Information Update - Spring 2001

From the Library Director

The world of electronic books is upon us. The term eBook applies to published materials, such as reference books, scholarly monographs, and consumer books that have been converted into digital format for electronic distribution. EBooks are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week by clicking on netLibrary under “Electronic Indexes” on the Weinberg Library web page. Titles will also appear in the Online Public Catalog.
We are taking our first steps into the world of ebooks with a small collection of academic titles provided by netLibrary. This company provides a wide range of scholarly, reference, and professional titles from many of the world's leading commercial publishers and university presses. They also have made a large number of public domain titles available to users.
After locating an eBook online, library users have the option of viewing or borrowing the eBook. By borrowing an eBook, users will have exclusive access to the book during the check-out period. EBooks are automatically checked back into the netLibrary collection when the check-out period expires. When an eBook is checked out, the netLibrary system displays a message indicating that the eBook is not available.
NetLibrary has developed mechanisms for limiting the copying and printing of eBooks from the Internet. Users can copy or print single pages, just as people can photocopy single pages of a printed book.
Enjoy! We look forward to your feedback.
The rapid growth of eBooks and other electronic databases creates even greater challenges with database licensing. Newly proposed state legislation, UCITA, is aimed at making shrink-wrap and click-on license agreements legally binding. Several consumer and business groups, along with the Federal Trade Commission, have serious concerns with this legislation. Libraries are concerned because UCITA poses a threat to free speech, fair use, preservation, and the license negotiation process.
Libraries, of course, are heavily involved in licensing for electronic resources. In many instances, librarians have been at the bargaining table, negotiating not only price, but also specific access terms such as number of simultaneous users, dial up access, and fair use printing and downloading. Libraries with a bit more clout and more buying power or large library consortiums have been able to strike some good deals with vendors and publishers. Other libraries have not been as fortunate and often find themselves just accepting high prices or overly restrictive license terms because they don't have the resources, time or expertise necessary to pound out a better contract deal.
At this point in time, we do not know the extent to which libraries and library users are clicking on non-negotiated licenses. Hopefully the American Library Association will develop a mechanism for collecting this kind of data now, so we can better illustrate the impact on libraries and user information rights.

Charles E. Kratz, Library Director