Tag Archives: Christchurch City Libraries

3 Things Your Kindle Can’t Do….But Other Ereaders Can

Once again New Zealand libraries are fighting to remain relevant, this time in the provision of ebooks.

We’ve just celebrated the launch of two major ebook lending initiatives and now this has been overshadowed by the sale of Kindle ereaders in New Zealand stores.

Paul Sutherland from Christchurch City Libraries provided a  succinct overview of the dilemma on the PUBSIG listserv last week.

Hi all

Overlooking the issue of the good and evil of DRM and the
relative merits of vendors such as Overdrive, Wheelers etc
many New Zealand libraries have invested in E-books from
Overdrive, and three Public Library consortia are about to
enter into that investment with Overdrive. And many more
will with Wheelers new platform.

Currently these two platforms and others such as the less
Public Library orientated players such as NetLibrary all
have common file formats.

They all offer PDF of ePub - with or with out DRM.

You may know that the Amazon Kindle does not play PDF
- or ePub.

There may be ways to get these onto a Kindle - a quck
google will reveal some tips - but we as Libraries cannot
recommend such measures that may circumvent the DRM layers

Earlier this year Overdrive announced a partnership with
Amazon that would see Overdrive titles usable on Kindle
And the rumour is that this will happen in September -
and possibly coincide with the release of the Harry Potter
franchise into the eBook world

But only in the US - for now! (for probably a long while...)

So why does this matter to us?
Well Dick Smith and Woolworths (in Australia) and Countdown
supermarkets in New Zealand, had announced that as from the
end of August they will be selling Kindle ereaders in
their stores. And now they are here.

So my question is how do we tell our customers - something
like - "Don't buy a Kindle if you want to use the library
 - buy a Kobo, or Sony or an Ipad or an Android."

"Or sorry that you bought a Kindle without asking us
first... It just won't work with the library."

We have some info on our website, directing people to
the Overdrive compatible list.

What have others done - or will do?

Or do we just not worry?


In my view, it’s time to stop being so polite and apologetic. If libraries are to remain relevant and a part of society, we need to aggressively promote our ebook collections. (We need to do lots of other things too, but that’s for another post. :-))

There are enough alternatives in the NZ ereader market to satisfy our reading public. You don’t even need a dedicated ereader to read ebooks. We must help our customers make a decision.

This is a perfect opportunity to tell our customers that you can’t use your Kindle ereader to borrow ebooks from the library because Amazon won’t let it. It’s not the fault of libraries. But if libraries don’t let customers know, then who will? Some Dick Smith salespeople may for the first week, but not all. And after that who will?

Now is not the time to rely on customers finding the ereader guides we have on our websites. We must be visible and we must have a simple message. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Because it may be too late by then.

So here’s a suggestion:

3 things your Kindle can’t do….but other ereaders can

  1. Borrow ebooks from the library
    Your library has a wide selection of ebooks that you can borrow – bestsellers, business, languages, and more. Amazon doesn’t allow your Kindle ereader to download these books, but all other ereaders will work.
  2. Share ebooks with friends and family
    Ebooks from your library can easily be borrowed by friends and family, just like any other book. Amazon doesn’t allow your Kindle ereader to borrow these books, but all other ereaders will work.
  3. Buy and read ebooks from other stores
    Your library doesn’t play favourites. It purchases ebooks from many publishers and checks that they can be read using a variety of ereaders. Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t play so nicely. Amazon won’t let New Zealand libraries buy their ebooks, and they also won’t  allow your Kindle ereader to purchase ebooks from other stores.

Use your Kindle ereader for buying new books, and another ereader to borrow books from the library.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below or via email and please feel free to use the bits that you find useful.

Other articles that may interest you:

A version of this article appeared in Library Life: Te Rau Ora, 7 September 2011.

Social Media Influence Of Public Libraries

The previous article in this series looked at the number of Facebook and Twitter followers of New Zealand public libraries.

The number of followers or likes provides a simple measure of a library’s social media success. But it doesn’t tell you how effectively you are engaging with them. There are several tools that can help you measure your level of influence, with Klout.com being the most popular at the moment.

