I think this is a useful service – the books are mentioned in context, and the Amazon link enables further information about the book to be obtained. And if the user wishes to buy the book, they can do so – and any income which the institution gains from this referral link will be useful, although this is no likely to be substantial.
But I have heard that some libraries would not allow such services to be deployed. Some of the reservations which libraries may have over deployment of various Web 2.0 services are described in the Web 2.0: Addressing the Barriers to Implementation in a Library Context QA Focus briefing document. This document includes the comment:
“However, information professionals may feel uneasy about appearing to be promoting the use of Amazon as a commercial service to their users. This might potentially damage relationships with on-campus bookshops, or leave the Library service open to criticism from users that the Library is encouraging students to purchase essential materials rather than ensuring sufficient copies are provided.“
Is this a legitimate concern? Are libraries which include Amazon referral links likely to causing such problems? Or is this very much horses-for-courses, with different libraries making a variety of decisions, based on various local factors.