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Do Ebooks Spell Doom For Libraries?

Can ebooks and libraries co-exist? The answer depends on what side you’re on.

Many librarians look down on ebooks with bitterness and resentment, believing they could make the need for libraries 

obsolete. The internet has already contributed to that feeling-with Google at your fingertips, the days of having to go to the library and thumb through card catalogues and periodical indexes are long gone. With ebooks, some may say the need for traditional paperbooks may also be eradicated, especially now that services like Overdrive make it possible for people to check out ebooks from their local libraries.

However, most of the big publishers, who are notoriously hostile toward ebooks, have stepped in to make things as difficult as possible for libraries. Some of them simply refuse to let their books be made available to libraries in electronic format at all, while the remainder have ridiculous conditions such as only allowing the ebook version of their titles to be checked out a total of 26 times. After that, the library must pay a new licensing fee. Of course the paper copies can be checked out an unlimited amount of times.

Are libraries in trouble? I don’t think so, in fact I think they are needed more than ever. The economy is still rocky and many Americans can’t afford to buy books, digital or otherwise. For them, libraries are a necessity. Libraries have also become a sort of community center. Many offer internet access, job search help, reading groups and more. I think they’ve learned to adapt nicely with changing times, and hopefully book publishers will too!