By Chelsea Murray, Quill & Quire
British Columbia librarians are one small step closer to achieving the goal of a fully digitized library system with the launch earlier this month of its B.C. Books Online project. Coordinated by a consortium of librarians and publishers, the project has resulted in the digitization of 650 non-fiction titles by various B.C. publishers, all of which are now available as e-books that users can access from any computer.
The beta version of B.C. Books Online will be available through 12 libraries across the province until June 2011. The project will be expanded after that, depending on the consortium’s ability to secure further funding. The beta version was funded by the University of British Columbia’s Irving Barber Centre and the UBC Library, which together donated $40,000, and the Vancouver Public Library and Simon Fraser University, which gave $3,000 each.
“It’s creating an online legacy of B.C. titles,” says Margaret Reynolds, executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of B.C., adding that local publishers – including Arsenal Pulp Press, D&M Publishers, New Star Books, Orca Books, and several others – were happy to lend titles and to help shape the digital library. “We’re breaking new ground and we don’t know what it’s going to look like at the end of [the day]. The publishers have been very supportive of this project right from the very beginning.”
So far, all of the titles in the B.C. Books Online collection are backlist works pertaining to B.C. culture and history, and the authors and publishers of those titles will be receiving the usual library royalty payments. But because the program’s technical kinks are still being worked out, publishers and authors aren’t being paid yet. “Access to [all of the titles] was granted free of charge for the duration of the beta period, and all of the publishers had to go back to the authors because there were no digital rights in the original contracts,” says B.C. Books Online coordinator Leigh Anne Palmer.
The new e-book lending system works like a journal database. Users log in to a particular library’s website, search the catalogue, then open a document on their computer. Users can adjust font sizes and employ audio-visual reading aids. But when users log out of the library’s website, the book becomes inaccessible. “It’s like reading it in the library, then returning it back to the shelf,” says Reynolds, “except that you can do it all from your computer.”
Maiores informações sobre o projeto: www.bcbooksonline.ca