One of the harbingers of how fruitful the continued marriage of technology and research can better serve the future is found in the status of the New York Public Library’s position on electronically borrowing books. One can head off to the NYPL eBooks online library and actually check out books by downloading them to your home computer.
These downloaded books are “time bombed” to expire at the end of three weeks so instead of taking the book back to the library you just let the book expire on your hard drive. There are certainly sticky copyright issues that must continue to be dealt with in the internet “borrow but don’t return” lending scheme for libraries; but for those who understand eBooks are good for authors and publishers and libraries the concern over digital rights borrowing can be resolved in the greater favor of the consumer.
Publishers will rent individual licenses for their books that will expire the same way a parking space expires after you purchase its limited use for a quarter. eBooks, for libraries everywhere, means they can finally sustain a relationship with their patrons beyond the walls of their libraries.