Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sage Hill's Library
Deep in Orange County, tucked against the foothills near Crystal Cove State Park, is the Sage Hill School.

Remarkably, our drive to this spectacular school was traffic-free and we arrived early enough to collect some moments of Zen at Roger’s Gardens, an oasis of botanical artistry. Relaxing into a Zen state was a good thing, because the complexity of information we received at the ISLE spring meeting lit up the overload warning sign in my brain.

We were treated to a dozen 3 minute vendor presentations on eBooks and databases, and then set free to network, clarify, and mingle with the eContent vendors.

What was the big deal?
Instantaneous delivery: Access to electronic versions of fiction, reference, and non-fiction works. Available 24/7. One user or many. Across multiple platforms (Kindle, iPhone, etc.), on your server or their cloud.

 As a consumer, a library could buy a license, pay an annual usage fee, or purchase the electronic file. A library could use the services of a vendor to purchase a block of eContent or customize their own collection. Access to eContent could be through the library’s own online catalog, or through a link to the vendor’s slick, high-appeal website. A couple of vendors offered aggregating services: where the library’s resources (print, database and eContent) are collected and searched simultaneously.

botanical artistry at Roger's Gardens

But, how to choose? Or, should we choose? Who will be left standing from this starting line-up of vendors in 5 years?

The meeting brought a tighter focus to some of the eContent issues our profession is discussing, and also a sense of wonder…how is this going to play out? What will become the industry standard, the best practice? For the present, we are planning to ask our Prep community what their eContent needs and desires are.

I’m thankful to be a part of a vocal and pro-active group like ISLE, because I know the discussions about eContent will continue to evolve in a thoughtful way, with an eye to the future and to our respective communities.

-Mrs. Eldridge