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Borrowing of e-books gaining popularity in local libraries

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 10:24 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, March 1, 2014 12:06 a.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Jodi Sapita (left) instructs Beverly Smith on how to borrow e-books on a Kindle on Wednesday at the DeKalb Public Library. Smith has borrowed one of the library's Kindles to see if she wants to purchase her own in the future. The library has Kindles and Nooks that patrons can check out to read their e-books.

Although borrowing e-books from the library is gaining popularity, DeKalb County librarians aren’t concerned that physical libraries will go the way of the dodo anytime soon.

Edith Craig, DeKalb Public Library’s programming and public relations manager, said during the fiscal year that ended June 30, only 2 percent of the items circulated were electronic. Personally, she said she has an e-book reader, but also prefers printed books.

“Libraries are evolving,” Craig said, “but the majority of our readers still prefer print material.”

Genoa Public Library Director Jennifer Barton said interest in borrowing e-books is on the rise at her facility.

“There is a growing interest,” Barton said. “I’m not sure if it’s because more people are aware we have the service available or if more people are getting e-readers.”

At the library in DeKalb, a reference librarian is dedicated to managing the electronic collection and educating patrons about borrowing e-books.

Jodi Sapita is available at the library from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays to answer patrons’ questions, and spend as much time with them as they need to learn the process. Even though she is the dedicated e-book librarian, Sapita said many staff members are familiar with the process.

“It’s not difficult, there’s just a lot of steps,” Sapita said.

She has directions printed for the patron’s specific device – Kindle, Nook or a variety of tablet apps – that are available to take home as a reference.

The first step is to access the library’s website at dkpl.org, and click on the “eBooks and more” link, then the omnilibraries.org link. That link allows patrons to browse by category or author for books.

If the book is available, the patron can check it out, have it delivered and start reading. Nook users look for the epub button to download the book. Kindle users look for the Kindle button, which then takes them to the Amazon website, where they have to sign in to their Amazon account to have the book delivered to their device.

“It’s a process, but like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets,” Sapita said.

If the e-book is not available, the reader can put it on hold and will receive an email when it’s available. Sapita explained that, just like printed materials, a specific number of copies of each item are available.

“The publishers are making it as difficult as possible for libraries, because they want to make money,” Sapita said. “The library system has to purchase a license for each copy. It’s the publishers’ purposeful way to save sales.”

She said some licenses have time limits, also.

Patrons interested in buying an e-reader, but unsure which one they want, can borrow a device from the DeKalb library and try it out. Craig said a grant helped the library purchased about a dozen Kindles and Nooks for patrons.

Regular patron Beverly Smith has checked out a Kindle because she already had an Amazon account.

“You get the Kindle, a cover and the charging cord,” Smith said. “I like using it, because when you browse, you see books you didn’t even know you wanted to read.”

Sapita said e-books are good for commuters and travelers, allowing them to carry several books on one device instead of several individual books. They also are good for readers with vision problems, because the onscreen text can be enlarged.

And when the book is due, it automatically expires.

“There are never any overdue fines,” Smith said.

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