Guest Blog by Ryan Patrick, OLA Store Coordinator

Thanks, Ryan, for sharing your idea with us!

Like many Canadians who have received electronic readers over the past year I have gone through the steps in setting up accounts, downloading apps, trouble shooting and jumping through the hoops to be able to download e-books from the library on to my reader. Well, trying to download e-books. Unfortunately most of the e-books at the public library are currently on loan and so I wait on the waiting list with others until the book I’ve requested becomes available – much as I would for a new book “in print”.

That’s when I think… this is crazy. In the world of cyberspace and the globalization of the Internet why am I limited to my municipality’s or city’s e-book selection. Why can’t I log on to any library system in Ontario, for that matter Canada, and download the book that I want? Why are municipal libraries using more and more of their funding to put into electronic resources to then turn around and say that they are only for their patrons and not for folks outside of their constituent boundaries? Why do we not let libraries do what they do best – serving patrons on a face to face basis in our local library? Why don’t we put our collective efforts into a lobby for the federal government to create an e-book lending service for all Canadians? Or at least start provincially – with an e-book lending service for all Ontarians? Local public libraries can continue to offer print books and e-readers, as well as programs and personal service.

Now I realize with the above model I still maybe on a waiting list for the book I am looking to download but I would imagine that I would receive it sooner and the potential of a virtual Nation library is something that should get us all excited. Think of benefits to patrons if we added a social layer, like Bibliocommons or similar, to the site, giving people the ability to interact with others reading the same or similar books across the country and share thoughts and stories. I am sure publishers and authors would appreciate the statistics portion of the site; imagine knowing how many people in Canada checked out your e-book!

In this political age of downloading services- and digital age of potentially equitable services – isn’t e-book lending something we need to push back up to the provincial or federal levels — to give a “level” e-reading playing field for all Ontarians or Canadians?