Answered By: Ken Winter
Last Updated: Jun 05, 2017     Views: 30

E-books are in an early state of evolution and present some complications for a library like VDOT's. E-book collections are available from EBSCO, Knovel, ASCE and Books24x7. See our A-Z Resources page

Right now VDOT employees have access to large "collections" of e-books that we can make available everyone for unlimited use.  That's the good news! 

The not so good news is that the e-book you want may not be available in one of our "collections," or it may be available but in a "screen only" version (when you want to download to an iPad), or in a format your e-book reader can't utilize. 

Here are some of the complicating factors we have to deal with regarding e-books: 

Issue 1: E-books contain Digital Rights Management (DRM) protocols, which can make it difficult or impossible for us to "loan" an E-Book, even to a single patron. While in theory we could purchase an e-book for a patron (which is against library policy), we might not even have a way to deliver the e-book the way we can ship you a print book. Plus, we might not be able to get it back from you. 

Issue 2: A single dominant e-book format has yet to emerge, making the future of library e-book collections uncertain. While the .EPUB and .PDF formats are common now, will they be around in 5-10 years? Instead of purchasing e-books right now we're leasing them with a wait-and-see approach. 

Issue 3: E-books require a reading device and we're also uncertain about the long-term future of e-book reading devices. At this time there is no dominant e-book reader and neither VDOT nor the VDOT Library purchases purchase or loans e-book reading devices. 

Issue 4: Availability and pricing for e-books remains problematic, especially in the world of Transportation. Many core publishers in transportation do not offer titles VDOT personnel need in an electronic format, period! In some cases, popular titles are available but at an elevated price or with excessive access controls that make them the kinds of books only one person could ever use. Not good. 

Conclusion: With e-books we could end up spending more money on resources that are less easy for you to use. Our general policy is not to purchase any materials that can only be used by a single VDOT employee, whether that means they are tied to a specific patron, a specific device or are "non-transferrable" for other reasons.

For questions or to discuss your needs, please contact: Gilbert.Kenner@vdot.virginia.gov