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E-books FAQ

What kinds of e-books are available at UMaine?
Why is the library buying e-books?
What’s different about e-books in an academic library context?
Can I download library e-books to a computer or e-reader device?
Can the library buy any e-book that is available on Amazon, Google Ebooks, or other commercial sites?
Are there any problematic issues in libraries providing e-books?
How do the online editions compare to the print editions of books?
How are decisions made about e-books for the library?
Where do I go for more information about e-books in the library?

What kinds of e-books are available now at UMaine?

Fogler Library currently provides access to more than 180,000 e-books. Search URSUS for specific titles, authors, and subjects, or browse some of the large groups of e-books from our Indexes and Databases web page http://www.library.umaine.edu/indexesdb/Indexes.asp:

Why is the library buying e-books?

E-books are available 24/7, regardless of library building hours. E-books also help support distance learners, a growing segment of our student population, as well as others who prefer to access books online. Purchasing e-books can help with shelf space issues in the building. Finally, some titles are ONLY being published as e-books!

What’s different about e-books in an academic library context?

  • Library license agreements for e-books include varying levels of digital rights management, also called DRM, which can limit such things as how many users can view an e-book at the same time, whether it can be downloaded or shared, how many pages can be printed, etc.

  • Some e-books for libraries are only available for subscription, not purchase

  • E-books are often more expensive for libraries than print books

Can I download library e-books to a computer or e-reader device?

It depends. See a chart showing access types for major e-book collections at UMaine.

Most e-books that are made available to library users in standard PDF, HTML, or text file formats may be downloaded to or viewed with any device or computer that can open those formats. This is generally true of e-books that are purchased directly from the publisher and are available on their web site, such as Springer, Wiley, Elsevier/ScienceDirect, Oxford, Cambridge, ACM, and Synthesis Digital Library. Often downloads are chapter by chapter, rather than the entire book.

Many e-books the library has purchased or subscribes to may be viewed on-screen using a web browser while you are connected to the site, but are not available for download. These restrictions are due to digital rights management (DRM) imposed by the publisher.

Popular reading e-books in the Maine Infonet Download Library may be downloaded to a variety of personal reading devices.

Can the library buy any e-book that I see available on Amazon, Google Ebooks or other commercial sites?

No, libraries are not allowed to license Kindle e-books as well as many other titles that are sold for use by individuals. Sometimes this means that Fogler is unable to purchase a book at all for our collection, until it is made available in print or through a vendor that licenses e-books to libraries.

Are there any problematic issues in libraries providing e-books?

Yes, the major one is that licenses and digital rights management (DRM) can prevent sharing or interlibrary loan of the e-book in electronic format, though sharing portions of an e-book via a digital or printed excerpt may be allowed. Also, some students and faculty prefer to read books in print format only.

How do the online editions compare to the print editions of books?

Generally the content is the same, but the e-book format or platform may allow keyword searching within the book, electronic note-taking, and other features. For reference works, the online versions are more like a database, with continual updates and additions by the publisher as needed (e.g. American National Biography or the Oxford English Dictionary). Depending on the publisher, the electronic and print formats are not necessarily available at the same time. For many scholarly publishers, print is available before the e-book, and the opposite is often true for popular and self-published titles.

How are decisions made about e-books for the library?

Librarians and faculty may recommend a print or online format for a single title at the point of ordering. Groups of e-books that fit curriculum needs or correspond to prior print acquisitions may be purchased or subscribed based on distance courses offered, subject area, and cost differential. Some books that the library receives on an automated purchase plan, primarily in the sciences, are delivered as e-books rather than in print. Finally, some e-books are not selected per se, but are included in large databases such as Academic Search Complete that are subscribed primarily for their journal content.

Where do I go for more information about e-books in the library?

Contact your subject librarian or Deb Rollins, Head of Collection Services (581-1659).


Created by: Deb Rollins | Revised: 06/25/2014
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University of Maine
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