Library Blog

E-books for Members

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

If you have visited our website recently, you may have noticed a new link in the online catalog search box: 3M E-books. This link serves as the gateway to our newest digital resource, the 3M Cloud Library—the Society’s Library’s platform for circulating e-books. Clicking on the 3M link will send you to an introductory page that includes a list of compatible devices and e-readers, and some basic instructions on how to log in and download the apps necessary to read e-books from the Cloud Library. You will also find additional links to more information, including this FAQ. We encourage you to dive in and give it a try. The Cloud Library is easy to use, and our collection contains a wide range of books, including several titles that have amassed lengthy holds queues for our print copies but are available immediately for check-out as e-books. There is an information pamphlet available at the Circulation Desk, and if you have any questions about using the 3M Cloud Library, just ask a staff member or e-mail

The Library’s E-book Collection

The Library has approximately 400 e-books available for borrowing via the 3M platform. The growing collection is a mixture of canonical classics; perennially-popular authors and titles, including a wide variety of literary fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction; New York Review of Books Classics; and currently popular books. There are about 100 children’s titles, as well. To suggest an e-book purchase, use our website’s Suggest a Purchase form, and indicate your preference for the electronic edition. 

If you don't find a new popular title or an old standby in the Library's e-book collection, this may be due to publisher restrictions and terms. Terms for libraries to purchase (more accurately, license) e-books are quite different than the terms for consumers, and building an e-book collection is not as straightforward as building a print collection. For loaning libraries, e-book licensing terms vary from publisher to publisher. Some enforce a 26 circulation limit per book. When this is reached, the library has to re-purchase the book. Others set a one-year restriction. Some publishers set prices at three times the hardcover list price. In short, terms may be prohibitive and after weighing various factors we may decide not to purchase an e-book even if it is a popular or important title. If you want to read more about libraries, e-books, and the publishing industry, this article presents a clear overview of the “the long, grinding conflict between libraries and the publishing industry over how e-books are procured.” 

Despite these obstacles, the Library’s e-book holdings will continue to grow and reflect the scope and shape of our print collection. But book lovers need not worry that an e-book collection will in any way diminish the Library’s commitment to developing and maintaining its print collection. E-books are simply here to enhance member access to reading material. 

Browsing and Searching

The best way to browse and search the collection is directly via our 3M library site or by using the 3M app once you have it downloaded. Books are arranged on virtual shelves to facilitate easy browsing. Be sure to click the Show All button on each shelf to see the full list of titles. You may also search our holdings by author or title on the 3M page or app. 

Search the Society Library’s online catalog, and 3M e-books will appear in search results alongside print and audio books. E-book entries in our online catalog are distinct in three ways: an e-book icon appears on the left, [electronic resource] appears next to the title, and the following message will display: Availability: 1 copy available at Online Resource. This message, however, can be deceiving. When you go to the 3M Cloud Library, you may find that our copy of the e-book is already checked out. In other words, the e-book is available at the New York Society Library, just perhaps not now. A link in each e-book record (View book on 3M Cloud Library) will take you directly to the book in the Cloud Library where you can check it out or place a hold if you are logged in. 

Circulation Rules and Guidelines

  1. 14 day loan period.
  2. No fines: an e-book you have borrowed will disappear from your account and all of your devices/readers exactly two weeks (to the minute) after check out. 
  3.  No renewals, but if there are no holds you may check the e-book out again. Your notes and bookmarks, if any, will reappear when you check it out again. 
  4. Five books per membership may be checked out at one time. 
  5. Five books per membership may be on hold at one time. 
  6. All 3M e-books are licensed for single simultaneous usage, meaning they can only be checked out to one user at a time. Just like a print book: one copy, one reader. 
  7. None of the above will affect the number of print books your membership has checked out or on hold. 

“The Ideal Library…”

In a 1927 Library notice highlighting its book delivery service, the Society Library claimed to be “the ideal library, because you do not have to go to its building.” Although we consider our open stacks of over 200,000 circulating volumes, exciting events, helpful staff, and lovely reading and writing rooms the primary benefits of a Society Library membership, access to over 20 electronic resources and a collection of circulating e-books makes the Library’s eight-decades old boast more true now than ever.


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