Kindle Lending Programs in Libraries Update

Thanks to Montrese Hamilton, Librarian for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va., for sharing an update on the results from a series of listserv inquiries she made regarding Kindle lending programs in libraries.

Read on…

Recently, I wrote a summary of responses to my survey of three Special Libraries Association discussion lists about using the Kindle, Amazon’s electronic document reader, in library settings. The questions were well-received and more replies arrived after my wrap-up was posted so I return with new comments below, edited for brevity.

Also, the Minnesota Department of Transportation Library volunteered to make their Kindle user survey available to readers; access the Minnesota Department of Transportation Library Kindle user survey here.To ask questions about the survey instrument, contact the library by email or through their Web site.

Finally, Amazon recently announced a new feature that will allow Kindle users to loan their e-books to other users of the Kindle device or application. Only those books approved for lending by the rights holder will be lending-enabled.


After testing Kindle lending in a pilot program, this respondent noted how users liked the portability of reading material, the ability to preview books before purchase, and the number and diversity of titles they could store conveniently. Users still have access to the physical library and the library is always willing to purchase books which interest them.

The respondent did not receive any comments about the ability to store non-book documents and found the Kindle inadequate for viewing PDFs in a readable size. [Note: Kindle software update 2.5 added the ability to pan and zoom within PDF documents.]

One program participant increased his interactions with the Library significantly during his use of the Kindle. He purchased his own device and returned to the previous pattern of occasionally contacting the library. However, the library developed a closer relationship with trial participants and is more likely to be included in future projects and research queries.


The terms of service for Kindles do not allow for organizational lending (unless Amazon has made a change in the last year) … not yet heard [of] Amazon enforcing it. [Note: There is no indication at present if the forthcoming e-book lending feature mentioned above will address organization-to-individual lending.]

Regarding response about disability issues; [search the] literature for the universities that ran a Kindle pilot for textbook [in 2009]. The courts ruled [that Kindles] were not adequate for those with disabilities and the university could not use them as a textbook platform. Not all books can be read to you as the publisher has the right to turn off that option. The menus also cannot be read to you.


This respondent placed four Kindle DXs into circulation. They did quite a bit of research before implementing this program as many libraries seem to be interpreting Amazon’s terms of use differently (some have claimed that an Amazon rep. said circulating Kindles is OK, while others have not done so at the suggestion of their legal counsel).

The library began circulating our Kindles in conjunction with a staff book discussion group, partially to promote the devices and also to circulate more copies [of the book]. They store the whole library on each device (fewer than 20 titles so far) and the devices are kept in a locked server/storage room to which only library staffers have access. The Kindles are deactivated when they circulate so the user can’t use the credit card that is tied to the library’s Amazon account.

Many people who check out the Kindles are seeing if they’d like to purchase one for themselves. When clients who have already used a Kindle request an article or report, some have asked if a Kindle version is available. The library has investigated uploading PDF reports on all the Kindles — seems very doable and useful, but they are undecided about which reports would be most valuable to upload.

*You can contact Montrese Hamilton, MSLS, at montrese.hamilton[at]shrm.org.


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