Journals and Books

Should You Get Medical Books Via iBooks?

Sigh…. I hate ebooks.  I really do.  Dealing with ebooks is worse than refinancing your home loan.  Yeah the home loan has a ton of paperwork and dives into your private financial life, but the hoops you have jump through for ebooks makes me want to repeatedly bang my head on my desk.  (I’d bang it against my iPad but that cost too much to replace from repeated bangings.)

The article “Why you should avoid iBooks for your medical ebooks” on iMedicalApps is just another example of the frustration having to do with ebooks.  My major criticism about the post is that it isn’t news.  I mean really, is it a shocker that you can’t get your iBook somewhere other than your Apple device?  Does music and iTunes ring a bell to anyone?  This problem really isn’t unique to Apple and iBooks. What makes iBooks unique is that it doesn’t have an app that pretends to allow it to be read on another device.  You can’t download an iBook to an Android, Kindle, or Nook.  While that may be frustrating, at least most people should know that going in, which isn’t always the case with Kindle or Nook books.

First off… Downloadable ebooks are device dependent.  Don’t tell me that you can get a Kindle book on an iPad so Kindle books aren’t device dependent.  Pthbb.  I have the Kindle app on my iPad and there have been several times where I have wanted to read a Kindle book only to learn that certain Kindle book requires me to download it first to a USB or to my Kindle device.  Gee thanks, for making it a pain to get it on my iPad. 

All (with the exception of iBook) ebook platforms have free apps for reading their books on your “different” device.  But it isn’t always a simple to download and read the book as the cool television commercials or the apps claim.  It is a pain in the butt. 

If you get ebooks through your local public library the process can still be confusing.  Overdrive, a ”leading full-service digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital content,”  enables libraries and schools to provide downloadable books to their clients.  They have an app for downloading and reading books.  Supposedly this app makes it easier for people to download and read an ebook regardless of the ebook format and their device.  All I have to say about the Overdrive app is that it is still confusing to the average user.  I am a librarian for God’s sake and I find it  confusing at times. 

If you aren’t a public library, you might consider Mathews ebrary to offer downloadable ebooks.  However their platform is confusing and clunky, it is difficult to even find the title you want to download.  It doesn’t matter what titles they have if they are difficult to find.  I don’t know how easy it is to download the ebooks to your device because we never made it that far. 

See where I am going here?  I don’t care if you have a Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. I guarantee you that there will be a time when the title you want is only available in a format different from your device.  If you buy direct from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Apple, you run the risk that the book won’t work on your “different” device despite having the app.  Equally frustrating is that the “all in one” ebook reader services such as Overdrive and ebrary are confusing from the design side of things and confusing from the download side of things because they are dealing with ALL ebook types and devices. 

Next…. Institutional subscriptions to ebooks, specifically medical, may not be device dependent but they aren’t the answer either.  This is somewhat related to ebook format and platform problems but like all things bought at an institutional level, the problems are different. 

UnBound Medicine and Inkling are companies that provide access to download ebooks to institutional users.  While it is fairly easy, their titles are limited and can be quite expensive as some charge as if you are buying an individual copy for every person.  

Other ways institutions get their ebooks are through publisher electronic site packages.  These aren’t downloadable ebooks.  You can’t highlight a paragraph or take notes on the ebook because they all live on the web and you are accessing them through your wifi or cellular connection.  These are books within MDConsult/ClinicalKey, AccessMedicine, Ovid/LWW, Wiley, Springer, Rittenhouse, EBSCO etc.  While these books aren’t device dependent they are just as much of  pain, but for different reasons. 

They are all in their own publisher created silos so searching their full text is difficult if your library doesn’t have a discovery tool.  Even if your library has a discovery tool, ease of searching depends on the discovery tool’s set up and your resources’ set up. 

Users are unable to take notes on these book “pages” and at the same users are looking at these sites trying to find the downloadable version.  They now are expecting books to be downloadable.  They see it online and that is nice but then they ask how they can get that same book downloaded to their iPad or Kindle.  Short answer, you can’t.  Long answer…publishers either don’t want to do it or don’t have infrastructure to do it.  Theoretically Ovid or Springer could partner with Overdrive to get their books downloadable. But I’m sure there is more to it than just partnering like that.  I’m not sure if they are only interested in creating their own site for downloadable books or if they just aren’t interested.  ClinicalKey/MDConsult and AccessMedicine probably won’t do downloadable because their books are within their larger information database site.  In other words those sites have more than just the ebooks, they offer videos, patient information, images, etc. 

