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					                Library Services & Technology Act
                     Final Narrative Report

                       Project #0070-01-0041
                “Electronic Book Evaluation Project”
        Period Covered: October 1, 1999 – September 30, 2000




Prepared by: Susan Gibbons
Submitted: 10-15-00
1. Describe the project’s accomplishments in relation to its objectives and the target
population.

   !    “To explore potential partnership and licensing issues with vendors engaged in
        publishing or distributing electronic books in order to learn about the products
        and to discuss plans for serving libraries and their patrons”

       The Project Director conducted research on a daily basis in order to stay abreast of ebook
       technology. The information she gathered was compiled into a series of webpages, which
       are available to the public at http://www.rrlc.org/ebook/ebookhome.html. Through her
       research, the Project Director and the website have become resources for many librarians
       throughout the world. This has been made evident by the number of requests for
       information received, the several dozen speaking invitations and the over 4,600 hits on the
       project’s website in only 5 months.

       Whenever possible, the Project Director contacted ebook vendors to inquire about how
       libraries fit into their business models. Through these conversations several possible
       partnerships emerged. NetLibrary, which provides access to electronic books over the
       Internet, participated in the project’s March 6th forum. NetLibrary’s participation in the
       forum has lead to the Monroe County Library System’s inclusion in a free, 6-month trial of
       the netLibrary product, which is being offered to only 100 public libraries nationwide.
       Discussions with the Mary Ellen Heinen, Glassbook’s Vice-President of Sales and
       Marketing, has lead to a verbal agreement that the Rochester libraries involved in the
       second year of this project will become beta-testers for Glassbook’s Library Server due in
       December. Moreover, discussions with Brian Fielding, Senior Vice-President of Content,
       Business & Legal Affairs at Audible.com resulted in a verbal agreement that Audible.com
       would partner with this project in order to build a library-business model for the company.


   !    “To develop expertise among library directors in the Rochester region regarding
        electronic books and their future application in libraries.”

       The project’s Expert Panel, formed in January, consists of eight area librarians (2 school, 2
       academic and 4 public librarians) and the Project Director. The panel has meet monthly in
       order to exchange information about the industry, share the results and experiences of each
       field-test library and oversee the goals and objectives of the project. The level of ebook
       knowledge among the Expert Panel is quite high and almost all members of the panel have
       been asked to give talks on electronic books to colleagues throughout New York State.

       At the start of the project, a survey was sent to the directors of all libraries within the
       Rochester Regional Library Council, Monroe County Library System and Monroe #2
       BOCES School Library System in order to assess their level of ebook knowledge. The
       survey revealed that the majority had little or no information about electronic books
       (survey results available at http://www.rrlc.org/ebook/survey.htm). In order to introduce
       librarians to electronic books and raise the general level of awareness about the technology
       and this project, a forum entitled “The ABCs of Electronic Books” was held at the
Rochester Public Library on March 6, 2000. Sixty-two librarians, representing 26 different
institutions attended the forum. The forum evaluations were very positive, with 59% rating
the extent of knowledge gained at either “a great amount” or “extensive.”

The project sponsored a second forum on September 21, 2000 at the Rochester Public
Library entitled “Electronic Books: Academic, Public and School Library Perspectives.”
Unlike the first forum, librarians from outside of the Rochester region were encouraged to
attend. The purpose was to share the ebook expertise garnered and give some very
practical information about the trials and tribulations of integrating the ebook format into
libraries. 107 librarians attended from over 40 institutions across New York State. 87%
rated the overall program as excellent with 94% rating the extent of knowledge gained as
“extensive” or “a great amount.”

In addition to the talks sponsored by this project, the Project Director and members of the
Expert Panel have been invited to speak all across New York State and the country. For
example, a librarian involved in this project has or will be speaking at:
      • Public Library Leadership Institute in Maryland
      • Pennsylvania State Library Technology Conference
      • Trustee Institute of the New York State Association of Library Boards
      • Midwinter Conference at Concordia College
      • New York Library Association Conference in Saratoga
      • Public Library Association Conference in Chicago
      • American Library Association Conference in San Francisco

Thus far, librarians involved in this project have given formal talks to more than 350
people, from more than 15 US states and two countries.

