E-books, e-audio and public libraries: Is it lift off or steady as she goes?

Robert Pymm, Sarah Steed, Matthew Burless


This paper follows up on an earlier one delivered at (LIDA) 2007 which outlined the introduction of e-book and e-audio collections to Libraries ACT, then the ACT Public Library, and reported on client reactions to the new service. With the e-book service now running for over five years, this paper will report on the development of the service, its uptake by the community and its future direction. Libraries ACT serves a population of over 360,000 with a reported 1.9 million users of the library in 2011 borrowing 2.9 million items. Of these borrowings, only a small percentage related to e-books or e-audio, downloadable to desktops or mobile devices. The size of the available e-collection has increased since the introduction of the service from 2,453 titles available in 2006 to 5,587 titles available at the beginning of 2012. This steady increase has not been without its challenges and these will be discussed in the context of the resources required to ensure an effective and efficient delivery and support system for an e-book and e-audio service. Circulation statistics will be analysed to identify the popularity of materials and anecdotal customer feedback will be assessed to gain an understanding of the level of acceptance with users and their view of the service. This will be compared to results on similar services and their uptake. Finally, the paper will consider future directions for the service and how it may evolve over the next few years.

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