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Individuals and organizations alike feel the need to adopt or create new methods of doing things. Innovations and technology moves in phases within a given setting be it social or organizational; the process of moving from creation to usage falls under the diffusion of innovation theory. The diffusion theory is synonymous to Everett Rogers whose prominent work ‘Diffusion of Innovations in 1962’ forms the basis of this literature review. He underscores the fact that diffusion is the process by which innovations are transmitted within a social system among its members. His theory states that innovation starts with a few individuals, it spreads to a smaller number who adopts it, then to a relatively large majority and finally to all the society. His theory forms the theoretical framework of this case study on diffusion of EBooks into the library. In reviewing the literature on this area, it is essential to note that literature abound in this area, however, there is difficulty in separating fact from opinion since general literature outstrip research literature (Crawford 2000).
Advantages and disadvantages of eBooks
An eBook is a method of presenting a vast sea of information through a digital platform or hypertext links. EBooks come with vast advantages to both the user and the library. A fundamental advantage of the eBooks arises from its allowance of user flexibility; the information is retrievable from a diverse number of electronic items such as tablets, mobile phones or desktops. A unique blend of flexibility and mobility places EBooks at a conveniently appealing position to the users. The encroachment of EBooks into positions previously occupied by prints stems from their revolutionary mobility and convenience. Library users can carry vast amounts of information comfortably owing to the emergences of small drives such as flash disks that stores huge library materials because EBooks format allow compression into portable memory gadgets. All the library user requires is ownership or proximity to a device that accepts the drive. This property of flexibility is conspicuously lacking in the hard copy type of library, at the same time, hard copy library is devoid of the mobility aspect though, not in totality. The hard library is still mobile, in that users can carry the literature from the library; however, it cannot challenge the extent to which EBook Libraries push the limits of flexibility. Library users of eBooks are at a clear advantage in mobility due to portability of huge material, unlike that hard copy limitation (Dafron 2007).
The traditional print media library continues grapple with the challenge of ensuring safety of its content. It is particularly difficult to ensure that print materials in the library are fireproof. EBook libraries have an advantage over their print counterparts albeit not out of the complete solution but manageability of the safety process. EBooks offer ease of ensuring a safety measure; they are small and as such easier to shield such library buildings at easier costs. However, research from the Association of Colleges and Research Libraries (ACRL) indicates that the most outstanding advantage of e-libraries concerning safety is the ability of e-libraries to offer back-up systems. The back-up system ensures storage of a duplicate copy of the same library information at another place and within a different but linked language. The modern technological advancement that allows attachment and maintenance of information on electronic mail platforms enhances this. EBooks and other electronic material are, therefore, capable of preservation within a safe platform. The mail platforms such as web server Gmail, Yahoo mail among others also enhance portability of material. Users, upon creating the web mail accounts can attach the eBook files and retrieve them later from their mails. An e-Library stands to gain from technology advancements such as cloud computing among others that minimize data storage capacities while ensuring safe and virtual storages (ACRL 2010).
EBooks is introducing a cost reducing method, trends in all social arenas points out that key in adoption of a new system is a clear demonstration of its cost-reducing ability. Indeed, users of EBooks stand to reap cost reduction advantages in a number of ways. First, since multiple users of the library can access EBooks simultaneously through remote computers. The library can to charge fewer amounts for the same resource as such afford. The library may previously have been charging a high price since a number of print materials needed purchasing and maintenance. The users of the e-library also save on individual cost accruing in the quest of accessing library information such as transportation to the library. Economists from the World Bank argue that there is an opportunity cost of visiting a library instead of attending to other duties; EBooks remedy this by allowing virtual visits (Canning & David 1998).
On the other hand, Library of Michigan accountants, under accounting for e-Libraries, argue that everything has its useful life, and in determining the useful life of a utility rendering commodity, its depreciation cost is used. Print library have a higher cost through wear and tear since the books, wear out ultimately and hence less usefulness. Tied to the cost advantage is the clear advantage of low maintenance. Libraries using EBooks are able to maintain the library at cheaper costs; their prominent cost driver is maintenance of a web platform or the electronic system. There is a reduction in the bulk print repair costs, which may translate into library user advantage through better services. Usability of material and measurements becomes easy by an electronic regime. Libraries can monitor costs of usages. Users will benefit since they can receive emails of content borrowed or accessed and their cots. This aids users in tracking costs and keeping records (Miller & Ruth 2000).
E-libraries offer a distinctive advantage to their users through flexibility. In a world deeply excelling in research and refining information, a system allowing inclusion of such refinements offers more advantage. Libraries face the challenge of having a system of acknowledging refuted claims, negated truths and accepted hypothesis. EBooks-using libraries are demonstrating their ability to respond to changes of content and updating of the same with no rival. The library users gain the advantage of update on certain texts. Research and observation makes it clear that it is expensive to edit books and update information. In updating new information, print libraries lag behind since they must wait for new publications and issues. The print library puts the user at a disadvantage in timing reception of new information. The EBooks library is also advantageous to library users concerned with quick evolving knowledge domains such as technology, corporate affairs among others (Dafron 2007).