So you have these major barriers to using ebooks but you also have a group of people who despite the complications are interested in getting them.  What I find most misleading about the iMedicalApps post is that it is directed only at Apple’s iBooks when the problems with ebooks is pervasive and really a pain across all devices.  Quite frankly it is a miracle that users have stuck with trying to get ebooks this long.  We are a society that finds waiting more than 20 seconds for an elevator too long, how long are we going to wait for publishers to get their act together on ebooks?

Share on Facebook

5 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - December 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Categories: Electronic Access, Journals and Books, Technology   Tags:

Confusion on NLM’s Policies for PMC, PubMed, and MEDLINE Inclusion

Over at the Scholarly Kitchen, Kent Anderson writes of his frustrations regarding PMC, PubMed and MEDLINE and non indexed journals (particularly the start up journal eLife) in his post, “Something’s Rotten in Bethesda — The Troubling Tale of PubMed Central, PubMed, and eLife.”

I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with Anderson. 

I agree there is a big problem with the blurring of the lines in the minds of most people (mainly doctors and researchers) regarding PMC, PubMed and MEDLINE.  PubMed houses the citations for PMC articles as well as the citations to articles in journals indexed within MEDLINE.  The problem is that to most normal people PubMed = MEDLINE.  I mention the blurring of the lines between PubMed and MEDLINE in post “Back Door Method to Getting Articles in PubMed: Is Indexing so Important?“  In my post I mention that doctors and researchers think of PubMed and MEDLINE as the same. I likened it to ordering a cola.  ”PubMed and MEDLINE have become the Coke/Pepsi of medical databases.  Two different products but people use the terms interchangeably when ordering a cola soft drink.”  I even posted the email of a researcher friend further illustrating how they don’t distinguish between PubMed and MEDLINE and if the article is PMC it is in PubMed and that in their minds it is in MEDLINE.  At the time of my orginal post I questioned the point of actually indexing journal articles since researchers don’t search by index terms and they erroneously think PubMed is Medline.  All they have to do is get into PMC and it can be found in PubMed via keywords (which is how everybody searches these days).

Anderson’s main argument is NLM is acting as competitor to publishers and technology companies, by allowing certain journal publishers to bypass rules for inclusion into PMC and PubMed.  In his argument he brings up the journal eLife a “fledgling funder-backed journal” that was allowed include articles in PMC despite not having published the required 15 articles, not being indexed in MEDLINE, and PMC acting as the sole provider of the articles.  Not only is NLM circumventing the rules for inclusion to its databases but he believes that NLM is acting as the primary publisher to eLife because their articles can only be found on PMC.  Anderson uses JMLA and Journal of Biomolecular Techniques as other examples of journals that NLM acts as the primary publisher.  I don’t know anything about the Journal of Biomolecular Techniques but I disagree with JMLA serving as an example similar to eLife.  As I mention in my comment to his post on Scholarly Kitchen, JMLA has been around since 1911 so it has fulfilled the 15 article requirement and is published by a publisher (who is not PMC) and sends me the print 4 times a year. The journal is indexed in MEDLINE (since 2002).  Additionally the printed edition clearly states that the digital archives of JMLA are on PMC.  I went to PMC today (October 22, 2012) and the October 2012 issue is not available.  So the most recent issue is not online and PMC is acting as the a digital archive. Therefore NLM is not acting as the publisher of JMLA in the way he describes. In the case of JMLA NLM’s PMC is the secondary publisher that he describes, which is the case of many indexed MEDLINE journals. 

Unfortunatley I think Anderson’s argument misses a bigger issue.  The question of quality within the PubMed database.  As I mentioned there is confusion among PMC, PubMed, and MEDLINE.  People searching PubMed will find an article from the PMC that is in a journal that is not indexed in MEDLINE.  However people will erroneously think the article and and journal are in MEDLINE when in fact they are just in PMC.  By allowing non indexed journals into PMC, NLM is basically allowing a back door into PubMed, and by default into MEDLINE.  Of course NLM doesn’t see it as that, because they are one of the few people who can still see a distinction between PubMed and MEDLINE.  Their users (doctors and researchers) do not see the distinction.  To them PubMed is MEDLINE.  This calls into question the quality of the articles in PMC in journals that are not indexed in MEDLINE.   If the journal isn’t good enought to get into Medline then why is the article good enough to be found in PubMed? 

