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Students using e-books

College professors are starting to use e-books in their classes more frequently.

That's according to a survey conducted by the Educause Center for Analysis and Research. Twenty-six percent of undergrads said they did not use an e-book in class. But 35 percent said they used e-books in one class, and 22 percent said they used an e-book in a few classes.

Texts in digital form should certainly be cheaper to produce and distribute. So, that's a big advantage, given the other high prices attached to getting a degree these days.


E-book prices: Way too high

New data from the Urban Libraries Council show the outrageous prices libraries have to pay publishers for e-books.

They just published a two-page report on the subject, noting that none of the six largest publishers sell or license e-books for public libraries to access in the same way we do print books. "Three have adopted pricing policies that make e-books more expensive than print editions," the Council notes, even though the materials cost to publish an e-book is near zero.

The Council gives an example, the price to buy Justin Cronin's "The Twelve." Print edition: $15.51. E-book cost on Amazon: $9.99. Cost to library: $84.

The Council's conclusion is dead-on: "Publishers' inequitable practices hurt the communities and constituents who depend on their public libraries to provide unrestricted access to information."

Save a few bucks

If you haven't checked out the services you can link to at our catalog website, you are leaving money on the table.

You may not be interested in taking classes on various software programs or in searching for a job or reading a free magazine online, but you might be interested in the goodies available via our World Book link.

With your free library card, you get access through World Book to a whole wide world's worth of daily newspapers, including The New York Times digital edition, the American-Statesman digital edition and the Houston Chronicle digital edition. In the physical world, you would pay to have that access.

And that's just one aspect of what World Book online offers.

Do yourself a favor: check it out.

The fix is (not) in

Want to fix American public education?

Give every child a tablet computer!


Give every child emotional maturity instruction!


Give every child a well-paid teacher!


Well, what, then?

The New York Times Magazine devoted its pages to education on Sunday, and those suggestions stand out from others given by various "experts" in the articles.

None really resonated with me, though, like the comment piece that did not make it into the magazine but that was published on Page 5 in the Editorial section of the regular edition.

James J. Heckman begins with this sentence: "What's missing in the current debate over economic inequality is enough serious discussion about investing in effective early childhood development from birth to age 5." And then he makes his case.

Heckman is right. In another life as a journalist and community volunteer I had the good fortunte to be among a small group of people who got to see brain imaging research on young children that showed the effects of things like being read to, being held, being loved, being talked to. I became and remain convinced that early childhood education is critically important -- more important than anything else we could spend money on.

Instead, though, we are busy cutting Head Start and other programs for poor children.

A guy I knew once left me with a phrase I'll never forget: "It's a poor bird that dirties its own nest."

We are dirty birds indeed.

Out front in San Antonio

Reading about the new Connect area at the San Antonio Public Library just is not going to cut it. The more I read, the more I want to drive down there and see it for myself.

The facility just opened to the public, and everyone in the library business is buzzing about Connect, which is a place where you can access all kinds of technologies -- everything from very high-speed Internet to portable devices.

"Connect is an innovative, sleek 12,800 square foot space located at our Central Library downtown. Connect provides free, faster Wi-Fi that can handle more users; reduces public wait time by providing 114 desktop computers as well as 15 laptops, and 20 Google Nexus tablets for check-out; provides easier access to training opportunities; and educates about emerging technologies through our Technology Test Drive that features the OverDrive Media Stations." That quote comes from a public relations source, but it's not hype.

Sounds like the library of the future.