical part of our collection,” said Deborah Ehrman, Associate Director for The City Library. “We are allocating more of our budget towards e-books as more users demand them. Now more than ever, ensuring easy access for our users is critical.”

Unlike print books, publishers do not sell e-books directly to libraries. Instead, libraries purchase e-books from distributors. These middlemen deliver content through proprietary catalogs and control the user experience separate from the library’s online catalog. “The result is an often confusing, cumbersome, and frustrating experience for our patrons,” said Ehrman.

The City Library began offering e-books in 2011. Since then, library users are downloading an average of 5,000 titles every month. The library expects downloads to continue to increase; since January 2012, an average of 18 new users have registered for the e-book lending service per day.

“In order for libraries to continue to function as key providers of information to the public, basic principles must be followed,” the Readers First statement said. “The libraries who signed this agreement are committed to holding content providers to this standard, and will prioritize these requirements when acquiring e-books and other e-content.”

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