Why do I have to wait SO LONG for library ebooks?

It’s been an increasing source of frustration for many library users: waiting weeks, sometimes months to get to the top of the waiting list for a popular eBook or e-Audiobook.

As I write this, the ebook for Michelle Obama’s 2018 memoir, Becoming,  has over 200 people waiting for their turn at one of 16 eBook copies. If each of those 16 copies is checked out for the full lending period of 21 days, well, that’s a very long wait if you’re at the bottom of the list. (Take heart, if you’re using a Cheshire library card, your wait won’t be quite as long.  We have purchased 2 additional copies for Cheshire cardholders exclusively, so CPL users will move through the hold queue a little faster).

Why does it take so long? After all, it’s not a physical object, it’s a digital file that lives in the “cloud”, why can’t multiple people access it simultaneously instead of only one at a time? Barring that, why doesn’t the library just buy more copies so that the waiting list is shorter? Getting people access to books and information is what libraries are all about, but the struggle to acquire lendable e-content is very real, and it’s getting harder all the time. Why? What’s the big hairy deal? For that answer, you have to look to the “Big 5” Publishers, who are responsible for close to 80% of trade book sales.

First, a little background. When Cheshire Library started offering eBooks to their patrons in 2006,   lending of downloadable items was in its infancy.  Publishers were extremely wary about allowing library users virtual access to their books. After all, digital copies of books never wear out or have to be replaced, and are more vulnerable to unauthorized copying (“pirating”). Publishers were afraid if they allowed libraries access to their books digitally, they would be losing money. Individual publishers came up with their own sets of rules for libraries to access their e-content, and they have been tweaked many times since 2006. The graphic to the right outlines the current purchasing & lending restrictions for libraries purchasing e-Books from the “Big 5”. Over the years, all 5 publishers have gone to a “metered access” model, meaning that titles expire after a set number of uses or months, at which time the library has to purchase the item again if they want to keep it available to their patrons.

And, unfortunately, the prices libraries must pay for ebooks and e-audiobooks are very high. Libraries must pay up to 4X the retail price for digital versions of books (which only one user can have access to at a time).  Meeting the library patron’s needs for downloadable content is a very expensive enterprise, indeed! Take a look at this comparison of the prices for various versions of the same book:

e-Audiobook publishers have used a “perpetual license” model in the past, (meaning a title only needs to be purchased once, regardless of the number of uses or months) but that is starting to change. Many are converting to a “metered access” model like the eBook publishers, which will have a significant impact on how many titles a library is able to purchase.

Recently, another way for libraries to offer digital content has emerged, the “pay-per-use” model. Platforms like Hoopla, Kanopy, and Freegal, are examples. These platforms offer libraries a pre-curated collection of digital items that have no limit on how many people can check them out at the same time. Rather than buying individual titles, the library pays a fee each time an item from the collection is checked out. For a while, this sounded like a good solution to the long waiting periods users experienced on traditional platforms. The drawback? The service can become so popular that the monthly fees quickly become unmanageable. This is what happened at CPL when we tried Hoopla.  The monthly fees kept skyrocketing,  even when we lowered our checkout limit to 5 items per month. It became impossible to sustain the expense without reducing the service even further, so we discontinued Hoopla and looked for something better.

Since discontinuing Hoopla, CPL has added a platform with a new lending model for e-Audiobooks that we hope will ease some frustration. RBdigital began offering a new service with a core collection of 30,000+ audiobook titles that allow muti-user access (always available, no waiting lists), plus the ability for libraries to add newer and more in-demand titles to the collection (following the one copy/one user model). RBdigital charges libraries a flat monthly fee for the “always available” content, so the library doesn’t have to limit the amount of items patrons check out, and knows exactly how much to budget for each month. We’ll continue to look for ways to bring the most value to the library experience.

The digital media landscape for libraries is constantly changing and adjusting. Here are some articles to check out if you’re  interested in learning more on the subject:

www.cnn.com/2019/08/02/opinions/libraries-fight-publishers-over-e-books-west/index.html

www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2019/07/ala-uneasy-about-simon-schuster-digital-lending-model-changes

www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2019/06/ala-concerned-over-hachette-book-group-ebook-and-audio-book-lending-model

www.inquirer.com/news/ebooks-free-library-philadelphia-costs-budget-20190117.html

https://slate.com/business/2019/09/e-book-library-publisher-buying-controversy-petition.html

30,000+ audiobooks are waiting for you!

Did you hear? Cheshire Library recently announced the dramatic expansion of our RBdigital audiobook collection. With over 34,000 titles, there’s something for everyone—from classics to bestselling new titles, debut authors to major literary prize winners, children’s literature to business books, and more. With your Cheshire Library card, you’ll have access to thousands of free audiobooks!