 

Share on Facebook

5 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - October 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Categories: Journals and Books, Medline, PubMed   Tags:

Notes from the #Medlibs Chat

Last Thursday (August 30, 2012) the #medlibs chat on Twitter discussed issues around ebooks.  The full transcript can be found here: http://bit.ly/O7yrh4 

We had a few new people join us in the discussion and some lurked, and we were glad to have them.  I want to thank everyone who participated, not only was it a great chat but you all made my job as moderator easy.

So what was discussed about ebooks?

  1. Findability – Most people reported this to be a big problem.  Some are using libguides to direct people to subject books. Some are cataloging them.  Others are doing web lists (either home grown or through EBSCO or Serials Solutions).  It seems that many are doing a combination of approaches that are sort of piecemeal and as @mscully66 mentioned ”it’s inefficient as all get out!”
  2. Usability – There was a bit of a disagreement whether findability impacted usability or whether usability was its own issue.  Some said if they can’t find it they can’t use it, while others like @RyloLH think “usability is it’s own issues.” Regardless of whether findability is a part of usability, everybody could agree that ebooks are not user friendly.  Many mentioned the confusing packages like Dynamed/Skyscape, user confusion over single user licensing vs unlimited access, and inability to download.  @CarolinaFan1982 believes  the download process as usage barrier, he thinks the “download process needs to be more like it is for books I get from the pub. library, relatively easy”
  3. Portability and Devices -CarolinaFan1982′s tweet segued nice to ebook portability and devices.  It seems the biggest issue was multiple platforms causing the problems.  Patrons don’t know what book is on what platform and if it can be downloaded from that platform and if so in what format.
  4. PDA (Patron Demand Acquisition) – I erroneously labeled PDA as Purchase on Demand Access (what can I say it was 9:40pm and the Cleveland Browns were playing in the background.) Lots of people mentioned they were experimenting or beginning to start trials on PDA.  I think the best tweet during this discussion was changing the name PDA to DDA. @jannabeth tweeted ”DDA = demand driven acquisition. We decided PDA had too many alternate meanings!” Many of us like using DDA instead of PDA.
  5. Usage – We finally discussed usage of ebooks.  A few discussed getting the usage stats on packages but not individual titles.  There was some interest in knowing the usage stats for individual titles within the larger packages.  

All in all it was a very interesting discussion.  I want to thank @eagledawg for giving me the opportunity to moderate, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.  I was just more nervous that I would forget so I set every reminder and alert possible so I could remember.   In fact I became so engrossed in the discussion that I lost my husband for a brief period of time.  Long story, but I found him again.

If participating in the #medlibs chats sounds interesting, we will be doing it again next Thursday 9/6 (and every Thursday) at 9pm est.  Join us!

Share on Facebook

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - September 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

Categories: Electronic Access, Journals and Books, Twitter   Tags:

Medlibs Twitter Chat: Everything eBooks

This week I will be moderating the medlibs Twitter discussion that will happen Thursday 8/30 at 9pm Eastern for 1 hour.  (I hope I do as well as Nikki!)

Last week, we discussed and shared a link to the book, Rethinking the Reference Collection: Exploring Benchmarks and E-Book Availability.  This week will look at ebooks a little more in depth and their use in general, not just the reference collection.

Some ideas for discussion can be:

  • Findability -What are the best ways for patrons to find stuff? The catalog, A-Z lists, other?
  • Usability – How easy are they for patrons to use?
  • Usage – Are they getting used?  What is appropriate usage stats?
  • Portability and Devices – Where are people using them and on what devices?
  • Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) – Who is doing this and what are your results?
  • Anything else that might be interesting

Anybody can join a medlibs chat, you don’t have to be a librarian, you just have to have an interest in the topic.  For more information on how to join a Twitter chat using hashtags check out this guide created by the usual moderator Nikki Dettmar.

