It's Time for a National Digital-Library System: But it can't serve only elites
Page length: 6 pages.
David H. Rothman
Among other things, a well-stocked online national public-library system would help make American students more competitive with their counterparts in other countries. It could also help correct the many deficiencies of library e-books today, as documented by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, which has wisely suggested a national buying pool to keep costs down and help libraries control their own destinies, rather than just tagging along behind vendors. A common procurement system of one kind or another would be a natural component of a national digital-library system. For now, public libraries offer just a tiny fraction of the more than 800,000 e-books available through Amazon's Kindle store — itself a far from complete assortment — while millions of elementary- and secondary-school students are using obsolete textbooks.