Librarians unable to attend the forums and talks associated with this project have received
information about ebooks from us via email and the project’s website. Over 50 librarians
have contacted the Project Director by email for information and advice. The project’s
website has been receiving an average of 210 hits a week. Moreover, links to the project’s
website can be found on several other library resources webpages, including:
         AcqWeb- http://acqweb.vanderbilt.edu/acqweb/lis_hot.html
         Bibliofuture- http://bibliofuture.homepage.com/links.html
         BUBL Link- http://link.bubl.ac.uk/
         Librarians’ Index to the Internet- http://www.lii.org
         Libraries with E-Books-http://skyways.lib.ks.us/central/ebooks/libraries.html
         Library and Information Science News- http://www.lisnews.com
         NIST’s Ebook Info- http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/ebook2000/info.html
         Writers Write- http://www.writerswrite.com/epublishing/orgs.htm

Overall, the librarians associated with the project are recognized as experts in the field and
the Electronic Book Evaluation Project has come to be regarded as a standard resource for
librarians interested in electronic books.
    Moreover, the general level of knowledge and awareness about electronic books has
    significantly increased among librarians in the Rochester region (target audience). A post-
    project survey conducted in September shows significant changes when compared to the
    pre-project survey conducted in December 1999. For instance, 72% of those surveyed last
    year rated their knowledge of electronic books to be “little or no knowledge.” At the end
    of the project, only 22% rated their knowledge at that level. Whereas only 7% could rate
    their knowledge at either “very knowledgeable” or “extremely knowledgeable” at the
    beginning of the project, more than 34% could do so at the end. When asked, only 5% had
    ever read a book on an ebook reader as of December 1999, but by September 2000 that
    number had significantly increased to 48%. Moreover, the number of regional libraries that
    now own ebook readers has risen from 2 to 14.

    The number of respondents who did not answer the survey questions reveals another
    measurement of the increase in ebook knowledge among regional librarians. In the pre-
    project survey, approximately one-third did not answer questions 5 & 6 (greatest strengths
    and weaknesses of ebooks) because they felt that they did not have sufficient knowledge to
    do so. Only 12% did not answer those same questions in the post-project survey. The level
    of ebook knowledge has definitely increased in the Rochester region. Since 64% of the
    respondents have attended a talk sponsored by this project and/or visited the project’s
    website, a good amount of the increase in knowledge can be attributed to this project.

!    “To test state-of-the-art electronic book hardware and software for practicality in a
     library setting.”

    Many more libraries than could be accommodated volunteered to field test electronic
    books. From the pool of volunteers, six libraries were selected—2 academic (Rochester
    Institute of Technology and University of Rochester), 2 public (Gates Public Library and
    Fairport Public Library) and 2 school libraries (Spencerport High School and Jefferson
    Middle School). The Expert Panel developed a set of procedures by which the ebook
    readers could be evaluated:
              o Each field-test library received 5 ebook readers (2 SoftBooks and 3 Rockets)
              o Staff members at each library selected titles to be loaded onto each ebook
                  reader, based on the interests of their patrons.
              o The ebook readers first circulated among the staff members at each library to
                  ensure that everyone was familiar with the technology.
              o Each field-test library developed its own circulation policy based on its unique
                  patron-base
              o Each user (patron and library staff) is asked to complete an evaluation survey
                  after using the ebook reader.
              o A patron’s contact information is taken if she/he expresses interest in
                  participating in a focus group.
              o Results of the surveys were posted on the project’s website.
              o Focus groups of patrons, educators and librarians were conducted in order to
                  gather additional information that could not be adequately captured by the
                  survey.
On April 24th, Gates and Fairport Public Libraries began circulating ebook readers to their
patrons. Circulation began at RIT in late May and at the University of Rochester in early
June. Upon the request of several parents, students at the high school and middle school
were not permitted to remove the ebook readers from the libraries. Rather, students read
the ebooks in the library during their free periods starting in May at Spencerport High
School and September at Jefferson Middle School. At both of the schools, the librarians
gave ebook demonstrations and workshops to their institutions’ teachers and staff. As of
September 30th, ebook readers had circulated or, in the case of the schools, were used in-
house, by over 230 patrons.

Overall, the results of the project far exceeded our initial expectations. We began the
project with the expectation that patrons would not enjoy reading on an LCD screen. In
reality, patrons from all types of libraries enjoyed using the ebook readers. Not only did
reading on the screen not cause discomfort, but several stated that the lighted screen was
easier on their eyes. No one reported any eyestrain, which is significant since two-thirds
reported reading one or more complete books on the reader. The most popular features of
the readers were the adjustable fonts, backlighting and ability to carry several titles in a
single package. When asked in which format they would want to read their next book
(ebook or paper), 36% chose ebook with another 23% stating no preference. This suggests
that reading an ebook is for many a pleasurable experience that they would want to repeat.