I look forward to see you online this Thursday.  Even if you plan to lurk, please at least tweet us your name and where you are from (on Thursday at 9pm est.) so we can officially welcome you and answer any questions you might have.

Share on Facebook

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Categories: Electronic Access, Journals and Books, Technology, Twitter   Tags:

Organizing eBooks

I feel like I am beating a dead horse when I mention the topic of ebooks, but it is one of those topics that I just can’t put to rest.  The reason I can’t put it to rest is because ebooks are wanted by our users but they are pain in the neck for librarians, users, and probably publishers too.  Users want downloadable books and unless a library subscribes to something like UnboundMedicine (which can be very costly) there aren’t a lot of options.  Most of our ebook providers still provide ebooks only via the web (you need a Internet connection either via WiFi or cell tower) to view them and they certainly aren’t downloadable. In addition to these physical barriers of ebooks, just finding them can be a challenge. 

 

Finding ebooks is like wandering through a maze but without the cool pattern.

Finding an ebook is like wandering through a maze but without the cool pattern.  In order to find an ebook medical library patrons must navigate the catalog or the web page or know the silo their specific title is hosted.  They run into more dead ends and switchbacks that it is frustrating and deafeating. Why?

The catalog is dead (but that is another blog post).  Users just really don’t search it.  They search Google or they will slog through the library website looking for ebooks to magically be listed.  We have so many ebooks from different vendor packages (McGraw Hill Access databases, StatRef, Ovid, Wiley, Springer, MDConsult, etc.) and it is pretty much impossible to create and maintain an accurate web list of the ebooks.We used to keep up  a web page on a title and subject basis  but with hundreds of titles (thousands once you add in OhioLink) the web list was impossible to maintain.  We also used to list our ebooks providers. We had a web page detailing that ebooks could be found at the following sites (then lsited all of the vendors like AccessMedicine, Ovid, StatRefe, etc.)   That wan’t helpful.  Users have no clue where each title is housed, so they don’t know to “just click on AccessMedicine to view the online version of Harrison’s.”  The big web page with links to AccessMedicine, AccessSurgery, OvidBooks, StatRef, Wiley, MDConsult, Safari Tech Books, was not helpful. 

Unfortunately we learned that we were thinking too much like a librarian when we tried to direct people to our ebooks.  What do I mean by this?  If you aren’t a cataloger think back to library school cataloging, and if you are a cataloger I appologize for my crude cataloging example.  We librarians have been ingrained to provide as many discover points to a resource that we can.  When we catalog a book we do it to the exact specific subjects (thus making a general subject search difficult) and we add all sorts of added titles, authors, subjects, etc. to make it more findable.  The idea is sound for cataloging, but it is VERY bad for web design and discoverability.  

We recently conducted a user survey of our website.  We knew it needed to be redesigned but we wanted to know how our users were trying to find things in order to create a better site.  The one thing that was stated repeatedly was that users did NOT want multiple ways for finding things.  They wanted one straight shot way and that was it.  As librarians we were brought up to try and think of all the ways people might try to find something and make it findable in those ways.  We designed our web pages that way.  It turns out our users viewed the multiple ways just like navigating a giant maze.  The added paths did not aid in discoverablity they just served as switchbacks causing user navigation confusion.

Because ebooks are in different silos and our users have abandoned the catalog, it is difficult to provide one single easy way of searching and accessing anything beyond a very small collection of ebooks.  EBSCO A-Z does now keep track of ebooks.  But that is such a new feature (released in 2011 or 2012) it is still really too new to be effective.  Batch uploading doesn’t keep author or subject changes/additions.  Information from the publishers is sometimes missing making the author search a crap shoot. We have consolidated the various ways users can find our ebooks down to two ways; search the catalog or search EBSCO A-Z.  Neither method is exactly ideal, somethings are in the catalog that aren’t in A-Z and somethings are in A-Z that aren’t in the catalog.  It isn’t the best method for finding ebooks, but it is an improvement over the multitude of ways we provided.  Still because I know my users are looking for ONE way to find ebooks, I am always trying to find out how other libraries best to do that. 

So how do patrons find your ebooks?  What methods are working?  What isn’t working?  Do they use your catalog?  If so how did you get them to use it and how do you keep up with the ebook changes?  Let me know your thoughts because I can’t be the only one banging my head against a wall when looking at ebook discoverablity.

