May a library lend e-book readers?

images.jpegThe Library Law Blog asks this question and pretty much decides that the library probably can’t.

According to the licenses that come with the iPad you cannot “rent, lease, lend, sell, reidstribute or sublicense the iPad Software”. By lending the iPad to a patron the library is also lending the software, which is prohibited.

As to the Kindle, the Kindle license allows use of the digital content on the device “solely for personal, non-commercial use”. Of course a library is not making “personal” use of a book that it buys on a Kindle for lending purposes.

What’s a library to do?

17 Comments on May a library lend e-book readers?

  1. Felix Torres // June 24, 2010 at 2:32 pm //

    Well, given that most libraries’ ebook lending infrastructure is via Overdrive using Adobe ADE, should we be looking at the licensing terms of Readers built around Adobe DRM?
    Like Nook? Sony? Bookeen? Pocketbook? Astak?
    I’m fairly certain any of the latter three would be quite happy to become the “reader of choice” of any regional library system. (B&N and Sony? Hard to tell, big corporate legal departments don’t usually come with much aggregate common sense.)

    The both Pocketbook and Astak maintain solid corporate representation on Mobileread so a quick question there would quickly bring an answer straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

    All it takes is a link to this post and we’ll have an answer.

  2. This sounds like lawyers being lawyerly, and too literal. It also sounds like one of those end user contracts that would be overturned in court, should any company like Apple decide to sue.

    Imagine if Apple sued you for ‘lending’ your iPad to your children!

    — asotir

  3. This is complete nonsense, and shows what happens to people when they don’t get out enough.

    Libraries have been lending e-book reading devices for ten years; see “Don’t Be Afraid of E-Books” in LIBRARY JOURNAL for April 15, 2000.

    Overdrive’s service is much more useful for most people, and has become the method of choice, as library budgets strictly limit the number of pieces of hardware they can afford.

  4. Seems inconceivable that Apple intended prohibition of lending an iPad to someone.

    More importantly, seems inconceivable (as pointed out) that Apple would not LOVE libraries to buy iPads and use them so people get hooked by iPads.

  5. Personally I just see the problem. What were Libraries set up for and to do ? To make books accessible to people who don’t have the money to buy them or access quality education. Roughly speaking that is.
    I really see no reason why Libraries need to get into this whole e-book issue. There is no surge of books ONLY available in ebook format. As far as I know pretty much all books are still in hard back.
    So Libraries should stick to what they are good at – lending hard back books to people who need them – and not get so concerned by the whole ebook issue.

  6. Typo above. I meant to write “Personally I just DON’T see the problem”

  7. I suspect that some bright soul will come up with a solution like Playaway: a very cheap e-reader that holds only a single digital book. Then each e-book will be individually licensed for use.

  8. Felix Torres // June 27, 2010 at 8:20 pm //

    @Howard: The modern library is a whole lot more than a community bookshelf.
    One of their functions is to act as a supplementary education center and providing access to emerging technologies–filling-in the digital divide in buzzword-speak– is very much in line with that mission. It follows in the tradition of lending out CDs, DVDs, audiobooks (and players), of providing internet access and even adult-education programs.

    The issue with modern libraries isn’t that they don’t offer the right services, rather that the people that most need them often don’t use them.

  9. @Howard: Felix Torres is correct. A book I would recommend which details the library of today is This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson.

  10. Mary and Felix – I simply don’t agree with either of you. Libraries should concentrate on their core purpose and not get distracted by this new politically correct ‘digital divide’ nonsense.
    My local library loans CD’s DVD and it is common knowledge that everyone borrows to copy. It’s that simple. There is no societal benefit to loaning music CDs or movie DVDs. Diverting limited budgets to computers/internet is in my opinion a tragedy for the main business of libraries, which is encouraging/ enabling more reading.
    Books are too important. Leave this digital divide issue to another organisation.

  11. Philip van Zijl // June 28, 2010 at 7:13 pm //

    Dear Howard,

    Libraries have always moved with the times: using your argument, there should be no AVM, computers, Electronic data bases – should I go on? The survival of libraries have always been the ability to move with the times, otherwise we would still only have had scrolls on our shelves…

    Philip

  12. Philip I respect your opinion. I disagree. Libraries have spent far too much scarce resources on internet access, CDs, DVDs and should stick with lending hard copy books.

  13. Philip van Zijl // June 29, 2010 at 5:58 pm //

    Libraries have never been about the format, it is about the content and that is driven by the patron.

    Philip

  14. I agree with Philip on this one. Libraries are so much more than a repository for hard copy books. As cultural institutions we need to reflect and respect the way in which that culture is disseminated. The latest vehicle in this regard, is the eReader. The vehicle is perhaps not as important as the content – but patrons want accessibility and ease of use. If I go away on holiday, hands down I would take an eReader over a suite of hard copy books.

  15. Philip van Zijl // June 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm //

    The future role of libraries, eloquently put, in a conference keynote speaker announcement:

    “From one extreme to the next, from the past to the future, from the fumigation of books to discussing the real challenges that libraries and the library profession are facing and the strategies we need to employ to ensure our success in our own and other learning communities. The Centennial Conference Committee is delighted to announce Stephen Abram as one of the keynote speakers for the LIANZA [Library and Information Association of Aotearoa New Zealand] Centennial Conference in Dunedin where he will deliver a future focused address to inspire and focus delegates.

    Stephen was listed by Library Journal as one of the top 50 people influencing the future of libraries and has received numerous honours. He holds audiences hostage for about 150 speeches a year, writes all or parts of 6 books a year, posts thousands of blog postings and writes about 36 articles a year. His columns appear in Information Outlook and Multimedia and Internet @ Schools, and he is the author of ALA Editions 2007 bestseller, Out Front with Stephen Abram. He blogs at the popular Stephen’s Lighthouse.

    Stephen says that we are well into the new Millennium and the challenges facing libraries are reaching an exponential roar. It’s the information age, there must be a huge role for libraries, right? What are the real challenges facing libraries and the library profession? Is it Google and the web, or is it what it’s always been – lighting the darkness with information? What are the top strategies we need to employ to ensure our success in our communities and learning institutions? Will advertising driven search engines really win the hearts and minds of our customers? Are our collections right for today or will use of Google’s vaults of digitized books grow wildly in importance? Are libraries and librarians ready for the next round of technological and social change? Will our local and national cultures be overwhelmed by generic world services? Stephen as always will deal with these issues in a provocative and entertaining manner.

    Further information is available at: http://www.conference.co.nz/index.cfm/Lianza10/Keynote_Speakers

  16. Howard, I respectfully disagree that libraries are or shoul be only about books. Libraries are about knowledge and knowledge is no longer only found on printed and bound sheets of paper.

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