Overdrive/Libby “Availability” Problem
It has come to our attention that Overdrive/Libby is showing that some titles are available when, in fact, they are not. People are happily trying to check out “available” popular titles like Where the Crawdads Sing only to be told, after several clicks, that it is not immediately available and they should put a hold on it. We realize things are frustrating enough these days and nobody needs this. We apologize. We are assured Overdrive is working to fix this glitch. Put the hold on the book anyway. We check the holds list and buy extra copies for items in high demand. If you want to know more, click read more.
Overdrive has an option called “Cost per Circulation,” or CPC, where an individual library can make certain titles immediately available to its patrons, if it is willing to pay a set cost each time one of its patrons checks the item out. The glitch is that if any one of the 38 libraries in the County activates this option for a title, it will show up as available for all libraries, even though it is actually available for the patrons of the library that activated CPC. In the case of these “available” books, some library in the County has activated cost per circ for them. At least, that is what Overdrive told us. They also told me they are working to fix the problem. In the interim, we have asked our umbrella organization, Westchester Library System, to put an explanation on the Overdrive page.
Usually publishers don’t allow the Cost Per Circulation option for newer, more popular titles. In fact, most publishers never allowed it at all. Since the Covid 19 crisis struck, however, some publishers have changed their policies.
So why hasn’t Larchmont Public Library activated this option for these popular books? In the case of Where the Crawdads Sing or Little Fires Everywhere, for example, the publisher charges $5.50 each time one of those titles is checked out via CPC. Combined, 29 Larchmont patrons have placed holds on Crawdads and Little Fires. That means if we were to activate CPC for them, it would instantly cost us $159.50. That doesn’t mean we haven’t bought the books, however. We have four copies of Crawdads for the 12 Larchmont holds and 5 copies of Little Fires for 17 holds. These were purchased differently, where we have a single price for a two year license, but the copies can only be checked out one at a time. To date, our electronic copies of Crawdads and Little Fires have been checked out 503 times. If they had been on a cost per circulation basis, that would be $2,766.50 for those two titles alone. We prefer to have a broader collection.
Honestly, We don’t know how the libraries who have activated CPC for these titles can pay for it. We do use CPC for certain limited uses like Book Groups. For example, I have activated CPC for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as we are reading it for the New Futurians Book Group next week. That way we can be sure we will have enough copies for those who wish to attend (via Zoom, of course).
We were stepping up our eBook purchases before we closed our doors on March 13 and have increased them even more since then. Also, Larchmont patrons will get our copies first just like our regular, non electronic books. We check the lists of holds to see if we are meeting demand. We try to have one copy for every four to five holds just like with “real” books. For example, we bought an additional copy of Little Fires Everywhere earlier this week when there were 21 holds and we only had four copies. So if you want a book quickly, place a hold on it. You’ll still have to wait for your virtual copy, exactly like you would for a “real” copy. You just won’t have to wait as long.