 

 

 

The core collection of these audiobook titles are unlimited access—always available for immediate access without holds or delays. We will also be adding new titles to the collection every month, with the traditional borrowing model (1 user at a time). So while you’re waiting for that bestseller to become available, there are over 30,000 titles to select from in the meantime (everything from classics like The Hobbit and Great Expectations to contemporary favorites like Red Rising and Outlander, in addition to nonfiction, self-help, children’s titles, and more)!

You can listen to audiobooks at home from your computer, or on-the-go from your tablet or smartphone. You can also have up to 10 audiobooks checked out at a time with no monthly limits!  Find the link to our RBdigital collection on our website, or download the app to listen on a mobile device:

 

 

We’re really excited to be offering this service to our patrons. Try our new expanded audiobook collection and let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


May is Cheshire Food Pantry Month

In the state of Connecticut, 414,730 people are struggling with hunger – and of them 117,380 are children. Here in Cheshire, one might hope these statistics don’t apply to our residents, but of course, we are not immune to the problem. The Cheshire  Food Pantry is a community organization that provides food in situations for all eligible individuals and families in need, regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, or disability.
 The Cheshire Food Pantry is different from many food pantries because it uses a client-choice model in which clients are allowed the freedom to select their own groceries. This model provides food subsidies to low income families in crisis, while nurturing their ability to be independent and take control of their life.
For the month of May, we are shining a light on the Cheshire Food Pantry with a Food for Fines campaign, and craft programs that will benefit the food pantry. Throughout the month, CPL will be accepting donations of non-perishable food and toiletry items in lieu of overdue fines on library materials.  All donations will be delivered to the Cheshire Food Pantry. 
According to Library Director Beth Crowley, “This is a great time for patrons who are returning library materials late or who have accumulated overdue fines to clear their record while helping someone in need.” Crowley said “We chose the month of May to run this program because, in speaking with the Cheshire Food Pantry, we discovered donations tend to drop off this time of year but the need is always there.”

Donations can be used to clear fines on materials that have been returned in good condition.  They will not be accepted for lost or damaged items.  There is no rate of exchange; a minimum of one donated item can be used to clear fines on one account.  A list of suggested items to donate is available at the Library and on our website at www.cheshirelibrary.org/food-for-fines All donations must be non-perishable, unopened and cannot be expired. (Items of particular need include: Jar Pasta Sauce, Mayonnaise, Canned Peaches, Fruit Cups, Crackers, Toilet Paper, Tissues, Paper Towels. )

We also have 2 programs for kids and families to create totes for Food Pantry users. Caring Crafts is a twice-monthly program for kids in grades K-6 to make things while making the world a better place. We’re getting extra-creative this month and decorating canvas tote bags for food pantry clients on May 9th, and on May 23rd we’re making birthday cards for kids who use the food pantry.  Crafters and artists of any age are invited to decorate totes at Crafting for a Cause on Wednesday, May 22nd. We’ll supply art materials and design ideas if you need some inspiration, but feel free to bring your own designs and your own supplies. We’re making one tote for each of the 130 food pantry clients, so you’ll have plenty of blank canvas (literally) to create something beautiful! Please register in advance for these programs.

Want to learn more about the problem of hunger in America? Here are some resources at CPL:

A Place at the Table / Participant Media presents a Catalyst Films/Silverbush production ; a Lori Silverbush/Kristi Jacobson film ; produced by Julie Goldman, Ryan Harrington ; produced and directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush  (DVD | 2013, rated PG)

Hunger in America : Issues and Assistance edited by Gaston T. LaBue (E-Book)

Hunger : A Modern History by James Vernon (E-Book)

.

 

Board in the Library – Exploring the rise of tabletop gaming in 2018

When a friend asked me if I wanted to go to a board game cafe (The Board Room in Middletown CT) , I pictured three mind numbing hours of pictionary, or even worse, monopoly. I have a short attention span as it is, and pretending to be a tiny banker buying properties acrossboardgamesforadults-2x1-7452 the board and keeping track of piles of colorful money never really engaged me. In reality, I spent the next three hours curing diseases in Pandemic, creating train tracks that spread the globe in Ticket to Ride, and trading spices in Century: Spice Roads. I was floored that board games had evolved so much since I had played as a kid, the art was more engaging, the stories richer, and the play more involved. In the months following this revelation I’ve added over thirty board games to my list, and I’ve expanded my idea of what a board game can be.

Now how does this tie in to the library you ask? Well, board games have actually gained a large following in the library world, and both librarians and patrons are starting to take notice. Board games are one of the many tips-on-how-to-make-a-board-gameresources in a library that encourage community and collaboration. At a time when parents and educators are concerned about the rise in digital media and isolation, board games get people of different backgrounds engaging with each other across a table, solving problems, improving a number of practical skills, and having a good time. When you look at it that way, it’s no surprise that board games are a critical part of a libraries community, and a lifelong pursuit of learning.

