The Texas Tech Library is attempting to expand and share its collection of electronic books with universities across the nation.

The Library collaborated with the Springer Academic Publishing Company and the Greater Western Library Alliance to develop software that will facilitate e-book sharing among universities, according to a Tech news release.

The software, Occam’s Reader ILL (interlibrary loan) will allow universities to share collections of e-books published by Springer.

Ryan Litsey, an assistant librarian at the document delivery office, said e-book sharing is difficult among libraries because of the roadblocks in the content’s formatting.

“One of the challenges with electronic books is that they are behind a secure database so it’s very difficult for us to share an electronic book with another university, other students or other researchers,” he said.

Kenny Ketner, a Tech software development manager, said the creation of Occam’s Reader was inspired by the Occam’s razor principle.

“The idea of Occam’s razor is that the simplest explanation is usually the best,” Ketner said. “What we tried to do was to find the simplest way to share an electronic book, and that is through images.”

Occam’s Reader converts the format of an e-book into an image and uploads it through a secure web browser, according to a news release.

The Occam’s Reader will reduce costs for libraries and protect the content that is provided by the publisher.

“We believe that Occam’s Reader is also fair to publishers and it’s not going to hurt their sales or break their business model or contribute to piracy of books,” Ketner said.

The Tech library is attempting to provide students with more resources but also respect the content provided by publishers, Litsey said.

“We are trying to walk a line of being able to give students the resources they need to able to do the research that one would expect students to do at a major university like Texas Tech,” he said, “but at the same time be able to honor the content the publishers have put time into preparing.”

The Occam’s Reader will provide the basic content of an e-book and will not provide additional features that are common in other e-books.

“When it’s transmitted to Occam’s Reader it’s just the basic image,” Litsey said.

The stripped down version of the e-book will not allow for printing, copying and pasting or downloading, Ketner said.

“It’s literally to read the book like you are reading a photo copy of the book,” he said. “We think that will make publishers happy because they will continue to offer richer platforms for reading their e-books that you have to purchase. At least with Occam’s Reader you can access the material to do your research even though it’s just bare bones.”

To access the e-books students will only need Internet access.  

“They don’t need a specific Kindle or an iPad,” Litsey said. “As long as they have something with Internet access they will be able to read the books.”

The software’s pilot will be launched on March 1, he said. Students can access a demo of Occam’s reader at occamsreader.org.

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