Gadgets, Library Services, Tech

Guest Post: Circulating E-Readers

By Jennifer | January 31st, 2012 | 2 Comments

In conjunction with this week’s webinar, Developing and Maintaining E-Reader Policies and Procedures for Libraries, we asked Robyn Truslow, Public Relations Coordinator at the Calvert Library in Prince Frederick, Maryland, to share a post with their approach to managing policies and procedures for circulating e-readers, including keeping up with changes and needed revisions to the processes.

Thank you Robyn!

The short answer is to create a small team that includes someone on the front line and someone who really knows the ins and outs of the devices and meet regularly to tweak as needed.

Let’s be honest…once you commit to a certain ereader to circulate, you sort of get stuck with that particular device. The Kindle and NOOKcolor were the two hottest ereaders when we got our grant so that’s what we bought. It would be too complicated to add each new hot device as it was introduced. Nor are there many libraries that can afford to add devices as they come out. MANY man-hours went into the processing of the first set of 72 devices…we are not anxious to add more even though we recognize that those particularly devices are hardly cutting edge anymore. So, stuck with the Kindle and NOOKcolor, the process of purchasing books and processing the devices for circulation doesn’t really change.

However, ebooks are still coming out for them so I guess we need to keep adding to them…or do we? So many people are getting their own devices now that it might make little sense to commit money to putting ebooks on OUR device rather than ebooks that customers can put on THEIR device. This internal debate has left us sort of just waiting on this issue. We had actually pre-ordered some titles when the devices first started circulating and it was a bit of a pain to get those titles loaded when they finally came out. Each ereader has an average of 100 titles on it already so do we really need more?

Our biggest policy/procedure is our User Agreement. Though some grumbled, we asked staff to read the whole thing to customers at each checkout. There is a good bit of training info in the agreement and possibly some off-putting “Do NOTs” but we felt it important to protect the devices. We also knew that new situations would arise that might require tweaking of the user agreement and therefore the NEW information would need to be communicated to a customer that may have checked out a device before the change. For instance, we have decided that we need to ask that customers not use/store the device in an environment with tobacco smoke. We also realized, 12 broken cables later, the need to train customers how to plug and unplug the device.

We have 12 differently themed sets of ereaders and at this point, two of the sets no longer regularly have holds on them. Perhaps it’s time to weed a few copies from each of those sets and make a new set for 2011-2012 bestsellers? Easy enough…we just create a new Barnes & Noble account, deregister a few of the less popular devices and re-register with the new account. OK, we’ll also have to change the barcode and property label and add a new record. And then there are software updates…do we pull the devices so we can run the update?

You don’t want a big team discussing these issues, just two or three people that have front-line and technical knowledge and the capacity to move forward with any decisions.