Share on Facebook

18 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

Categories: Electronic Access, Journals and Books   Tags:

ClinicalKey Brief Review

Over on iMedicalApps.com I wrote a brief review on ClinicalKey.  The post is direct more towards doctors rather than librarians but it is worth a read through for librarians. 

Over here I thought I would include a few things that librarians might find interesting about ClinicalKey.

I have to say that the front page of ClinicalKey where it has two large squares “For Institutions” and “For Individuals” kind of confusing.  While testing the product we had a couple of librarians who kept clicking the “For Institutions” square to try and search the product.  But they were confused because they kept getting into information about ClinicalKey for Institutions.  They thought they were supposed to click the “For Insitutions” button to search because they were in an institution.  We had to explain to them you just type in the box and hit the search button.  As a a librarian who often fields questions from users, I have a feeling this will be confusing for our users.  I am not sure which blue box they will click on but the boxes are just so large and so close to the search box it implies there are different accounts for different users.  I understand Elsevier wants to market ClinicalKey to both groups, perhaps they can find a less confusing design to do that.

Access to PDFs currently is a two step process for users.  Recently (just after I submit my write up to iMedicalApps) Elsevier required an additional login to access the PDFs.  Basically users must create a personal login and password to access the PDFs even while on the insitutional account.  If you have read my blog or followed me on Twitter for any amount of time you will know that requiring additional logins to common (not customized) content is a barrier to usage.  Patrons understand if they want to save articles, images, or customize the content they have to create a personal login.  Patrons do NOT understand the need to create a personal login to access regular content just to read. 

They are often dissatisfied with this additional login and they do one if not several of these things:

  1. Don’t use it. They quit, they don’t bother trying to get the PDF.
  2. Yell at the library because “we don’t have the PDFs” because it is asking for additional login.
  3. Get confused and try using every other login under the sun that they know.
  4. Repeatedly call the library for the special login (which we don’t have because it is a personal login).

The big thing is though, users won’t use it.  Plain and simple.  Plenty of librarians have usage data to back this statement up.  Creating a login to view the PDFs is a barrier. 

Now it is also a barrier for copyright piracy, which is one of the main reasons Elsevier has instituted the PDF personal login requirement.  They are also using the login information to generate usage statistics. They said that this information could help us understand usage but I am unsure as to what usage statistics we as librarians really care about that are the personal login level.  Really all I care about is overall usage, resource usage (which books & journals are being used), etc. 

There have been some librarians who have expressed their displeasure over the PDF personal login requirement.  As a result Elsevier has said they are investigating other alternatives.  I look forward to them making alternative adjustments so that they can eliminate the personal login requirement.

Librarians are going to have really look at their needs and what they want.  ClincalKey is a very nice (almost) all inclusive Elsevier product.  Subscribers get 900 book titles, almost all of the Elsevier journals (Nursing is not in ClinicalKey) and a ton of videos and images from the Elsevier books.  However as I mentioned in the iMedicalApps article, ClinicalKey is a bit like trying to take a drink of water from fire hydrant, there is that much Elsevier information.  As a result, institutions barely using MDConsult or find MDConsult to a lot of information, might be ovewhelmed by not only the price but amount of content.  Institutions looking to subscribe to ClinicalKey really should have ways to manage the amount of information because it would be silly or downright negligent to not have an link resolver to handle finding all of the ejournals, an established method to handle finding the ebooks (whether it is your catalog, home grown system, or a link resolver that does ebooks).  If you don’t have an easy way to manage the fire hydrant of information then you shouldn’t be getting ClinicalKey in its present form. 

Other things that I think need to be addressed are downloading (for appropriate use) of ebooks and how they are dealing with the FirstConsult app. 

The writing is on the wall, the horse has left the stable, use whatever metaphor you want but users are now expecting to download ebooks to their iPads to read offline.  This needs to be build into the system.  FirstConsult isn’t the only product that hasn’t done this, McGraw Hill’s Access databases, Ovid, etc. have not figured out how to create a ebook product that will check out books for download to users.  I am not sure how they do that while still keeping it within the larger product like ClinicalKey or AccessMedicine, but this is something that must be addressed now because users expect this. 

