Monday, April 13, 2009

The Mainstreaming of e-Books in Our Library

eBooks @ Adelaide

I recently added over 1300 ebook records to the library catalog from the eBooks @ Adelaide (University of Adelaide, Australia) website.

To access the books search for the series "eBooks @ Adelaide" (from home; from school). This will bring up the entire list of 1306 titles. Most of these books are older and therefore are out of copyright and many are available on such sites as Gutenberg and Bibliomania. The nice thing about the Adelaide e-books is that they provide downloadable MARC records which are the records librarians use in online catalogs. The records are not great and require some tweeking to make them really useful but their availability certainly makes the task of getting the records into the catalog and therefore accessible to the library patron a very simple task.

Once you've opened the record you just click on the link which says "Connect to e-book online" or, for records which haven't been modified, on the URL, to get to the online text. Authors in the collection range alphabetically from Edwin Abbott to Emile Zola and chronologically from Homer to Orwell. This collection will enable the library patron to access many books which we don't actually have on the shelves and electronically many we do have even when they aren't physically in the library. One advantage of e-books is the ability of two or more patrons to simultaneously use the same book.

The eBooks @ Adelaide website allows the user to browse titles by author, title, chronologically, and thematically and allows for full-text searches of all the books on the site. The books are also available as zip files to download to the user's own device for reading offline as well.

Also recently discovered a new e-book resource on the website which provides access to full-text books as well. Engaging the World is the new public face of the U.S. Dept. of State to the international community and presents quite a change from the previous administration. One of the missions of the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs is to present the United States to the rest of the world as well as its own citizens. Some recently published titles include Being Muslim in America, Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom, Dreams of Edgar Allan Poe, Free at Last: The Civil Rights Movement, Sketchbook USA, and American Popular Music. While these books might be considered propaganda they also give the reader an opportunity to see what the U.S. government considers important for the world to understand about us.

Another publication available on the site is an electronic journal. Recent topics of the e-journal, which is thematic, include the movie business, American teenagers, the changing English language, and college education in the U.S.

The publications from this site are available for downloading as pdf documents and are available in a variety of languages including Russian, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

As e-books become more and more ubiquitous and accessible I expect all of us will be reading more and more online.

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