Monday, February 20, 2012

Going Digital: E-books

Adam Strohm Hall – Detroit Public Library, Main Branch*
Recently our local public library had cutbacks (which left my son out of work) but I started thinking about the library services, physical books and the future of our library systems.

When I was a teenager, I loved going to the library to do research for a paper, check out classic books,  trace my family history and just hang out. [OK, yes, I was  nerdy, even then.] Now, that same research can be done online, with the most current information and access for academic resources with just the click of the mouse. As a student, I have been to the college library once.. not to pick up a book but to pick up a prize. ???

Don't get me wrong. I love libraries. Its just that things are starting to change. E-books are just a fraction of the market and it is growing by leaps as the price of e-readers drop.

There was a time for public libraries to bring reading to the masses and preserve historical books and documents.  But the world is a changing.  Although there may be some need for physical books (big question mark), most of the sources will probably be digitized. I remember when libraries had card catalogs. The transition to computer based searches were dynamic and improved services dramatically. If libraries do not adapt to the cycle of innovation and competition, they will find themselves with a diminished role in our culture.

So, where once the book (and heavy backpacks) ruled, now computers, tablets, e-books, CD/DVD audio books and the Internet are changing the way we view reading and libraries.  So where are these online resources?

The Digital Book Index: Search through 140,000 (and rising) indexed e-books. 

Project Gutenberg offers over 38,000 free e-books: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online.

Internet Archive - One of my favorite places, like the library, you never know what you will find. Over 2.5 million free titles. (browse one of the sub-collections like American Libraries.)  - Discover all-new, rising authors. Independent writers offer both entertaining fiction/romance for your enjoyment and non-fiction to help you find info from self-help to biz growth.

Open Library: How can you pass up 1,000,000 free book records? One web page for every book, About 10,000 eBooks available to anyone to borrow, 1 copy at a time, for 2 week.

Amazon and Barnes and Noble both have free public domain books in their collections. If you have their e-reader, this makes it easy to keep track of your books. (Amazon stores your collection at no charge!)

Happy Browsing! ☺ 

*The three-story Italian Renaissance style building was designed in 1921 by Cass Gilbert. Adam Strohm Hall is a majestic antechamber with a 35 feet ceiling painted with rosettes and caissons surrounded by massive murals. Over the entryway is "Man's Mobility" by John Stephens Coppin. Adjacent to the hall is The Grand Staircase, circled by five murals illustrating music, graphic arts, poetry, prose and the joining of the ways by Edwin Howland Blashfield. Source:

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