EBook Usage Expanding On An Exponential Scale In Irish Libraries

Only two of the 31 Irish Library services currently offer ebooks to readers but Georgina Byrne of South Dublin Libraries said that the growth of ‘our digital book usage is on an exponential scale.’

Byrne said that when they South Dublin Libraries first offered the service it ‘started at 200 [downloads] per month’ but that this year readers were ‘now borrowing almost 1500 [downloads] per month.’

The service allows users who are resident, work or live in the county area to download ebooks from a catalogue of some 2000 titles from a variety of publishers supplied by US based Overdrive .

Users can set the term for each loan at either one, two or three weeks and once the alloted period of time passes, the file is no longer accessible. The library can only lend as many copies of the ebook as it has in stock from Overdrive.

Byrne believes that if borrowers had access to more content, that the number of downloads would be even higher. ‘Irish content is hoovered up by our readers’ said Byrne who would love to see more titles from Irish publishers.

However, as Irish Publishing News reported this morning, not everything is perfect. HarperCollins has imposed new rules on libraries which will lead to licences for titles ceasing after 26 loans, something Byrne described as ‘worrying.’

‘I think the Irish are very quick adopters,’ said Byrne who is quick to point out that their goal is not to harm publishers, nor is it to do anything different to the traditional model. They simply want to, ‘pay for the copies we use and try to just facilitate customers who are at the front of a new way of reading.’