For the librarians involved in the project, however, the integration of the ebook format
could not be described as pleasurable. It became very clear that ebook readers were
designed for a single, individual user. The closed encryption technology makes it
impossible to move ebooks between readers, even of the same make. In addition, the fact
that an ebook could be purchased but not currently loaded onto a reader made it very
difficult to reflect the title’s status in the public catalog. As a result, only one library, RIT,
listed the ebooks in its catalog. Each time the titles on the readers are changed, the
catalogers at RIT must change the cataloging record.

The school librarians dealt with some additional difficulties. There are very few age-
appropriate, ebook titles for school students. Moreover, state-mandated testing, heavy
courseloads and active social lives meant that the students did not have much time for
leisure reading. If the librarians had been able to tie the ebook titles more closely with the
curriculum, it may have been easier to assess the fit of ebooks and school libraries.

Moreover, the purchase of ebooks and ebook readers is nearly impossible without the use
of a credit card. Most libraries, including the Monroe County Library System, which
financially oversaw this project, do not have access to credit cards. As a result, the
majority of purchases for this project were done on the Project Director’s personal credit
card.

As a result of this project, the librarians involved have learned a great deal about the
relationship between their libraries, patrons and ebooks. With this knowledge, the
librarians have become quite adept at articulating the unique needs of libraries to ebook
manufacturers and publishers.
   !    “To influence the products and marketing strategies (including pricing) of publishers of
        electronic books to reflect the needs of libraries.”

       Whenever possible, the results of the project were shared with the ebook industry. For
       instance, representatives from the makers of both the SoftBook and the Rocket Readers
       contacted the Project Director inquiring about the project. Representatives from netLibrary
       and Gale Publishing also contacted the Project Director for information. Moreover,
       Gaylord Library Systems has requested that she act as a consultant to the company as it
       tries to tailor its product to the emerging ebook market.

       Overall, however, the ebook industry has not been as responsive to this project as was
       initially hoped. With the exception of netLibrary, which is marketing its product directly to
       libraries, the ebook industry is not yet ready to focus on libraries. The publishing industry
       is very fearful that they will be the next victims of “napster-like” piracy. As a result, most
       publishers will only allow their content to be digitized if it is protected by very tight
       encryption. Ebook manufacturers, needing interesting content as a way to sell their devices
       and software, are forced to acquiesce to the demand of publishers for tight encryption.
       Since it is extremely difficult for libraries to work within tightly encrypted systems,
       libraries are not yet a viable market for the ebook industry. For this reason, the project’s
       market research study has been pushed into the second year of this project. Hopefully,
       within the next year the industry, interested in the collective billions in buying-power that
       libraries have, will become more responsive to a study on ebooks and libraries. Moreover,
       such a study would carry more weight if it were the collaborative effort of many librarians.
       To this end, a proposal was sent to Pat Harris, Executive Director of NISO, recommending
       that a committee of librarians be formed to draft a set of specifications and standards that
       would make ebooks more “library-friendly.” Members of NISO and NIST are currently
       reviewing the proposal.


2. If you were starting this project now, what would you do differently?

   We underestimated the difficulties that would arise by not having a credit card for purchases.
   If we were to start this project over, we would capture some of the very valuable time that
   was lost trying in vain to make purchases by purchase orders. This would have allowed us to
   obtain the ebook readers several months sooner and thereby getting them into the hands of
   the school students a few months, rather than a few weeks, before the school term ended.

   As the project progressed, it became apparent that it is more the potential of digital text,
   rather than its current applications, that may cause revolutionary changes in libraries. Had
   we come to this realization sooner, more could have been done to solicit input and opinions
   about possible future uses of ebooks in libraries and the classroom, rather than soliciting
   comments about what will probably be only the first of many iterations of ebook technology.

3. Briefly summarize the quantitative evaluation results for this project noting to what
   extent you reached the target population.
The Project Director, the 8 members of the Expert Panel and the 3 system directors (Monroe
County Library System, Monroe 2 BOCES School System and Rochester Regional Library
Council) all possess a high level of knowledge and expertise about ebooks as a direct result
of this project. Approximately twenty additional library staff members from the six field-test
libraries have had an opportunity to work with electronic books extensively as they
integrated the format into their libraries. As a direct result of this project, over 230 library
patrons had the first-hand experience of reading on an ebook reader. Frequently, the patrons
reported that they did not expect to like the ebook experience and would not have been
willing to pay for a reader themselves. However, once they had an opportunity to read an
ebook in the comfort of their home, many have added ebook readers to their Christmas list.

