The King County Library System, which operates the and libraries, and the Seattle Public Library have joined more than 90 libraries in supporting ReadersFirst, a coordinated effort to improve e-book services for public library users.
“The King County Library System circulates more e-book content than any other library in the country,” said KCLS Director Bill Ptacek. “We believe it is essential to offer current titles in digital formats as part of effective modern library services.”
ReadersFirst wants library users to have the same easy and free access to e-books that they currently enjoy with physical books. E-book vendors who sell to libraries currently restrict what titles they offer to libraries and control how patrons access e-books.
To change this practice, ReadersFirst has four requirements it wants e-book vendors to offer library users:
- The ability to search and browse a single comprehensive catalog with all of a library’s offerings at once, including all e-books, physical collections, programs, blogs, and donor opportunities. Currently, content providers often only allow searches within the products they sell, depriving users of the comprehensive library experience.
- The ability to place holds, check-out items, view availability, manage fines and receive communications within individual library catalogs without having to visit separate websites (libraries, not distributors, should be enabled to manage all interactions with users).
- The ability to seamlessly enjoy a variety of e-content. To do this, libraries must be able to choose content, devices and apps from any provider or from multiple providers, without bundling that limits a library’s ability to serve content they purchase on platforms of their choice.
- The ability to download e-books that are compatible with all readers, from the Kindle to the Nook to the iPad and other devices.
“We are always trying to deliver the best resources in the formats our patrons need and expect,” said Seattle City Librarian Marcellus Turner. “Continuing to advocate for better digital material is critical for our users. By joining with the King County Library System and other major library systems across the United States, we raise awareness in our communities and provide a louder voice in a nationwide, library effort in pursuing these important changes.”
To read the full ReadersFirst statement and view a list of participating libraries, visit readersfirst.org.
Information from King County Library System