Magazine article Information Today

NetLibrary Offers 1,500 E-Book Titles to 100 Large Public Libraries in Trial Program

Magazine article Information Today

NetLibrary Offers 1,500 E-Book Titles to 100 Large Public Libraries in Trial Program

Article excerpt

NetLibrary (, the leading supplier of electronic books on the Web, is now offering 1,500 e-books from its collection of close to 12,500 titles to the top 100 public libraries in the U.S. Each library participating in the netLibrary e-book introduction program may choose to receive up to 1,500 e-books free of charge. The trial program lasts for 6 months, after which participating libraries may choose to purchase all or some of the titles. This initiative marks the first netLibrary marketing effort targeted exclusively at public libraries. The company already has an active program aimed at academic libraries and multi-member library consortia. OCLC added netLibrary's collection to its catalog inventory of electronic resources late last year.

The netLibrary staff points out that libraries offering e-books to their patrons effectively extend their hours of operation to 24/7 with no limits on geographical delivery beyond those of the library's self-defined constituency. According to netLibrary's president and CEO Timothy Schiewe, "Over the past year, e-books have become more widely accepted by the public; this initiative recognizes the importance of the patrons of public libraries as a growing base of e-book readers."

The list of titles offered to public libraries in the program comes from a careful selection process by netLibrary's staff and is designed to target titles with the broadest popular appeal. Candidates for participation can get a list from netLibrary. Subject areas featured in the introductory collection include general reference, careers, business, investing, computers, health, travel, etc. Publishers supplying titles to the collection include ABC-CLIO's reference handbooks, AMACOM books, Cliffs Notes, Health Communications' Chicken Soup series, Harvard Business School Publishing, O'Reilly computer guides, Macmillan's The Complete Idiot's Guides and Sams computer guides, McGraw-Hill business and computer books, the Rosen Publishing Group's Coping and Careers series, and Scarecrow's Historical Dictionaries. Besides the 1,500 commercially published titles, participating libraries will have access to some 2,500 public domain e-books, with over 600 more in the pipeline. The public domain sources--accessible by a ll netLibrary users--feature classics in literature and history.

Before participating, public library candidates must agree to purchase and integrate MARC records for the 1,500 titles into their online patron access catalog, take part in a training session, and display point-of-use materials in their library locations. NetLibrary's account management staff will maintain close contact with public librarians to ensure integration of the e-book collection and to track usage patterns. NetLibrary sells MARC records to go along with its collection, though large libraries may already have access through consortia or OCLC.

"We are very excited about this program because it will introduce highly functional and searchable e-books to a much broader audience," said Schiewe. "When public library patrons begin to experience e-books--some of them for the first time--I believe they will be hooked on this new way of acquiring and using information."

Brian Bell, spokesman for netLibrary, reports that the company has had very good response to this program already. In fact, non-U.S. libraries have approached netLibrary sales representatives, as have librarians from libraries not among the top 100 U. …

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