I realize ClinicalKey is too new to really have an idea as to what they are doing regarding apps.  But there should be some sort of statement or direction as to whether the FirstConsult app will continue on as is, or whether they will change things and make it more of a ClinicalKey app with FirstConsult.  Like the downloadable ebook market this is an area where our uses have specific expectations. 

Those of you who have tried or bought ClinicalKey what are your thoughts?  Those of you who don’t have it and don’t plan to get it what are your thoughts and reasons? Write a comment either here or on iMedicalApps
Thoughts on extra login for PDF and Librarian’s thoughts on ClinicalKey.

Share on Facebook

3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - August 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

Categories: Databases, Electronic Access, Journals and Books   Tags:

Free Webinar on AMA Titles

As you all know AMA moved their online platform to Silverchair recently.  Now you have the opportunity to attend a free webinar to “Discover the New JAMA Network Online”  The webinar is August 2, 2012, 10 am CST/11 am EDT. 

The webinar will have representatives from the AMA and Silverchair to answer your questions about the recent transition to Silverchair’s SCM6 platform and demonstrate the latest enhancements to jamanetwork.com, including:

  • How to use the Administrator Dashboard
  • How to access usage reports
  • How to maximize search results

Speakers include Matt Herron, Vida Damijonaitis, and Betsy Solaro from the AMA and Kate Nikkel and Joy Moore from Silverchair.

Register at http://bit.ly/MWw6nq it is free.

Share on Facebook

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Categories: Educational Opportunities, Electronic Access, Journals and Books, Other Medical Library Stuff   Tags:

More on the Open Access Debate

An interesting article was recently published in US News and World Report about traditional publishing, open access publishing, libraries, and money. “Is the Academic PUblishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption?” looks at the various problems and potentials of open access publishing and it impact on traditional publishing, libraries, funding of research, etc.

The open access debate is very contentious and quite frankly I don’t know enough about both sides of the issue to make an intelligent comment for or against either side.  My only comment is that if this author’s information is true and 80% of publishers’ income is from libraries then something needs to be done quickly because we (libraries) cannot continue buying.  As Jean Shipman mentions in the Comments, library budgets have been shrinking. When will we get to a tipping point when the publishing houses fail to make 30-40% profits because 80% of the market can’t afford them?  We are very close.  I believe I will see this happen in my career.  What becomes of it, I don’t know.

Unfortunately this article is just on open access publishing, but the problem is bigger than that.  Many libraries subscribe to non-traditional resources such as DynaMed, UpToDate, FirstConsult, VisualDx, Primal Pictures, etc. that are not journals.  They are point of care guides, image systems, etc. that are also very expensive to subscribe to and continue to increase in price.  They are in our budget and we can’t afford them just like we can’t afford the online journals.

It is a mess.

Share on Facebook

2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

Categories: Electronic Access, Journals and Books, Other Medical Library Stuff   Tags:

Free eBooks Webinar

ALA TechSource has a free webinar, “Introducing the Book as an iPad App” on July 23, 2012 at 2:00pm est. 

Brief description from ALA TechSource:

iPads are everywhere. Some publishers are experimenting with a new kind of book, published as an app. These books are distinct from the mostly-text ebooks you might read with the Kindle or Nook apps. Drawing from all the functionality of the iPad platform, creators may extend the book, presenting a new immersive experience for readers. As hybrids mixing elements of film, videogames, and social media in with the text traditional to the book, this new kind of book challenges the notion of what a book is. For librarians, they offer new opportunities in evaluation, selection, and services.

The webinar will probably be more geared toward public library and possibly academic libraries but it is free and might be worth attending to see how ebooks are evolving for libraries.  I think public libraries have a better handle on ebooks than medical libraries so perhaps there are some things that we should be looking at and aware of for our situation. 

If you are interested you need to register.  Go to:

http://ala-publishing.informz.net/ala-publishing/archives/archive_2498470.html

Share on Facebook

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 17, 2012 at 10:19 am

Categories: Educational Opportunities, Electronic Access, Journals and Books   Tags:

My Loser Boyfriend: eBooks

As much as I love ebooks and technology, they are like a crummy loser boyfriend.  Full of ups and downs that take you on a roller coaster of emotions only leaving you to love them one minute and hate them the next.  Just like that loser boyfriend they have money issues and sometimes I find myself humming Joan Jett, “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” when dealing with them.

