Sue Polanka Discusses E-books, E-readers, and Librarians

By Daniel A. Freeman |

In 2 weeks, Sue Polanka's ALA TechSource Workshop Integrating E-Books and E-Readers into Your Library will begin. I spoke with Sue a bit about the popularity in e-readers, what she'll cover in her workshop and what attendees can learn.

Dan Freeman: So we all know that e-readers are exploding in popularity. There’s a lot being written and a lot of new products coming out. For librarians, what is the most important thing (or things) to understand?

Sue Polanka: Formats, compatibility, eReaders and eReading apps, and the myriad procedures necessary to begin an eReader lending program. 

DF: What topics will you be covering in the workshop?

SP: The first workshop is focused on purchasing eBooks; evaluating vendor offerings and business models and patron driven acquisition plans. We'll allso discuss access issues. The second workshop is all about eReader devices. We'll discuss the various types and formats, compatibility with library collections, and best practices for eReader lending programs.

DF: Do you think we're at the point where e-books and e-readers are a must-have for libraries? If not, will we be there soon?

SP: Yes, we've been at that point for a while now. Ebooks are at the tipping point, each day we get more and more questions about the books and readers. If we cannot answer these questions or provide services to support them, our users will not connect libraries with ebooks. 

DF: So what will the goal of your workshop be? What will librarians who attend be able to do afterward?

SP: Gernally speaking, the goal is for them learn, to share, to question, and to walk away with ideas for creating or improving their eBook collections and programs. My goal is to motivate all who attend to experiment with eBooks and eReaders and to keep/get them up-to-date with some of the eBook trends and future predictions. I also hope the attendees bring lots of questions for me, to make certain the content is focused on their needs. By the way, I'm happy to take questions in advance, just email me at

DF: Which librarians do you think need the information in your workshop the most? In other words, what job titles do the people who will make e-reader-related decisions in their libraries usually have?

SP: Any and all job titles. One thing I've learned is that developing an eReader lending program for the library is a group effort. Collection development, reference, circulation, acquisition, cataloging, and IT were all involved in the Wright State University Library program. 

DF:Given that e-readers are such a rapidly changing field right now—it seems like a new device is released every week—are you going to provide strategies for tracking the e-reader market so librarians can stay on top of the latest technologies?

SP: Yes, I'll provide a list of resources and offer suggestions for tracking the changing ebook environment. 

The workshop will take place on Thursdays January 25th and February 1st, 2011 at 4:30pm Eastern/3:30 Central/2:30 Mountain/1:30 Pacific. You can register at the ALA Store.