The total cost will vary depending on how local libraries decide to implement the tablet library guidelines, but a general cost estimate can be determined by considering the following factors. There may be a way to impliment the new tablet library model without acruing
There may be a way to implement the new tablet library model without accruing additional cost; this can be accomplished by shifting the budget away from physical books and focusing on an all-digital collection, going from paper to pixels.
This cost will depend on whether the library system as a whole adapts the tablet library guidelines.If all the libraries adapt the tablet library model a centralized book warehouse will have to be leased, built or an existing library converted to a warehouse.
Another option could be for one or more libraries within the district to become a “book only location” (with much fewer tablets and space for collaboration and computing) this would allow the majority of libraries in the area to transfer their physical books to that location instead of a warehouse.
Books will be transferred upon patron request to any branch within a given geographical area; this will accrue additional costs associated with transporting the books between libraries. This is already being done to a certain extent with the inter-library loan system and additional costs shouldn’t be much higher than the current system.
Google scanned 7 million books for an estimated cost of $35-70 million dollars, that’s about $5-10 dollars per book. But remember once the book is scanned it no longer needs to be transported and only one physical copy is needed, so you can reduce the amount of physical duplicate copies.
If you take the cost per book scanned and multiply it by how many book are in each library you can get a good idea. Some estimates say there are approximately 7,000-15,000 in an average public library. So it would cost anywhere from 35,000 to 150,000 per library to digitize all the books.
Emerging technology in book scanning robots can lead to a dramatic reduction in cost. Video of the BFS-Auto book scanner.
The important thing to remember is once a book is digitized it no longer is susceptible to wear and tear and can never be lost or stolen, it is anticipated the cost savings of not having to replace damaged and missing books may make up for the cost of scanning the books.
Because e-readers primary function is focused on reading its features are drastically different from most multimedia tablets, and for this reason an e-readers cost much less than a tablet. Most e-readers cost between $60-$180, and this cost difference is mostly due to the e-reader having or not having a backlit display. As of late 2013 the most popular selling e-reader is the Amazon kindle at a cost of $69.
As of late 2013 the price of a tablet ranges from $99 - $ 1299, with smaller tablets 7-9” screens, selling on average for $200-$400, and larger tablets around 10” screens, selling on average for $350- $600.
Because the price and number of available tablets on the market fluctuate every 3-6 months here is a link to a comprehensive comparison of tablets so you can compare currently available models with their features and prices.
Depending on the needs of individual libraries the cost of new renovation could just include removing and relocating the books and purchasing new furniture for the space that has been created after removing the books.
Each library needs to re-consider the overall library layout and take into consideration the way patrons may use a new tablet library, this may include installing a new café or food area, or setting up more collaboration space for small groups and meetings, you may also consider installing multimedia areas with sound proof rooms for sound recording and digital media production. Each library has individual needs that they can fulfill for their local community; it is the job of each local library to determine these needs and fulfill them as it corresponds with there budget and goals.
Security and Loss Prevention
Tablet libraries can use existing RFID security they use currently for books. RFID tags can be attached to the tablets and in addition inexpensive location tracking software can be used to keep devices from leaving the library without authorization.
The cost of securing the tablets also needs to include special security and protection cases, which on average cost $50-$100 per tablet case. The idea behind security cases is the ability to lock the case onto the device so the user can’t remove the tablet from it, this serves three purposes, to keep the tablet from becoming damaged if dropped, to allow the use of embedded RFID anti-theft sensor inside the case and it allows the case to be tethered via security cable.
According to a Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study (PLFTAS) completed in 2012, 91% of public libraries already have free wifi access but this access could be strained when the new tablet library goes all digital, for this reason it would be necessary for most libraries to upgrade their wifi infrastructure to accommodate the increased traffic load.
General operating costs
There are several factors that can positively or negatively affect total operating cost of a new Tablet Library. Listed below are potential cost saving and cost increases.
- No lost, stolen or damaged books
- Staff no longer needs to move around physical books, sorting and putting them on shelves, or looking around for misplaces books.
- No need for book preservation
- Reduced need for interlibrary loan delivery system because all books are digital and can be delivered digitally.
- Because digital books and resources are available 24-7 the library will not be pressured to open for longer hours.
- New libraries can start a with an all-digital collection instead of having to buy thousands of traditional books, which decreases the barrier to entry, which is especially important for smaller rural communities that find it difficult to establish a public library.
- New tablet libraries can be smaller because they don’t need space for books, these new smaller libraries will potentially have smaller utility bills and overall overhead costs.
- Moving books to a warehouse and storing them by size rather than Dewey decimal system uses 7 times less space.
- Upgrade of wifi network and broadband connection to accommodate increased bandwidth.
- Cost of tablets, e-readers and related hardware such as cases and security software.
- Re-training staff for the new all-digital Tablet Library.
- Removing the physical books and shelving and relocating them to a centralized warehouse or library.
- Constructing a purpose built robotic book warehouse to store all the books removed from local libraries.
- Book scanners needed to scan and digitize the library’s collection.
- Cost of purchasing e-books (digital access to books)