Approximately 350 people attended the talks and workshops associated this project. The
evaluation surveys indicate that the attendants of those talks left considerably more
knowledgeable about ebooks. 27% rated the amount of knowledge they gained from the
talks to be “extensive,” while an additional 58% rated their knowledge gained to be “a great
amount.” About two-thirds of the attendants were from the grant’s target population,
representing approximately 23% of the target population. The other third were librarians
from outside of the Rochester region. In writing this grant, the interest that the project
would generate from librarians throughout New York State, the country and across the globe
was underestimated. For instance, in September a public librarian from Bergen Norway
visited Rochester in order to speak with the Project Director and attend the project’s forum.
A librarian from Australia plans to visit Rochester in 2001, with the express purpose of
learning more about electronic books.

The project’s website has become a reference tool for librarians worldwide, as well as
provide insight to the ebook industry as to the unique needs of libraries. The website has
received over 4,600 hits in just 5 months and is link to by more than a dozen other library-
focus websites. In addition, over 50 librarians worldwide have emailed the Project Director
requesting advice and information.

Through the use of a pre- and post-project survey, it is possible to measure the increase in the
general level of knowledge and awareness about electronic books in the Rochester region
(target audience). A post-project survey conducted in September shows significant changes
when compared to the pre-project survey conducted in December 1999. For instance, 72% of
those surveyed last year rated their knowledge of electronic books to be “little or no
knowledge.” At the end of the project, only 22% rated their knowledge at that level.
Whereas only 7% could rate their knowledge at either “very knowledgeable” or “extremely
knowledgeable” at the beginning of the project, more than 34% could do so at the end.
When asked, only 5% had ever read a book on an ebook reader as of December 1999, but by
September 2000 that number had significantly increased to 48%. Moreover, the number of
regional libraries that now own ebook readers has risen from 2 to 14.

The number of respondents who did not answer the survey questions reveals another
measurement of the increase in ebook knowledge among regional librarians. In the pre-
project survey, approximately one-third did not answer questions 5 & 6 (greatest strengths
   and weaknesses of ebooks) because they felt that they did not have sufficient knowledge to
   do so. Only 12% did not answer those same questions in the post-project survey. The level
   of ebook knowledge has definitely increased in the Rochester region. Since 64% of the
   respondents have attended a talk sponsored by this project and/or visited the project’s
   website, a good amount of the increase in knowledge can be attributed to this project.

   The various quantitative measures indicate that the project was successful in reaching its
   target audience. Moreover, the success and reputation of this project resulted in the
   emergence of an audience that was not initially recognized—librarians across New York
   State, the country and even the world.


4. For the qualitative evaluation results, please provide an analysis and interpretation in
   relation to user satisfaction and/or success.

   From all of the verbal and written feedback that the project has received, it is evident that the
   project has significantly contributed to an increasing level of awareness and knowledge about
   electronic books among librarians. For instance, the following remarks were included in talk
   evaluations:

       !   “I am proud to be a librarian in a community that is taking a lead in this fascinating
           development for libraries.”
       !   “This was one of the best workshops I’ve ever attended. The presenters were very
           knowledgeable, key points were covered cogently.”
       !   “One of the best workshops I have attended in years.”
       !   “All of the valuable information that I wanted and needed to know.”
       !   “Timely, clarified these truly muddy waters”
       !   “This is what we are faced with—very topical! Information we need to make
           decisions both short-term and beyond”

The “Rochester Project,” as this grant has been referred to in the ebook-world, is often cited as a
prototype. For example, the Project Director recently attended a 3-day conference in
Washington DC, entirely devoted to electronic books. This project was mention by several
conference speakers in reference to ebooks in libraries. NIST, the conference sponsors, put a
link to the project’s website from the conference’s homepage. In addition, the project has
received many compliments and words of gratitude from librarians world-wide for providing
open and easy access to all of the information that the project has collected. Moreover, we have
served as consultants in the writing of at least four other ebook grants.

The high level of publicity that the project has received speaks to the quality of it, as well. The
Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester’s largest newspaper, ran two articles about this project on
April 5th and July 1st. Additional articles are planned for the local Brighton & Pittsford Post and
a national library journal and a conference paper is under consideration by Computers in
Libraries. Moreover, the project was featured on Channel 8’s local news broadcast.
A further qualitative evaluation measure is found in the fact that librarians have been willing to
travel across the state and from as far away as Norway, in order to obtain information about
ebooks firsthand from the librarians involved in this project.

Moreover, the differences in the answers to the narrative questions in the pre- and post-project
survey indicate changes in the level of understanding about ebooks by area librarians. When
asked, “what role do you see electronic books playing in the future of your library,” the most
common answers in the pre-project survey were “not sure” or “don’t know.” In the post-project
survey, the answers to that questions were much more substantial, including:
        ! “They’ll play a huge role, gradually replacing printed books in some areas…”
        ! “Just another format that has its place for certain types of info…”
        ! “Ebooks will have a significant impact resulting in improved services to patrons...”
        ! “Once format is standardized and ebook readers and content come down in price,
           ebooks will become standard fare in libraries.”


