January 24, 2012
Earlier this week, I downloaded a book from my local public library, to my iPad. The experience was not all that I wished for, and I decided to write about how transactions with our libraries should be as seamless as possible.
I initially searched some older and new titles and put them on hold (all were already checked out ). A few days later, I received a notice that my book was ready to download. Here is where the process became more complicated:
- First, I had to click on the link in the email.
- Then, I had to log in to site using my library card.
- Then I had to click on my account to find the hold.
- Once I did that, it took me to the Amazon site, where I had to log into my Amazon account.
- Then I had to choose to download the title.
- THEN, I received a message that I would not receive the title until I synced my iPad.
Whew! And I am used to using this type of technology, so I am wondering how the average patron may find this process. I am guessing frustration at best, and losing a patron at worst.
I did a bit of research and found some great links related to e-book downloading.
http://chronicle.com/article/The-Librarys-End-A-Long-Way/126018/; see #5 on seamless access
http://overdriveblogs.com/library/2011/09/21/library-ebooks-now-available-for-amazon%C2%AE-kindle/; contains the announcement on Amazon offering Library ebooks for Kindle and the process.
- http://librarianbyday.net/2011/09/28/public-library-ebooks-on-the-amazon-kindle-we-got-screwed/ ; nice commentary on the questions we all (librarians and users) should be asking ourselves regarding privacy and partnerships.
- Nice tutorials on how to download ebooks on various devices: http://montgomerycountymd.libguides.com/content.php?pid=38466&sid=282450
- http://janefriedman.com/2012/01/18/e-book-statistics-for-authors-to-watch/ ; e-book statistics that are a good reminder to libraries that if you are not offering assistance or access to ebooks, you will soon be left behind.
Don’t misunderstand: libraries seem to understand the idea of seamlessness. Although we may have to put in a library card number or PIN to access databases and downloads, this is hopefully the only barrier we put up to access. The process I went through to download a book is not the library’s fault; however, a patron will be turned off by this in a world that you type a question into Google and get a “good-enough” answer instantly, without a need for a password or process. As a profession, librarians should be striving to create as much of a seamless interface to information for their patrons. We should advocate with our partners in business to have a say in how the information we are providing is delivered to the patron, and be assuring our patrons’ privacy.
As more and more of our devices and platforms are merged, all of our media is becoming more seamless. As expectations to seamless access and sharing rise, libraries should anticipate and meet this challenge for both the benefit of the patron and the library as an institution.