We don’t purchase e-books at our library, but other libraries in our consortium do. We also have access to NetLibrary through NCLive. All of our services are available on-campus, but for our curriculum students, faculty, and staff to access an e-book through NetLibrary off-campus, they have to use a password.
I have helped other catalogers in our system code their bibliographic records so their students can access the e-books they purchase. Catalogers embed a link in the bibliographic record so when a patron is searching our online database, they will receive a link to an e-book. The patron clicks on the link, but they must enter a password before they can view the book.
The book isn’t checked out in the same sense as you would check out a bound volume. Multiple users can view an e-book simultaneously. I have tried to use e-books for my own research, I’ve found the technology cumbersome and difficult to use.
For example, if I want to quote a passage from an e-book for a paper, it’s not a simple copy/paste function. So I either have to print the page I want to quote (which to me, defeats the purpose) or switch back and forth between screens, which is a nightmare. The other problem is that I’ve found research in e-books to be more time consuming, due to the load-time between pages. I can scan the page faster than it can load.
That’s been my experiences with e-books. If someone else, especially a library employee who works with e-books have had different experiences, I’d love to hear about how your library handles e-books.