Love: 

  • They are available whenever, wherever, and can’t be stolen, lost, or damaged.
  • Using ebooks I can provide information to patrons across the hospital at the time of need and they don’t have to come to the library.
  • Many ebooks can be updated more often than traditional print books.

Hate:  

  • The distribution of medical ebooks is STILL behind the public library model (and while the public library model isn’t that spectactular it runs circles around what we have). 
  • Publishers who require an ADDITIONAL logins if you are using a smart phone.  It is confusing to patrons, they don’t understand why they are being asked for a password when they are on the hospital network.  In this instance they don’t think of their phone any differently than a lap top. (ahem MDConsult/Elseveier)
  • Many ebooks are stuck in publisher silos, can’t be searched effectively.  No NORMAL person knows to go directly to StatRef to search, then AccessMedicine, then MDConsult, etc.  They just know they want a book on a topic and they want to type in the topic somewhere and be presented with a list of ALL the ebooks that has their topic.  Some librarians say…ah use the catalog.  Ptthbbb, ever try searching for a chapter topic or something else within the content of the book in the catalog?  It sucks.

Money:

  • Few companies have a few book titles that can be downloaded to a mobile device but they are way too expensive because we have to BUY the book and they don’t have a circulating model plan (ala public libraries).   Large publisher’s with books we need and pay lots of money for can’t be downloaded to any mobile device, they are web enabled…yeah patrons love hearing that. 
  • I get the idea that an online book is more expensive than in print because it can be viewed by many, but if one online title is a 1/3 of my book budget, I can’t buy it no matter how much I want to have it online.
  • We all are either scraping by on less budget or a flat budget while just trying to keep current library resources that keep getting more expensive. I have no flexibility to “try” your new product.  I don’t care if it is cool and it addresses a need, I can’t afford it.  The price might be reasonable or it might be whack-a-doodle but I still can’t afford it without dropping something.  My wish list is a mile long and it isn’t getting shorter with items that are reasonable (as well as whack-a-doodle) pricing. 

Right now we are all searching for the Mr. Right of ebooks.  Part of the difficulty is that Mr. Right for me might be Mr. Wrong for somebody else.  But our potential boyfriends (the publishers) need to step it up considerably if they want to be Mr. Right for any library because it seems many of us are unhappy and currently settling for Mr. Right Now.  

This what my patrons want (therefore this what I want):

  • eBook platforms that work on lap tops AND are downloadable to a mobile device (not web enabled to a mobile device).
    • We need the core chunk of titles that we are CURRENTLY buying from you, don’t increase the price so that one dinky little title is $2000 online and a established plain ol’ text (not a even a reference book) is $15,000.  That my friends, is whack-a-doodle pricing. We don’t buy online books like that now, making it “downloadable” at that price is not going to change our mind or our budget.
      • For example AccessMedicine, MDConsult, Ovid get your ebook platforms that we are already buying downloadable….now!
  • We are very open to the circulation model of ebooks.  Public libraries are doing it and our patrons seem to understand that concept. This is a nice alternative to buying the title and should be cheaper than buying the title.  Think of it as renting.
    • We need a collection of decent titles. Not a pittance of specialty books.  We need/want the Harrison’s, Hurst’s, DeVita’s, etc.  We need real titles, don’t shove your Big Toe Science book in there, unless we are podiatrists we don’t want them and won’t buy them.
  • Eliminate the artificial barriers for access.  We do a VERY good job of maintaining proper access to our online resources (becasue your license agreements require us).  We know better than you do who our patrons are and when to cut them off, so let us do our jobs and stop putting up extra logins while people are on network or proxied.  If our patrons get confused, they don’t use, if they don’t use we don’t buy. Plain and simple, extra loggins affect our usage stats (negatively) and we don’t buy or drop your stuff if our usage stats go down.  Remember we have wish list a mile long waiting for weakness in a product. 

Some day I hope that I am able to look back at ebooks like I do at my old loser boyfriends; a phase that I had to go through in order to meet Mr. Right.

Share on Facebook

10 comments - What do you think?  Posted by KraftyLibrarian - July 10, 2012 at 11:25 am

Categories: Electronic Access, iPad, Journals and Books, SmartPhones   Tags:

« Previous PageNext Page »