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  •  Public Policy vs Traditionalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluehawk

    If the goal is to deliver as much GOOD free information to as many people as possible the only barrier is copyright law.  The traditional ability of libraries to hold and distribute actual physical copies of books can and should be transferred to digital copies in a process that is not onerous.  

    The now defunct and thoroughly copyright infringing library.nu provided all the resources of a university research library, and finding a relevant book was as simple as a good search.  The pure triviality of finding exactly what one needed was a testament to its efficiency.  I work on a college campus.  The library was strictly inferior to the website.  

    E-readers are now cheaper than many books.

    I feel the public would be better served if libraries served as free public internet access points, distributors of licensed content from a resource as vast as library.nu possessed, server farms and all, and a low-cost place to rent e-readers.  At 119 dollars the kindle white can be rented out at cents a day.  It's not as free.  But it is damn cheap.

    •  I think that e-readers have a place (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharesay, RosyFinch

      and it's an important place, but I think that the idea that they're going to replace print for the hugest number of people anytime soon is silly.

      Libraries need to provide access for a hugely varied swath of the public, including those who would frankly be flat intimidated by e-readers. And they have to do it with an eye toward the durability and long-term use of any given form of content -- they can't just go swapping around into formats that will be obsolete quickly or be easily damaged by somebody spilling their coffee -- yes, that harms a physical book, too, but that's not nearly as huge a hit.

      You can bill them, but if you're going to bill somebody for a damaged, lost, or stolen kindle or whatever, the reality is that most are not able to pay and simply won't go to the library ever again. Christ, I know people who haven't gone to the library for years over shame about $10 in fines, or a lost book that wasn't worth much in the first place.  

      I agree with you on copyright, and I would totally support libraries checking out some e-readers and being able to distribute a much wider array of content that way without weird copyright crap. But I think that the libraries have already become a little much on the "internet access" and too few physical materials in some places, to be honest. Books are the single most accessible form of this stuff for the vast majority of the public, and adding audiobooks to that, even moreso.

      •  They're more durable than you think. (0+ / 0-)

        Mine's been dropped, tossed across a room, it's dented, it's scratched, it's had beer spilled on it countless times, it's never out of my hands (and I'm CLUMSY), and I even read the thing while walking the rain.  It still works flawlessly.  My mom loves hers and she's fairly tech illiterate.  I've seen four year olds using tablets.  I've never seen a four year old using the indexing system at a library.  They're more obtuse.  

        It's obviously not a major agenda item...getting even the poor as plugged in as possible, and making pluggin' in as empowering as possible.  The government bends to parties seeking to extract as much capital as they can on their intellectual property.  People who can't donate money to political campaigns rarely see their needs met.  But that does not preclude the need of our libraries to adapt to stay relevant, to meet the educational needs of our underprivileged in the modern era.  Libraries have historically functioned as a modern database.  And modern databases are cheaper.  And more efficient timewise in delivering relevant products for the simple reason that it takes a while to physically walk to and then find a book.  Imagine if every reference on wikipedia were available to anyone, any time!  Where the difference in cost is that of the production of a book vs the copying of a four megabyte file.  

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