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76% of US Libraries Offer eBooks, Nearly 2 in 5 Lend eReaders

7413758502_b9b95654cb[1]The major publishers might not be all that interested in selling ebooks to libraries but the feeling is not mutual. The American Library Association released their annual state of the library report today, and in spite of the lack of publisher support the adoption of ebooks and ereaders is up. Over three-quarters of American libraries reported in the survey that they lend ebooks, up from 67% in the previous survey.  The libraries are now using a wide variety of vendors, including ebrary, 3M Cloud library, Axis360, as well as others.

A growing number of libraries are also lending ereaders to their patrons. The report showed that 39% of the 7,200 plus libraries surveyed lent ereaders, up from 28% in the previous survey. That is a remarkable increase, and  I can also confirm this anecdotally. I have seen a number of news reports over the past few months of libraries announcing new ereader collections, including newly purchased Nook Touch ereaders.

This report also shows that more Americans than ever are using their libraries, and libraries are working to meet that demand. Over 91% of US libraries now offer free Wifi and internet, with 62% indicating that they were the only source of free internet access in their communities. Some are even considering following in the footsteps of BiblioTech, the bookless public library located in Bexar County. That library is still on schedule to open in Fall 2013, and it will stock ereaders and tablets for patrons to use or check out as well as a sizable ebook collection.

The data in this report comes from the annual survey which is conducted every Fall, so it is fairly out of date by this point. But even with the age issue this report is sill useful in providing a snapshot of library use.


image by Muffet

About Nate Hoffelder (11123 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

6 Comments on 76% of US Libraries Offer eBooks, Nearly 2 in 5 Lend eReaders

  1. Aren’t these libraries who just purchased the Nook Simple Touch going to get sued (like the Philadelphia Free Library and the Sacramento ) for violation of the ADA?

  2. That’s what I am expecting, but apparently they don’t think so.

  3. I just heard tonight that a small local public library in the small college town a hopskipjump down the road from my small non-college town saw a 179-percent increase in ebook lending last year. This was in the library director’s report to the local city council. The library uses Overdrive, AND loans out individual ebook readers; two Sony’s, two Kindles, two Nooks.
    When the students are gone over the summer, there are about 10,000 residents in the town. About 7,000 students live on campus nine months out of the year, and another 4,000 or so commute to the school. The library has free public wi-fi, and the college has nearly campus wide wi-fi, but you have to be a student or staff member to log on to the system.

    And no one has sued the library yet :-)
    The library does, however, loan out those new-ish audiobooks that are MP3 based. I forget what they are called off-hand, but there is basically one audiobook file on a play-only device (that is, non-recordable) about the size of a deck of cards.
    Actually, for a small town library, they are really up on their tech compared to others I have seen.

  4. The audiobooks sound like Playaway hardware.

  5. Yep, that’s it — Playaway.

    Could NOT remember that for the life of me….

  6. The 2014 ALA State of Libraries report says the case was settled in favor of open access through the Library of Congress:

    “A victory for the visually impaired and the disabled
    Finally, in September 2013, the Library of Congress announced that those who are blind, visually impaired, or have a physical disability can download audio and braille books to their i-device if they are registered with the Library of Congress’s National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Yes, there’s an app for that, available free through the Apple App Store; it allows access through local cooperating libraries to almost 50,000 books, magazines, and music scores in audio and braille formats, with new selections added daily. ”

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