Monday, June 25, 2012

Libraries, patrons, and e-books

Some 12% of Americans ages 16 and older who read e-books say they have borrowed an e-book from a library in the past year.
But most in the broader public, not just e-book readers, are generally not aware they can borrow e-books from libraries, even though three-quarters of the nation’s public libraries offer the service. We asked all those ages 16 and older if they know whether they can borrow e-books from their library and 62% said they did not know if their library offered e-book lending. Some 22% say they know that their library does lend out e-books, and 14% say they know their library does not lend out e-books.

Many of those who presumably have an interest in knowing about the availability of free library loans of e-books are not sure about the situation at their local library. According to a nationally-representative poll by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project:

58% of all library card holders say they do not know if their library provides e-book lending services.

53% of all tablet computer owners say they do not know if their library lends e-books.

48% of all owners of e-book reading devices such as original Kindles and NOOKs say they do not know if their library lends e-books.

47% of all those who read an e-book in the past year say they do not know if their library lends e-books.

“It was a genuine surprise to see these data, especially after all of the attention that has been paid to the tension between libraries and major book publishers about whether many of the most popular books should be available for lending by libraries,” noted Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet Project. “E-book borrowing is gaining a foothold in the library world and will likely grow much more in the future as more people become aware of it. That might add more pressure to the situation – or prompt the parties to come up with a solution.”
In the survey, e-book borrowers were asked about the selection of e-books through their library: 32% of e-book borrowers say the selection at their library is “good,” 18% say it is “very good,” and 16% say it is “excellent.” Some 23% say the selection is only “fair,” 4% say it is “poor,” and 8% say they don’t know.
Donna Morris
State Library Director

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