|To remain relevant in a technological world, libraries learn to adapt|
|Written by Dennis HInes/Stateline News|
|Monday, 22 August 2011 14:53|
Nhung Nguyen, left, and Thanh Vo, both of Rockton, use a computer at the Talcott Free Library in Rockton. As patrons use more technology, libraries have learned to adapt.
(Read this story in the e-edition HERE.)
BELOIT -- iPads, Nooks and Kindles are changing how libraries do business.
There was a time that computerized card catalogues ushered in a revolution in technology.
Today, all manner of portable electronic devices are changing the way people interact with information, and libraries are changing the way they provide their services.
The Beloit and Clinton public libraries, as well as the Talcott Free Library in Rockton and the North Suburban Library District in Roscoe and Loves Park, subscribe to a company called OverDrive, which allows patrons to download eBooks onto their mobile device through a website. The software allows the book to remain on the reader for a limited time.
“We keep up to date on what’s happening. (Patrons) can get their books, either eBooks or regular books,” said Bonnie Estrada, director of the Talcott Free Library, “There’s multiple devices that allow (patrons) to go home and check out books.”
Sandy Aden, director of the North Suburban Library District, said more eBooks have been made available at the Roscoe and Loves Park libraries during the past few months to include more popular titles.
“We previously had a limited number of eBooks. We did not have the popular books available,” Aden said. “Now that we have switched our account, we have some of the more popular books available.”
Mary Bieber, director of the Clinton Public Library, said the library plans to partner with the Clinton School District to help make eBooks available to students.
“We plan on working with schools where children will be given a password, and they can read books online,” Bieber said.
The Beloit and Clinton libraries also offer Playaway devices, which include pre-loaded audio books. Jeni Schomber, director of youth services for the Beloit Public Library, said the devices are similar to an MP3 player.
“It’s something that somebody can put in their shirt pocket when they’re out taking their walk,” Schomber said. “(The audio books) are prerecorded, pre-loaded, and you just push play.”
The Beloit Public Library currently has a Nook that staff can use to show patrons how to use the device. Schomber said the library may purchase a Nook in the future that patrons may check out.
“So, if a customer comes in and says, ‘You know, I just got this, I don’t know how to use it. I don’t know how to download anything,’ because the staff has had a chance to play with the one we have here, we can kind of walk them through how to download,” Schomber said.
Bieber said, in the future, she plans to purchase a Kindle for the Clinton library. The South Beloit Public Library plans to have a Nook available for patrons to check out in the near future.
Local libraries also offer computer stations, which allow patrons to access the Internet, search for jobs, work on resumes and check their emails. Rockton resident Lori Oostendorp said she does not have Internet access at home, so she often uses the computers at the Talcott Free Library.
“I have written letters to congressmen and representatives. I have looked up medical information and political information before voting,” Oostendorp said. “I have connected with half a dozen friends from across the country. I have kept in touch with a lot of old friends.”
Bieber said the computers at the Clinton Public Library are constantly being used.
“A lot of people come in to use our computers,” Bieber said. “There’s a lot of people job hunting right now. We see a steady use in people wanting to use the Internet. Our computers have quite high usage. Our online computers are being used all the time.”
Aden said the North Suburban Library District currently is in the process of updating its computer software to help make it easier for patrons to access the Internet.
“People count on us to have up-to-date equipment, so they can do their research and do other correspondence,” Aden said. “We have fast Internet connection, so people can come in and do their research online.”
Despite the growing popularity of eBooks, the regular printed copies are still popular among patrons.
“Here in Clinton, people still enjoy the printed copies,” Bieber said. “Electronic books in Clinton have not been too big of a thing. People still like the printed books.”
Aden said the printed versions are still popular, because they are more affordable than the electronic versions.
“Not everyone can afford a device to download the eBooks, plus not everybody wants the eBooks,” Aden said. “People often like to have the eBooks when they are on vacation. But when they are at home, they still enjoy the hard copy.”
Schomber said she does not feel printed books will become obsolete anytime in the near future.
“Regular copies of books will never go out of style,” Schomber said. “The demand is still too great. In the future, we may purchase fewer hard copies of books and more eBooks, but I think libraries will always have books.”
|Last Updated on Monday, 22 August 2011 14:59|