What do you call a whole new way to look at books? How can you describe something that will enable you to read thousands of books, research every word in a book and do so 24-hours a day? Call it a revolution.
At Texas A&M International University's Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, it's called netLibrary and it is redefining reading and books as we know them.
The "books" in the NetLibrary are electronic or eBooks, and are integrated on-line into the Library's catalog. Over 13,600 titles are currently available, with more being added every day, said Renée J. LaPerrière, reference librarian.
"This is a revolution in Library services and in how students and Library patrons can access information, " she explained, "you are able to read eBooks on-line, print off-line, conduct sophisticated keyword or full text power-searches, and even check out eBooks for a 24-hour period. The entire array of services is available from every computer in the Library as well as by remote access for those having a University account."
The collection of eBooks available is impressive and is growing, she noted.
"NetLibrary is the premier provider of electronic books through exclusive agreements with all major publishing houses, including many who publish scholarly and professional books. NetLibrary is continuing to add additional publishers daily, from small to large publishing houses and everything in-between," she said
LaPerrière said the new internet-based service, in place since early this Fall, has proven popular with students, especially for those working on research papers and special projects.
"The search functions are especially elaborate and become more so as you tailor your search. You could search for specific references, quotes, phrases in the entire text...all in seconds. There's even an on-line dictionary,enabling you to look up definitions as you read the text," she said.
LaPerrière said eBooks are simply electronic versions of printed books.
"They have the same information, are enriched with photos and illustrations, and can be viewed on-line from any computer with access to the Internet. You can preview eBooks for quick reference, check them out and read them at your leisure and, because they're on-line, they're available to you anytime, anywhere. You don't even have to worry about returning them - eBooks are automatically returned at the end of the check out period...and there are never any late fees," she noted.
Of additional benefit to the Library is the ability to gauge user preferences and usage trends.
"We will be able to have data on usage areas that have high interest by our netLibrary users and this may actually inform how we build our future collections and approach new acquisitions," she explained.
LaPerrière said that while eBooks offer remarkable access and convenience, she doesn't believe that they can ever truly take the place of a tangible book.
"NetLibrary and eBooks are certainly creating a richer, more relevant reading and research experience for users by reducing the constraints usually imposed by time and location, but there's something about a book that can never truly be replaced," she said.
For more information on the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library's netLibrary service, please contact the Library's reference desk at 326.2138.
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