Last month, Harlequin announced an interesting initiative. In a press release distributed by Overdrive, Inc., Harlequin indicated they would make many of their "novels available as downloadable eBooks through library websites."
Overdrive, which describes itself as "a leading digital book vendor for libraries and retailers," uses a platform designed for libraries so that they can lend virtual copies of books to patrons. The Digital Library Reserve (DLR) platform offers libraries 24/7 access to the books the library has purchased.
According to DLR, library "(p)atrons download and enjoy their selected eBooks, digital audio books, or other digital media anytime and anywhere." DLR boasts that the library can set its own loan periods and checkout maximums. "Best of all, items are automatically checked in."
Among the libraries using DLR are the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the New York Public Library, the Boston Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the Denver Public Library.
The Executive VP for Strategy and new Business Development for Harlequin said, "This partnership allows us to share our entertaining and diverse women's fiction catalogue with both first-time and loyal readers in an exciting new format."
Under the DLR testimonial page, a librarian is quoted as saying that patrons are "able to borrow, read and return a book without having to leave their home, and the automatic return feature means no fine."
Perhaps the libraries of the future will not be a bricks-and-mortar building so much as a virtual library website that patrons can browse from the convenience of their homes, checking out materials that are automatically erased from their computers at pre-set times.