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Digital Libraries, Classrooms and Content

Top Twenty eBook Questions for Library Users

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Top Twenty eBook Questions For Library Users



1. Where is the best place to find the library’s eBooks?

The Library Catalog. While many eBook vendors provide their own web pages, searching for eBooks in dozens of places can be tedious.


2. Why would I want to use a vendor’s webpage instead of the library’s?

Some resources provide platforms with added functionality not available through the Library Catalog. NetLibrary and Credo Reference, for instance, allow you to search word-for-word across every book in their collection. This method finds content that would be invisible using your typical author, title, subject search in the Library Catalog.


3. Do we own our eBooks?

Yes and no. Some vendors sell their eBooks. Some lease access. Some give you a choice. And so we might both lease and own books from the same vendor, or even for two copies of the same book.


4. Can all eBooks be read on all devices?

Most devices can read most eBooks. Keep in mind that "reading" an eBook is not the same as "downloading" an eBook. It is a lot easier to read than to download.


5. On what devices can the library's eBooks be downloaded?

Not all of the library's eBooks can be downloaded, but of those that can, almost any device that can open a PDF works. An exception to this is the iPad which does not play well with NetLibrary, the library's largest eBook platform. The iPad will accept eBooks from SpringerLink, the library's second largest eBook platform. 


6. How long may eBooks be “checked out” (downloaded)?

The checkout of eBooks varies from vendor to vendor, and sometimes within vendor, so the answer could be Never, 3 days, 7 days, or Forever. The easiest way to find out is to simply try.


7. What is the difference between the library purchasing Books individually and in a collection?

eBooks tend to cost less when bought en mass, sometimes much less; but not always. Some collections might charge more to provide extra functionality or content. In this case they see themselves as selling a value–added “product” whose cost is not directly related to the eBooks themselves.


8. Does it take long to add an eBook to the library collection?

If the library already has an account with the vendor, the eBook can be obtained very quickly, and if the vendor provides cataloging records, the eBook can be added to the Library Catalog very quickly. If not, the process takes longer. So, best case scenario – 1 day. Worst case scenario – one week. Average scenario – 3 days.


9. Can eBooks be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan?

Most cannot, though that is changing. At least one vendor already allows interlibrary loan.


10. Are eBooks more expensive than books?

Yes and no. Some eBooks bought as part of a large collection cost less than a $1.00 a title. Usually this is possible because these collections are, in turn, bought through a large consortium. Individual libraries in these type of purchases have no say in what titles to include and what titles to exclude. When you go shopping for specific titles you pay a premium and that premium may include a hosting fee that can increase costs up to 50% above the cost of a normal book.


11. Where are the library's eBooks?

All of our eBooks are hosted by our vendors. They can be found using either the LIbrary Catalog or the vendor's web pages.


12. What is the difference between an eBook and a database?

While some eBooks are intended to be read “cover to cover”, some eBooks behave like databases. You type in a topic and it retrieves only the relevant information. You never see the whole eBook. An example of this would be Britannica Online.


13. What is the difference between an eBook and an eTextbook?

Textbook publishers, while keen to get into the eBook market, are also keen to make a profit, so they don’t like to sell to libraries. Typically, eTextbooks either exist online – protected by a user name and password – or are downloaded directly to the end user. Some downloads are permanent. Some expire at the end of the term.

NOTE: The library does not buy eTextbooks.


14. Are multiple copies needed?

Normally, no. eBooks are LESS likely to need extra copies than books. If you haven’t used eBooks much you may be surprised to learn that typical eBook users don’t checkout (download) eBooks. Instead, they go online, view the eBook, and get off. And when they do check them out, it is usually for a shorter time.


15. Are all books available as eBooks?

No. The great majority of books, past, present, and near future – are not available as eBooks.


16. Why should I buy an eBook when I can get it for free on the internet?

Although Google's Book Search can find an enormous number of eBooks, most are not complete. Also, some of the free eBook providers such as the Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive, frequently provide only the text and leave out the original images. Furthermore, to avoid copyright issues, the great majority of "free" eBooks are at least 70 years old. Thus you can read Mark Twain, Homer, and Augustine, but not Maya Angelou.


17. Can an eBook be placed on Reserve?

Not at this time. However, most eBooks can be placed on “Hold” if already in use. An email is automatically sent to the requestor when the eBook becomes available.


18. What “bells and whistles” come with eBook websites?

Note taking. Note sharing. Highlighting. Click to Chapter, Index term, or Key word. Copy and Paste. Printing. Dictionary. Translation. Read-Aloud. Etc.


19. If readers “check out” a book, how do they bring them back?

They don’t. Most of the library's eBooks either “expire” on your computer or mobile device, or you can keep them forever. Once an eBook “expires” it becomes unreadable and should be deleted.


20. How do I get the library to order an eBook?

Just send in the standard bibliographic information and specify format. We will let you know if it is not available or unusually expensive. If you don't have a particular title in mind, just a topic, we can search on your behalf or direct you to a likely source.