“Keeping up with new technology is always challenging,” says Library Manager Nicole Lane, explaining a new initiative in which the library recently bought two eReaders—a Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet—and created a space behind the circulation desk for training and exploring.
“Since more and more people are using eReaders we knew, as a library, we had to expand our offerings and services in order to remain relevant in this changing environment,” Nicole said. “We are calling it our petting zoo.” Patrons can use the library’s devices to learn how to download and read eBooks as well as how to use the library’s collection of eBooks. A representative from the library system trained the Gardiner library staff so they can help patrons who are just getting started using eReaders or who have questions, and this pre-knowledge then allows people to purchase an eReader for themselves with more confidence.
“We want to start slow to see what patrons want,” Nicole continued. But eventually she hopes to be able to lend out eReaders pre-loaded with genres of books, for example, mysteries, best sellers, etc.
Despite being electronic, eBooks are not free. The library must buy eBooks, which generally cost $7 to around $18 each. And, although eBooks are electronic, patrons still need to wait for available copies when they request titles through the library system.
The good news is that the library’s budget has a new line specifically for eBooks, so they won’t get usurped by paper and print acquisitions. As Nicole went on, “Most importantly the Gardiner Library has also opened an Overdrive Advantage account which allows the library to purchase eBooks that only Gardiner Library patrons can check out. This will reduce wait time for bestsellers considerably. We can run reports showing what titles our patrons are requesting. That will drive the purchases I make for our Overdrive Advantage account.”
To access the library system’s collection of eBooks on your own computer or other device, go to the library’s website and click on “eBook/audio book downloads” on the homepage. The best thing to do is go to the help section, find the device you will be using and then follow the directions on how to use your device with Overdrive.
To facilitate access to e-Books and other electronic materials, the library has increased the number of desk top computers available for patron use from three to four and the number of laptops from four to six. In addition, an iPad for the children’s area has been added which is preloaded with child level educational apps they can explore.
To support an ongoing process, Nicole explained, “I participated in a webinar on how to use an impact survey developed to understand community use of library technology and how we can improve those services. This will then help shape our choices about how to incorporate technology into our future library services and offerings.”