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Re: [ARSCLIST] Two other N.Y. Times article on a different type of digitizing

Matthew Snyder <msnyder@xxxxxxxx> wrote:    Karl Miller wrote:
> Kinda makes me wonder...are libraries going to circulate ebooks and 
iPods loaded with information?

****They aren't "going to." They already are. Many public libraries around the country circulate books as downloadable ebooks which are encoded so that  they can only be listened to for the regular loan period of a physical book. Those digital objects (and yes, it's a widely accepted and used term even far outside the library world) can be listened to on your computer, or on any device you wish to put it on. Some academic libraries are also 
making reserve music recordings available to students as downloadable files also (or in some cases as streaming audio). Some are experimenting with loaning out ipods as well.

I have read of the practice of libraries buying a license for a limited number of downloads and then letting students bring their iPods to the library for a download. This is being done, for the most part, for the required listening for courses. Students are already familiar with this application when they download the audio of lectures. I am also reminded of the MIT project, now almost complete, where all course work is available online. The use of inhouse (on site) electronic access has been with us for some years. That process however, did not require the purchase of a license to vend since such on site access was allowed by law. Without a license to vend, how can a library "loan" a electronic file?
  My curiosity centers on the functionalism of libraries within the context of information available only in digital form. It would seem that in the case of the library providing a download to a student, the library is essentially buying multiple copies, perhaps at a reduced rate, and then giving them out to a selected clientel. The notion of ownership is somehow confused in my mind. In that instance the library is acting as an agent for a supplier. The library does not necessarily need to own the file in the same sense as it would own the CD or book/object...and regardless of how pervasive the use of the term digital object might be, I still believe the use of the term restricts our thinking... my point is that thinking of a file as an object has provided us with copyright laws which are predicated on the notions of there being a physical, object. 
  Until recently, some Universities were able to provide their students with free music downloads. There have been several articles explaining the demise of a service where a vendor provided some of those downloads.  In this instance the University, not the library, made an agreement with a supplier, further, neither the library nor the University held copies of the files.
  My question is, what is the role of the library when the information is without an object?  How does a library serve the public without an object to loan? Should libraries buy iPods and ebooks and load them with files?  Should libraries be concerned with buying downloads of music? Should some library, say Library of Congress, buy one set of the complete iTunes and hold it for future generations? If it did, what should be the limitations on public access? 

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