If you’re new to board games, or like me, rediscovering your love of gaming, fear not. Here is a quick list of board games perfect for beginners.

GUEST_53b1f213-e257-4ac1-9e30-12dcbac91c33

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn.

 

  • Ticket To Ride suggests 2-5 players ages 8 and up with 45 minutes of play time.

91l5qFQxAtL._SX466_

TsuroCreate your own journey with Tsuro: The Game of the Path! Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care. Other players’ paths can lead you in the wrong direction—or off the board entirely! Paths will cross and connect, and the choices you make affect all the journeys across the board. Find your way wisely and be the last player left on the board to win!

  • Tsuro suggests ages: 8+ , with 2-8 players, and up to 20 minutes of play time.

pic1900075

Sushi Go! – Pass the sushi! In this fast-playing card game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. But be sure to leave room for dessert or else you’ll eat into your score! Gather the most points and consider yourself the sushi master!

  • Sushi Go! suggests ages 8+, with 2-5 players, and up to 15 minutes of play time.

Just like the rest of the library, board games are designed to challenge your current pattern of thinking and keep your brain young. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that playing board games was associated with a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Board games are also great for those with anxiety as a way to step out and make new friends within a structured setting, allowing friendships to build over a collaborative goal. But, just like any other program in the library, it needs participants to thrive and grow.

Lucky for you, there’s a new board game club opening at the Cheshire Public Library this February! This club will be hosted on the first Thursday of the month, and each month will feature a new board game. Come and enjoy our freshly re-modeled third floor, have a hot chocolate and re connect with old friends, or make some new ones!

 

 

 

Navigating the Mystery of Items Coming From Other Libraries

We hear you!  It can be very frustrating when you have requested an item and it is coming from another library and it’s taking forever!  It is a very complicated process that many folks have a hard time understanding.  We hope this explanation will give you a better understanding about why it takes so long for you to receive your item(s).

The main misconception is that someone here at the Cheshire library gets in their car and drives to another library to get the item.  What actually happens is the Connecticut State Library provides a service called deliverIT CT.  This is run by the State and paid for from the State’s budget.  At this time, libraries do not have to pay for this service.  They have 11 drivers/maintainers currently employed.  They go to 167 libraries daily, make 848 stops per week, serve 1,546,895 patrons, and move 15,000 items daily.

As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking and coordinating it all is quite challenging for the State.  Here at the library, we cannot tell you what day or time of day we will get our delivery.  The delivery schedule is affected by a variety of factors such as vacations, illness, holidays, the weather, and the like.  Cheshire gets at least one delivery a week (although we have gone more than a week without any delivery on occasion).  When there is no delivery, there is no pick-up of materials going out.  The same is true for other libraries.  If they don’t have a delivery, their out-going items sit in bins waiting to go out.  We can have 15-25 bins waiting to be picked up here on a weekly basis.

When you see the term “in transit” on your account, that doesn’t mean the item is physically moving between libraries or that it will be in our next delivery.  It can sit in a bin at a library for many days (or weeks, in some cases).  Once the items leave a library, they need to be sorted before heading out to the various libraries.  What we have been experiencing here in Cheshire is that the average time to receive requested items is 2-4 weeks.  Some come in sooner, some later.   We’ll contact you when your item has arrived.

The Difference Between “Available” and “Ready for Pickup”
To also clarify, when you see the term “Available” on  your account, that means the item you requested is sitting on a shelf at one of the 30 libraries in our consortium.  If you see it is available in Cheshire, your best bet is to come in to get it or call the library to have staff place a hold on Cheshire’s copy.  If you place the hold from home, the computer software does not automatically select Cheshire.  Your account will say “Ready for pickup” when it is here in Cheshire on our Hold Shelf.

If the item you want is owned by Cheshire but currently checked out, it is quicker to wait for the Cheshire item instead of requesting it from another library.  You can call the library or come in person and we will be happy to place a hold specifically on a Cheshire item since this must be done by a staff member.

The State has instituted various guidelines to help reduce the volume of items being transported between libraries.  All libraries have been urged to comply with the established guidelines. (Please note, many libraries do not ship DVDs, CDs, or audiobooks – including Cheshire). The State has done an excellent job considering their resources and the volume.  Please know that they are doing everything they can to provide equal access to library resources for all Connecticut residents.

Another misconception is that staff can tell you what number you are in line for an  item, especially for a book by one of the most popular authors.  Unfortunately, our computer software does not have any way to determine where you are on the list.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what it takes for your item to come from another library.  If you need an item for a specific date, you will need to plan ahead.  You always have the option of going to a specific library to pick up the item yourself.  Just call the library ahead of time and they will set the item aside for you.

4abc340cf5d893ff4bf6ebc17b29c221Always remember that if you need help locating an item, any of our staff will be happy to assist you.