Thursday, 20 October 2011

Buying books through the public library

An article posted on TeleRead reminded me of a suggestion I made to the Ottawa Public Library some years ago that they provide links from the online catalogue to one or more online bookstores to facilitate the individual purchasing the book. It may be the person decides they'd like to own the book, or perhaps it would only be available from the library after a considerable wait.

The OPL did nothing about it, even though an affiliate fee could come the library's way if a purchase resulted. With continuing library budget restraint this could be an additional source of revenue.

It's something the more innovative British Library are trying with Amazon, but independent booksellers are objecting that it means the British Library, supported by public funds, is throwing its support behind a private, "aggressively competitive retailer."

If the arrangement was negotiated without the opportunity for others to either compete for an exclusive arrangement, or for others to also have their service linked in the same way as Amazon, then I would have sympathy with the objection. I don't know.

I do know that libraries need to be increasingly innovative in finding funding sources beyond their public subsidy.

My proposal to the OPL went further, suggesting that if a book purchased through such a link were one the library would like to have in its collection then there should be a provision for the purchaser to donate the book within a reasonable period of time and receive a fair value charitable donation receipt.

What's your view?


Anonymous said...

I like this idea. Some of us belong to book clubs and we are purchasing a book when we realize the library lineup is too long to read it before book club night. The library might as well get the benefit of our purchase.
Competition is a reality. Costco sells books at a discount for example-is this "unfair?"
A librarian, who stared in amazement at my account, told me recently that they do count on people's overdue fine money, as the budget is very limited.

Barbara Barr-Haylock said...

At our branch council meeting yesterday, we were told that the local library that houses our branch library would have to charge us $20 to catalogue a book since that is what they would have to pay.

I assume it's because most libraries purchase their books already catalogue with the magnetic strip and perhaps the data already on it.

A couple of libraries I use won't accept used books except for their book sales while a couple of others are more than happy to receive the books for circulation as well as for sale depending on whether they already have copies and other considerations.

As long as the tax receipt wasn't taking anything out of their budget and reflected a reduction for any cataloguing cost, I can't see why they would object.