Consortium Plans to Make Inter-Library Academic E-book Loans Easier

ConsortiumInter-library e-book loans may become easier with the plans and help of a consortium formed to test a new process. Having access to a print book title not carried at a local branch happens relatively quickly with the aid of inter-library loans. The service makes it easy for patrons to find and borrow titles. Print books are not the issue, e-books are. Many electronic books come with library contracts that state, whole e-books cannot be transferred from a libraries primary location.

Made up of just under 35 academic libraries, the pilot test will make it easier for library patrons to check out e-book titles. Starting this spring Occam’s Reader will be used with software created by consortium members from Texas and Hawaii. The consortium is teaming up with Springer publishing who is lending its e-books for the pilot.

Springer was approached by alliance members because they shared a positive history. While the alliance was not sure how the offer would be received they are quite pleased with the results of the collaborative.

The program which starts in March, is scheduled to run for twelve months. The consortium hopes the idea appeals to other publishers and that more academic libraries come on board. The consortium hopes that plans will make inter-library academic e-book loans easier.

At Duke University, Associate Librarian for collections and user services, Robert L. Byrd says, “We would love to lend out e-books, but we can’t share them with users at other academic institutions.” Byrd cites restrictions associated with licensing and technical issues as gatekeepers hampering e-book sharing. “Not being able to loan e-books undermines the services we provide for patrons” he said.

“Copyright infringement is a pressing concern for authors who worry that book sales will drop if too many people have access” cited Joni Blake executive director for the alliance.

Ryan Litsey leads the software team and is a document-delivery librarian at Texas Technical. With plans in place, the consortium will soon be ready to test the software that will make inter-library e-book loans more readily available. He says, “The project’s name comes from a scientific concept that seeks to explain problems without overextending difficulty.” Occam’s Razor is what is being used to solve the problem of how to lend an e-book file” he said.

The developers came up with a plan. Using the web-based Occam’s Reader software, a lending library takes a condensed version of an e-book and loads it onto a secure web server. “In the process meta data is removed, it helps to keep the potential sales appeal of those who sell books” says Litsey.

Another factor that should help publishers and authors feel more secure about the process is that e-books on loan cannot be reproduced through downloading, printing or by copying. It is a win-win situation, patrons can borrow quicker while those looking to make sales from the book feel better knowing, material under copyright will not be reproduced. Helping researchers and writers access information easier is a large goal of the consortium as they complete plans to make inter-library e-book loans easier.

By C. Imani Williams

Texas Tech Today
UNews CA

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