CIL Conference – Empowering the Reader in a Digital World

This CIL session was presented by Chad Mairn, Information Services Librarian at St. Petersberg College and Al Carlson, System Administrator for the Tampa Bay Library Consortium.

Al Carlson:

  • Library automation, the internet, and EPUB are the three big things he feels have hit the library industry during his career.
  • The book is the content and not the package, ebook is just another package.
  • Diagnosing the DVD Disappointment:  A Life Cycle View by Judson Coplan – this article from 2006 is one that Al recommends to read as a comparison to how quickly ebooks may be adopted.
  • History suggests that ebooks will rapidly invade the codex space
  • Books aren’t dead, they are just changing

Chad Mairn:

  • Chad provided an overview of various dedicated eReader devices available and non-dedicated readers
  • easy for our patrons to see that a CD won’t fit into a cassette player, but it’s not as easy for patrons to see the an AZW doesn’t work on their nook.
  • vendors use different DRM formats
  • So we have dueling formats and dueling DRM
  • Is DRM a good thing or an evil thing?  YES!
  • any device we see now will be old fashioned in a few years


  • If we switch to EPUB, how will this impact public libraries?
  • access – website becomes the library
  • delivery – instant home delivery, no need to visit the library or wait for a title
  • delivery – your costly, polluting, labor intensive inter-branch delivery vanishes
  • overdues?  nope
  • how does this affect ownership?  storage/download/access all from the vendor server, not ours….do we really own this?
  • Create an open source software that enables a library to store and check out ebooks
  • we need to figure out how to exploit this opportunity without being destroyed by it


  • Digital textbooks – 75% of students still prefer print textbooks, 95% of McGraw-Hill’s offerings are electronic, but their focus is still print
  • Horizon Report – eTextbooks will be widely adopted within one to two years
  • Florida looking at K-12 to go completely digital
  • Chad suggested some eTextbook options – coursesmart, amazon, courseload, flat world knowledge, inkling, Kno textbook tablet, nookstudy
  • looking ahead – browser based books are truly device agnostic, with html5 ebooks will become more interactive


  • We are watching evolution in action, issues like this keep us relevant and employed
  • show me the rules that say libraries may not convert epub to azw for patrons or never mention calibre or feedbooks
  • Al provided a demo of calibre, a software program that allows a user to store, read, and transfer ebooks from one format to another.  Al plugged in a kindle to his computer and transferred an epub file to azw
  • How do we stay in the game?  offer rental/purchase access to patrons who are willing to pay for a title rather than wait for it, allow patrons to donate these titles to the library once they are done.
  • Our homework – be aggressive about expressing our needs to have downloadable epub titles from vendors

These notes are my own interpretation of the presentation, my best efforts were made to guarantee accuracy.