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|VOLUME 19 NUMBER 1, SPRING 2011|
Fogler Library currently provides access to more than 100,000 scholarly and other e-books via links in URSUS records as well as links to groups of e-books from our Indexes and Databases web page. What does this mean for our users? Are e-books from the Library different from the ones many readers download to their Kindles, Nooks or other e-book readers? Why is the library buying e-books?
E-books are available 24/7, regardless of library building hours. E-books also help support distance learners, a growing segment of our student population, as well as others who prefer to access books online. Purchasing e-books can help with shelf space issues in the building. Finally, some titles are ONLY being published as e-books!
What’s different about e-books in an academic library context?
The library usually has to sign a license agreement when purchasing e-books. Agreements include digital rights management, or DRM, which can limit such things as how many users can view an e-book at the same time, whether it can be downloaded or shared, how many pages can be printed, etc. Some e-books packages are made available as subscription databases (e.g. Safari Tech Books), so the library is providing access but does not own the e-books. E-books are often more expensive for libraries than print books due to a number of factors (we hope this will change in the future!).
Can I download library e-books to a computer or e-reader device?
It depends. All e-books that are made available to library users in standard PDF, HTML, or text file formats may be downloaded to or viewed with any device or computer that can open those formats. This is generally true of e-books that are purchased directly from the publisher and are available on their web site, such as Springer, Wiley, Elsevier/ScienceDirect, Oxford, Cambridge, ACM, and Synthesis Digital Library. Often downloads are chapter by chapter, rather than the entire book.
Many e-books the library has purchased or subscribes to may be viewed on-screen using a web browser while you are connected to the site, but are not available for download. These restrictions are due to digital rights management from "aggregator" vendors that license titles from multiple publishers to libraries. Examples include Ebrary, Safari Tech Books, and Netlibrary.
Popular reading e-books in the Maine Infonet Download Library may be downloaded to a number of personal reading devices, with the exception of the Amazon Kindle.
Can the library buy any e-book that is available on Amazon, Google Ebooks or
other commercial sites?
No, libraries are not allowed to license Kindle e-books or others that are sold for use by individuals. Sometimes this means that Fogler is unable to purchase a book at all for our collection, until it is made available in print or through a vendor that licenses e-books to libraries.
Are there any problematic issues in libraries providing e-books?
Yes, the major one is that licenses and DRM can prevent sharing or Interlibrary Loan of the e-book in electronic format, though sharing portions of an e-book via a printed excerpt may be allowed. Also, some students and faculty prefer to read books in print format only.
How do the online editions compare to the print editions of books?
Generally the content is the same, but the e-book format may allow keyword searching within the book, electronic note-taking, and other features. For reference works the online book is more like a database, with continual updates and additions by the publisher as needed (e.g. American National Biography or the Oxford English Dictionary). Depending on the publisher, the electronic and print formats are not necessarily available at the same time. For many scholarly publishers print is available before the e-book, and the opposite is often true for popular and self-published titles.
How are decisions made about e-books for the library?
Librarians and faculty may recommend a print or online format for a single title at the point of ordering. Groups of e-books that fit curriculum needs or correspond to prior print acquisitions may be purchased or subscribed based on distance courses offered, subject area, and cost differential. Some books that the library receives on an automated shipment plan, primarily in the sciences, will be received soon as e-books rather than in print. Finally, some e-books are not selected per se, but are included in large databases that are subscribed primarily for their journal content, such as Academic Search Complete.
To view some examples of e-books go to
and browse Ebrary Academic
Complete Ebooks Collection, Netlibrary, Safari Tech Books Online, or
SpringerLink. UMaine ID holders also have access to the Maine Infonet Download
Library which provides downloadable popular e-books. For more information, visit
our e-books FAQ page at: <www.library.umaine.edu/colldev/ebooksfaq.htm>
Home | Olive Tree | Spring 2011 Issue
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