Read On! Vol. 151 Digital Library Holds

Our digital library is one of our best-used services, especially right now. We belong to a consortium of Oklahoma libraries, the OK Virtual Library, that bands together to purchase ebooks, downloadable audiobooks, streaming videos, and digital magazines through Overdrive (aka Libby).

The consortium owns about 64,000 titles that its almost 16,000 users can check out for up to two weeks. In the last 30 days, we have checked out over 100,000 items as a collective through Overdrive/Libby. It’s a busy place!

The popularity of Overdrive/Libby coupled with the realities of purchasing digital content as a public library means our patrons see long holds lists. We’re so sorry.

Digital content for public libraries is really expensive, so we need the buying power of the consortium to build a good collection. In addition to charging more, publishing companies put strict parameters on how long we can own a digital title and how many times it can check out before we have to buy it again.

To be clear, when libraries buy a digital book, we don’t actually own anything. We are purchasing a license for our patrons (one at a time) to access that title.

Last year, the Library Board approved purchasing local copies of digital content that we can share with the consortium. We just placed an order of the 8 titles with the most holds from our patrons. We spent just shy of $300.

If you purchase these same digital titles as a private citizen, you’d save $100. If you get them in their physical formats, you’d save $80. If the Library gets them in their physical formats, we would save $150. Plus, we’d own them with zero restrictions for as long as they last.

Digital content is here to stay (and print isn’t going anywhere), but until publishers change their rules, our holds lists will continue to be daunting.