Magazine article Information Today

COSLA Assesses Ebooks

Magazine article Information Today

COSLA Assesses Ebooks

Article excerpt

When the Kindle first appeared in 2007, members of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) sprang into action, preparing to get ebooks into public libraries across the U.S. By 2009, COSLA had formed the E-book Task Force, and last year, COSLA established its vision: to offer seamless ebook lending from every U.S. library by 2015.

But it turns out that COSLA has plenty of work ahead: According to a survey that COSLA conducted last summer, 39% of libraries in the U.S. don't offer any kind of downloadable media--not even audiobooks or videos.

Jim Scheppke, the former chair of COSLA's E-book Task Force who retired in December after 20 years as Oregon State Librarian, is looking on the bright side. "It's kind of a cup half-full, cup half-empty story," he says. The good news is that those libraries not offering downloadable media serve only 16% of the total U.S. population served by libraries, which means that 84% of the population has access to downloadable media from their public libraries.

"In a way, I'm pretty proud of public libraries for ramping up as fast as we have," he says. "It's fairly remarkable that in just 5 years we've gone from zero to 84% of the population.... But we do need to address the issue of how can we make this possible for everybody? …

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