5. Please provide one or two anecdotes about how this library project affected people who
   received services.

A young woman borrowed the Rocket eBook Reader from Gates Public Library out of personal
curiosity. However, once she started using the reader, she realized that the technology would
have a great many applications in her workplace. As she wrote in her user survey, “I brought the
Rocket Book to work (I work with a bunch of techies) and I spent 20 minutes letting everyone
pass it around and play with it, everyone was totally impressed. They were especially impressed
when I told them I had gotten the book from the Gates Library…” It became apparent to the
library patron and her co-workers that ebooks could solve a problem that their business has been
struggling with for years. Her company publishes local building codes, which are referenced by
hundreds of contractors and inspectors in the field. The cost and time that it takes to update the
codes in printed form dictate that they are only updated a few times a year. Even when the
updates are sent out, however, it is not infrequent that the customer does not take the time
replace and interfile the updated pages. Once the library patron and her co-workers understood
ebook technology, they realized that they could become more efficient and more responsive to
their customer’s needs if they turn the printed codes into digitized texts. Contractors and
inspectors would only have to carry an ebook reader with them in the field, rather than a bulky
book, complete with often misfiled inserts. The codes could be updated at the instant it becomes
necessary and transmitted to their customers via the Internet. Because of this project, a local
business is in the process of developing a new, more efficient business model.

A mother brought a Rocket eBook Reader home from the public library and showed it to her 15-
year old daughter. Her daughter exclaimed, “Wow, Mom, I didn’t know the library had really
cool things like this! Can I take this to school?” Thanks to this project, the local public library
has become a “cool” place for a teenager who is not easily impressed.
                                                   Quantitative Measures
                                             Electronic Book Evaluation Project

Provide summary figures only

1. Number of participating libraries or branches.................................................................................... 6

2. Hours of service per week
                        At each site....................................................................................................... 2.5

                                   Total.................................................................................................................. 15

3. Number of users served .................................................................................................................... 246
4.
5. Number of Reference/Referral transactions...................................................................................... 52

6. Individual counseling/advising                                                                   #Appointments                            #Hours
                        In Library- demo of ebooks to patrons
                                    before circulation                                                          246                            40

                                   Off-site- via phone or email                                                 52                               26

7. Community agencies/businesses
                     Number collaborating in this project ................................................................ N/A

8. Literacy/ESL Projects
                        Number of students recruited .......................................................................... N/A

                                   Number of tutors recruited............................................................................... N/A

                                   Number of instruction hours provided ............................................................. N/A

9. Number of collection purchases by type
                        Print (Volumes) ................................................................................................ N/A

                                   Audio-visual (Items) ......................................................................................... N/A

                                   Other (Specify) .................................................................................................
                                          Electronic book readers ........................................................................ 34
                                          Digital audio players …………………………………………………….. 7
                                          Electronic Books ………………………………………………………… 431
                                          Hewlett Packard Pocket PC.................................................................. 1
                                         Glassbook Reader Software.................................................................. 1


10. Number of bibliographies, publications, publicity prepared............................................................... 7
                        Article for Rochester Regional Library Council’s “Linking Libraries”
                        Article in consideration for Portal, new library science journal from Johns
                          Hopkins University Press
                        Conference paper proposal under consideration for “Computers in Libraries”
                          Conference, 2001
                        Provided information for the following 4 articles
                              “Hot Off the Web”, Democrat & Chronicle, 4/5/00
                              “Six Libraries Test e-Readers,” Democrat & Chronicle, 7/1/00
                              Forthcoming article in Brighton & Pittsford Post
                              Forthcoming article in NISO’s Information Standards Quarterly

11. Number of workshops/programs ....................................................................................................... 12
                                        Total number in attendance............................................................................. 477

12. Number of records digitized............................................................................................................... N/A

13. Number of Websites developed ........................................................................................................ 1

14. Number of LSTA-funded staff on this project
                      Professional personnel (FTE).......................................................................... 1(.5 FTE)

                                        Support personnel (FTE) ................................................................................. N/A

15. Other...................................................................................................................................................

...................................................................................................................................................................
                          List of Libraries that Participated in the
                            Electronic Book Evaluation Project




Fairport Public Library
Gates Public Library
Jefferson Middle School Library
Rochester Institute of Technology Library
Spencerport High School Library
University of Rochester Library

				
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