With the vacation fast approaching, don’t forget that you can access e-books from home, using your Oxford single sign-on (SSO). Most people prefer the feel and convenience of a printed book but electronic books do have their advantages. They provide an alternative to their printed equivalents which are accessible around the clock, even when the libraries are closed or when all library copies are out on loan. Using e-books can also be a way of “borrowing” more books when you have reached the limit of your library account. The ability to perform full text searching in an e-book goes beyond the access provided by the index in a printed book, enabling you to find quotations and search footnotes. E-books also weigh less and are easier to carry!
Most single e-books are catalogued separately on SOLO and records will be found clustered with or very close to their print counterparts. Look out for “[electronic resource]” in your results list then click the “View Online” link. You can also limit your search to “Online Resources”. However, there is normally a bit of a delay between us acquiring an e-book and the record appearing in SOLO.
Not everything - far from it. Until recently, very few music books were available electronically but the number is increasing all the time. However, shortage of funds prevents us from buying everything we’d like so we have tended to concentrate on key texts on reading lists, when they are available.
Until recently, most individual titles have been purchased from the EBSCO Host E-Books Collection (formerly called NetLibrary) so all titles we have purchased from this source can be accessed through their website, even before the record appears in SOLO. These EBSCO e-books have a limited simultaneous user licence meaning that only two people can use them at once but that’s not normally too much of a problem.
Additionally, The Bodleian Libraries have recently started to use EBL (The E-Book Library) which operates on a different model. Once purchased, each e-book comes with an annual allocation of 325 ‘credits’. One credit provides up to 24 hours access to the book per reader but access is not restricted to two simultaneous users. These e-books may also be downloaded to computers or used on most hand-held devices, including iPhones, Androids and various e-book readers (except Kindles). We can use EBL e-books we have purchased for up to 10 minutes without using up any credits but the good thing about EBL is that it also allows free access to any of the e-books in their collection for up to 5 minutes with the option of instantly recommending a title to Library staff for purchase via a simple online form. Once the purchase is approved, the e-book is available for use within 2 minutes. Visit the EBL website to see what's available.
Some e-books come in packages to which we subscribe and these can also be accessed via the publishers’ web pages as well as through SOLO. Such packages include the Cambridge Companions series, the Cambridge Histories and ACLS Humanities E-Books. Records for most of the Cambridge Companions have not yet reached SOLO so, for the time being, search SOLO or OxLIP+ for “Cambridge Companions Online” for access to the individual titles.
Electronic books have their problems and they are not the answer to everyone’s prayers. However, they do have some advantages so please don’t forget they exist. Take some time to explore what’s available and make use of them.