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Ereaders as library books

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    I have joined the low-residency MFA program at Miami University, where Hoa Nguyen and Laura Van Prooyen are the poetry mentors.  These poets join the experimental-minded poetry faculty in Miami’s residential MFA program, Keith Tuma, Cathy Wagner, and cris cheek for an intimate poetics program well-versed in the history of experimental poetry and performance. […]

One of our faculty suggested that I buy a few ereaders for the library, load them with all the free (Project Gutenberg & the like) books, and loan them like library books.  I think this is an intriguing idea, but there are a lot of potential problems that I’m trying to work out before I spend the money.

  • Theft/loss/destruction. As with a library book, the replacement cost of the ereader would be charged to the student. However, our school has a range of income levels, and those who could afford to replace an ereader probably already have their own. And for some reason, theft, loss and destruction are pretty common here.  We “lose” a lot of books.
  • Charges. I would have to figure out how to keep the ereader borrower from buying new ebooks through our account without permission. I imagine that if I got Kindles, there is some way of hacking it to prevent new purchases, but I’m not sure.
  • Librarianship. I would go with the Nook because it’s compatible with Overdrive. Our library doesn’t have that, but the two county library systems where most of our students are residents do.  With the Nook, they would have access to many more volumes in their libraries. (The Kindle encourages buying; the Nook encourages lending.)
  • Future developments. Our school is thinking of going to iPad or an Android tablet in the near future (i.e. all students would be required to have one for classroom use). This would make separate ereaders redundant.  However, this plan hasn’t been ironed out.

Has anyone encountered ereaders as library books in their library? Can it be done successfully?

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2 Comments

  1. Meg Knodl says:

    I know the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN) loans Kindles with content. They worked with Amazon to figure out the configuration. Otherwise there’s another point to consider: violation of terms of use.

    • Right. Well, right after I wrote this post the OverDrive news came out, so I think we’re just going to get OverDrive. Then the kids can use whatever devices they already have.

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