Klout measures your social media influence across the three biggest social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, and assigns a Klout score from 1 to 100 based on your ability to drive action. Aaron Tay analysed the most influential libraries on Twitter using Klout, but didn’t include New Zealand libraries, so here they are:

<click on image to enlarge it>

As you can see the top 5 are:

  1. Christchurch City Libraries – by Aaron Tay’s ranking, Christchurch would rank well within the top 10 of all libraries, which is no easy accomplishment. Alison Wallbutton wrote an article earlier this year on Christchurch’s Twitter strategy which provides some really useful starting points for libraries to consider.
  2. Auckland Libraries – I think they’re still finding their feet after the transition into a super city and merging several Facebook and Twitter accounts into one will have affected their score. Klout also doesn’t appear to have recognised their Facebook presence so I’d be disappointed if their Klout score wasn’t above 50 before the end of the year.
  3. Wellington City Libraries – a strong Facebook presence with lots of engagement but it doesn’t seem to have been linked to their Klout.com profile. Expect a higher rating next time.
  4. Waimakariri District Libraries – a surprise for the top 5 especially as they only have a Twitter presence. However their Twitter presence is unique. At least once a day they tweet the first lines from a book with a link to their catalogue  – “follow our firstlines and let a book hook you“. Simple and obviously influential.
  5. Central Hawkes Bay Libraries – and just pipping Dunedin too. I found it very difficult to find their Facebook page which happens to be a profile rather than a business page (for the differences, click here). They were the only library to have a profile rather than a business page, and as such this may have influenced their Klout score.

I did consider writing my next article on some best practice social media tips but decided there was enough food for thought here. If you would like to discuss how your library could improve its social media presence please do get in touch.

If Disaster Strikes Have You Considered…

Recently Carolyn Robertson, Christchurch City Libraries Manager wrote a brief post on the LIANZA website about her attendance at the LIANZA Waikato/Bay of Plenty Weekend School.

I also attended the weekend school and the stories Carolyn shared about the impact of the February earthquake on Christchurch City Libraries were compelling and heart-wrenching. Carolyn’s stories also made me realise that there are some practical questions your library should consider, that may not be covered in a civil emergency plan.

1. Do you have all your work contacts, up-to-date and on your mobile phone?
After the September 2010 earthquake, Christchurch City Libraries made it a priority to maintain an up-to-date list of mobile phone numbers for all key staff. Rather than this list residing on an intranet, it was added to the mobile phones of all key staff, just in case. And the value of this simple action became immediately apparent a few months later – libraries were one of the few services that were able to reach, reassure and regroup their staff quickly.

2. How would you communicate with your community if your library building was taken out by a disaster?
I follow Christchurch City Libraries on Twitter (@ChristchurchLib) and I learnt more about what was going on at their libraries and throughout Christchurch than from ANY other source. It seemed as if they were tweeting within hours of the earthquake, and kept up a steady stream of information from then on. They also communicated all official Council information through their Twitter stream, and updated library borrowers on what was happening. No doubt numerous communication channels were used, but for me it definitely reinforced the importance and value of social media as a means of communicating with our borrowers and community.

3. How quickly could you begin operating again if your server was affected by a disaster?
Our reliance on technology and being connected has never been greater – some of us are at a complete loss as to what to do when the internet misbehaves and we can’t access information when we want to. Imagine what would happen to your library’s operations if your hard drive or server  was affected by a disaster. Most libraries will have their server located off-site with maybe even a backup in another city. And with cloud computing gaining prominence it may also be wise to explore this option more seriously. I know of one global consultancy that was fully operational within an hour (delay due to updating others in the business) of the Christchurch earthquake thanks to the cloud.

Two others who have bravely shared their earthquake experiences online are:

  • Sarah Gallagher, Information Manager at Boffa Miskell, who has become a librarian without a library and
  • The Aotearoa People’s Network who entered their offices at the National Library of New Zealand’s Christchurch building for the first time on 18 May 2011.

Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted. How are you spending your time?

A version of this article appeared in Library Life: Te Rau Ora, 31 May 2011.