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According to a survey conducted by the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) in the summer of 2011, 39 percent of public libraries had not begun to offer downloadable media service (ebooks, audiobooks, movies) to their communities. COSLA reported that small, rural libraries with limited budgets were most likely not to have access to downloadable media.

COSLA believes that ebooks will be the preferred format for reading materials in the future. As a result, it has set a goal for all U.S. public libraries to offer ebooks and downloadable media by 2015. As a step in that direction, LJ will be publishing a series of articles that closely examine the various ebook platforms available. This first feature provides an environmental scan.