Q: Why is a Johnson County Library eCard only available to Johnson County residents?
In order to be good stewards of Johnson County taxpayer dollars and best serve all of those residents, Johnson County Library and Olathe Public Library offer traditional cards (full access) and eCards (digital access only) to those who live in Johnson County and asks non-residents to visit in person to get a traditional card. This arrangement keeps our pricing for digital resources more affordable so we can offer a better collection to our community.
Access funded by residents JCL's commitment to accessible information is a driving force in setting the cost for a library card: free for everyone. JCL has had a long-standing policy that if you come into any of our locations, regardless of where you reside (be it Johnson County, greater Kansas City, or beyond), you'll get a card with immediate access to physical and digital materials. We also closely partner with Olathe Public Library (a separate public library district within Johnson County, tax-funded by residents in the city of Olathe, KS) to jointly offer services to all Johnson County residents.
JCL recognizes that Johnson County residents are active in both their local communities and their greater Kansas City metropolitan community, where day-to-day life regularly happens across many municipalities and state lines. In turn, may non-residents are also part of the Johnson County community through work, school, recreation, and more. With that in mind, the reciprocity agreements made among the KC metro area libraries mirror that policy: If you reside in any of the participating library districts and you're visiting another one of those library districts, come in and set up your card for free.
Digital demand in Johnson County A 2015 Return on Investment study conducted by the University of Kansas evaluated library service in Johnson County and found: "Expanding the Library’s digital offerings, making digital materials more conveniently accessible, and helping residents in different parts of the County know more about these services seem to be especially important given the demographic profile of Johnson County residents, their expectations of modern library services, and the geographical spread of the County."
In addition, by that point many Johnson County school districts had initiated digital learning initiatives that allowed each student to have a school-provided laptop or tablet, a great avenue for connecting local students to public library resources. In early 2016, JCL and OPL each launched eCard programs to further support and serve more Johnson County residents in accessing our digital collections.
Digital pricing Vendors who license online products (research databases, online learning, many eLibrary services) to libraries generally base pricing on the number of people in our service area, and the vendors define that service area by taking into account eligibility requirements (residency, cost, expiration date, etc.) for a library card. The more people allowed unrestricted access, the larger the service area. So to manage finite financial resources, libraries have to balance amount of access with quality of the collection.
To be good stewards of Johnson County residents' tax dollars, JCL first focuses on serving those residents. Since non-residents have to visit a JCL location to gain access (aka a library card) to our digital resources, just as they do for physical materials, our vendors continue to base the cost on the number of residents in Johnson County. This keeps pricing more affordable so we can offer a broader and deeper digital collection.
Bottom line JCL strives to provide the best physical and digital collections with the resources available to us, and anyone who is in our community can access those collections for free! Johnson County residents gain access through a traditional card or eCard, and anyone who resides outside of Johnson County can swing by in person when they're in the area to set up a traditional card and then use our collections in person or online.