Balancing Print and Electronic Collections in Public Libraries: Perspectives for a Changing World

Cassandra Larose

Abstract


Public libraries are of vital importance to their communities, providing access to information, shelter, services, and serving as an anchor for economic and social growth. As public libraries adapt to an increasingly digital world, they must address the balance of print and electronic materials to ensure that users have access to what they want and need. While public libraries’ print collections are decreasing at a slower rate than those of their academic counterparts, they are also facing increasing pressure to offer materials electronically. Public libraries must address challenges in tracking usage statistics as well as their users’ attitudes towards ebooks and print materials. Resource issues must be addressed, including costs and staffing. An increased desire for flexible space within library branches may also be a consideration impacting print collections. In addressing issues of accessibility, both print and electronic materials may create barriers in some instances while increasing access in others. The closure of many public library spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has introduced new issues, including limitations to access of print materials, new ease of access to online materials, and additional resource limitations as libraries work with limited budgets and staff. While the shift to online services during the COVID-19 pandemic has likely sped up the transition to increasing availability of online resources in public libraries, an appetite for print materials remains.


Keywords


collection management, public libraries, ebooks, libraries

Full Text:

PDF

References


American Library Association (April 9, 2020). Public libraries launch, expand services during COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2020/04/public-libraries-launch-expand-services-during-covid-19-pandemic-0

Blackwell, M., Mason, C., & May, M. (2019). Ebook availability, pricing, and licensing: A study of three vendors in the U.S. and Canada. Computers in Libraries, 39(9), 20-28.

Breeding, M. (2019). Smarter libraries through technology: Balancing print and digital. Smart Libraries Newsletter, 39(06), 1–2.

Breeding, M. (2020a). A global crisis may reshape library services. Computers in Libraries; Westport, 40(4), 9–11.

Breeding, M. (2020b). The stark reality of COVID-19's impact on libraries: Technology for the new normal. Computers in Libraries, 40(6), 9-10.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (2021, March 19). Broadband fund: Closing the digital divide in Canada. Retrieved March 29, 2021, from https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/internet/internet.htm

de la Peña McCook, K. & Bossaller, J.S. (2017). Introduction to public librarianship. American Library Association. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/dal/detail.action?docID=5964195.

Enis, M. (2018). Materials on hand. Library Journal, 143(9), 21.

Federation of Ontario Public Libraries. (2018, October 4). Non-traditional circulating library collections. Retrieved March 29, 2021 from http://fopl.ca/news/non-traditional-circulating-library-collections/

Gao, Y., & Isaia, M. (2017). Reading and the good life: An analysis of print and digital readers in suburban libraries. Library Philosophy and Practice; Lincoln, 1–18.

Gray, R., & Howard, V. (2017). Young adult use of ebooks: An analysis of public library services and resources. Public Library Quarterly (New York, N.Y.), 36(3), 199-212.

IFLA (n.d.). COVID-19 and the global library field. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.ifla.org/covid-19-and-libraries

Johnson, P. (2014). Fundamentals of collection development and management. American Library Association.

King, N. (2012). Nice vs. necessary: Reference collections in ARL member libraries. The Reference Librarian, 53(2), 138-155.

Leech, H. (2013). Car crash e-lending: Help is on the way? Multimedia Information & Technology, 39(4), 15–18.

Moscovitch, T. (2020, May 10). Libraries on overdrive: They’ve ramped up digital services during the pandemic, but the future remains uncertain. Halifax Examiner. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://www.halifaxexaminer.ca/featured/libraries-on-overdrive-theyve-ramped-up-digital-services-during-the-pandemic-but-the-future-remains-uncertain/

Overdrive. (n.d.). Who we are – Overdrive. Retrieved March 29, 2021 from https://company.overdrive.com/company-profile/who-we-are/

Overdrive. (2021, January 26). Borrowing Kindle books from your library. Retrieved March 29, 2021 from https://help.overdrive.com/en-us/0431.html

Puacz, J. H. (2005). Electronic vs. print reference sources in public library collections. Reference Librarian, 91/92, 39–51.

Rao, K. N., Tripathi, M., & Kumar, S. (2016). Cost of Print and Digital Books: A Comparative Study. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 42(4), 445-452.

Sendze, M. (2012). The e-book experiment. Public Libraries, 51(1), 34-37.

Terrell, H.B. (2015) Reference is dead, long live reference: Electronic collections in the digital age. Information Technology and Libraries, 34(4), 55-62.

Tribune Wire Reports (2015, July 12). Some libraries struggle to find balance between print, digital. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/books/ct-libraries-print-books-ebooks-20150708-story.html


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.