This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

October 20, 1999 - NetLibrary

By Holly Deni

I'm here to report that rumors of the demise of the paper and ink book, in my opinion, are wildly exaggerated. It is true that electronic books are out there, lurking on the pages of the mail order catalog and taking up air space in the information cloud that now rings the earth. And do you know what? I'm surprised to say that I kind of like them.

Here at DPLD, we've recently "gone live" with our first public experiment in the world of electronic publishing. We've subscribed to a service called netLibrary (sic). netLibrary is a Boulder-based company on the cutting edge of the electronic publishing revolution. They've negotiated with many, many publishing houses to acquire the rights to publish books that can be seen on screen rather than in print.

netLibrary has presented us with the opportunity to build our first e-book library right on our Internet terminals. Basically, the way it works is that a patron will come into any DPLD branch, go to our home page and click on the "library catalog and state resources" link. One level down from here, you'll see a place to click on netLibrary. From there, if you wish to use this product from your home computer, you'll need to take a few minutes to fill out a very short patron profile (all information given is confidential, just as all your library records are).If you do so, in a few minutes you'll have an open door to the world of electronic books.

Why, you might ask, would you want to explore an e-book when the print version has served perfectly well up until now? One reason might be that all the print titles we own on a particular subject are already checked out by others. Another reason might be that an early-winter snow squall has rendered you housebound when you have a presentation due first thing the next morning. Going to the netLibrary page will give you a way of getting instant access to books, 24-hours a day, in an electronic format that exactly duplicates the print version (down to including the dedication page, footnotes and all pictures and charts), from your home Internet connection while still in your pjs.

Not only do you get instant access, but there are some really cool things that an e-book can do that the print equivalent can't even attempt. For example, you can go to the index of the e-books at netLibrary, find the word or phrase you're interested in, click on it and go directly to that page and that word instantly. You can enter a search phrase or a name and search across the entire DPLD netLibrary catalog for occurrences of same. You can move quickly from highlighted phrase to highlighted phrase throughout the book. You can even download an image or a chart to a gif file and re-paste it into a paper you're working on or a power point presentation you're developing (provided, of course, that you comply with copyright law by making the proper citation to the source).

You can simply browse through titles and tables of content, stopping to take a brief look at a few section of text, or you may virtually check out the title for a 4 hour period (seems like a short use period, but really, just how long can you last, reading from a computer screen). At the end of your four hour window, the book will disappear from your home electronic library; if no one else has asked for it, you can check it out again... and again.

You can develop your own set of library shelves that will house information on all your favorite titles. Best news of all - there are no fines!

Of course, because this technology is still pretty new, you can count on netLibrary to go through several permutations in the next year or so. Right now, DLPD's netLibrary consists of about 250 titles. We'll be adding a few more this year, then we'll wait to see what the public response is. The subjects of the e-books we've chosen to buy include: Colorado history, natural history, computer software, information technology, sports coaching, business and personnel management, small business information and social issues. So far, there are no fiction titles, but those aren't far down the road.

Come by and ask any of our reference librarians to give you an introductory tour of the netLibrary world. Then go home and brag to all your friends that you've just experienced the 21st century firsthand.

Holly Deni is a guest columnist and the Associate Director for Support Services at DPLD.

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