A patron walked into my office last week to gift the library two bright and shiny new Nooks to add to the collection of e-readers. He said (and I paraphrase) that education and books were always incredibly important to him, and he wanted to give something to the library that would contribute to our patrons. He was very interested in e-books. What a lovely gift! We are so very grateful.
In this fiscal year alone, we have averaged around 16,000 e-book checkouts, usage up significantly from two years ago. Our latest statistics comprehensively showed an overall 39 percent increase in usage of all of our materials from two years ago. What does this mean?Patrons are using the library more, reading a good deal more and using e-books now more than ever. E-books are not replacing print circulation but seem to be enhancing it. E-books are just an additional way for an avid reader to digest content.
Portable devices are wonderful for readers with vision issues as the typeface can be enlarged and are also beneficial for hands that struggle with mobility or carpal tunnel syndrome. Portability is also a key benefit for using devices, as one can carry around numerous books at once and have discretion about what other’s see. Privacy is fantastic; whether you choose a steamy romance or an informative non-fiction history book, your choice remains yours alone. Though readers love to chat about books, sometimes a quiet chapter or two on a train ride or lunch hour is a respite from the noise of the world.
Our library currently subscribes to apps that allow for easy checkout to devices: "Gale Virtual Reference," "Overdrive" and "Axis 360." Information about these can be obtained through our webpage under the "E-Books & More" tab. New to our e-book app collection is a travel book library. Going on a trip this summer? Log in with your library card to see whether your destination is included. Going to Amsterdam? Got it. Canada? A travel book can help you find the best tortiere (meat pie) to bring back to a hard-working librarian. Boston, Cuba and the Netherlands are all represented. Whether you journey in the states or step outside to a destination, a travel book can help you plan or serve as a reference when you are there.
Fundamentally, I do not think e-books will ever replace print books, but they are just another way to share more books. And though many books are now available free and online due to a variety of literary projects, new content – as well as novels, bestsellers and reference content – are most readily shared through library collections. Please stop by our reference desk to learn more about e-books or receive help on how to download and use a handy app. And thank you again to our patrons that love to support us – we can’t wait to add our new Nooks to our collection.
Shannon Halikias is the director of the Sugar Grove Public Library, a professor at College of DuPage, leads a local writing group and is an active outdoors lover with two rowdy boys. You can reach her at email@example.com. Feedback on this column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.