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Wake County libraries embrace eBooks

Posted August 5, 2010

— Readers don't have to leave their homes now to check out a book from Wake County Public Libraries.

Wake County libraries has opened one of the region's first program to let users check out eBooks.

The library has about 150 digital titles and offers five copies of each. Staff add new titles from The New York Times' Best Sellers list each week.

Library staff shifted funding from the existing budget for print books amid growing demand for an eBook program, said Danielle Clark, with Wake County libraries.

"I think a lot of people got eReaders for Christmas," Clark said.

People with a valid Wake County library card can go the library web site, browse the virtual collection, and download an eBook to their home computer.

Books can be read either on the home computer or transferred to compatible eReaders, including the Sony Reader or Barnes & Noble's Nook. Amazon's Kindle is not compatible because it uses properietary software. Check out an eBook from the library Check out an eBook from the library

Developers are working on apps for iPads, Androids and BlackBerry smart phones.

Books can be checked out for up to three weeks and are automatically returned at the end of the check-out period – meaning no late fees for patrons or lost books the library has to replace.

"That would be wonderful," said Tiffany Wheeler, who had brought her two sons to the library. "We have trouble returning books."

"We don't have to worry about people dropping books in the bathtub or losing them on an airplane," Clark said.

Clark said she's happy to be part of a wave of libraries who aren't clinging to their hardcovers but are embracing electronic forms of reading.

"This is a great way for people to read however they want," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • drsickles Aug 11, 2010

    Way to go Wake County Public Libraries! My son and I check out a dozen or so books every other week at the libary, and we use the online system all the time to request books from other locations. We've got the free downloadable versions of e-readers on our computers, and an iPad, and will be thrilled to check out eBooks. One thing that disappoints me a bit is the method the libraries are using to select titles: the NYT Bestsellers. Of course they're popular, but there are thousands of new and lesser known authors out there from small presses who would flourish in this check-out model. I read faster than my favorite authors, and am constantly in search of new minds. Hope they broaden their wings a bit for the selection process.

  • Alexia.1 Aug 6, 2010

    junkmail0987: "Part of fiscal responsibility to the public they serve is to maintain an up-to-date collection, and decades-old scientific journals don’t qualify."

    I disagree. While I can agree that we don't need 100 copies, any book is valuable, and especially scientific books. I'm not referring to the 8th grade science book. I offered to donate a collection of books to the Wake County and was told that they'd likely all be sold, not made available to the public. Ditto for magazines. I'd love to see those on microfilm, if nothing else. Some have great lasting value. I have tried getting certain older, yet valuable books and the library cannot get them. Perhaps the universities have them, but that's not convenient for everyone.

    As I see it, the libraries are useful primarily for making the current best-sellers available. The library is of no academic value.

  • Baybee Doll Aug 5, 2010

    I like iBooks myself ;)

  • barik Aug 5, 2010

    I have to say that this is a fantastic system. I have had the opportunity to use it on the day Overdrive went live at Wake. The eBook system has a lot of benefits: saves on gas and travel, font size can be adjusted to user preference (great for vision impaired), uses standard ePub format which works on many eBook readers, requires less storage space for libraries, books don't ever wear or need replacement, and my favorite, books are automatically "returned" to the library.

    Great job!

  • IMHO Aug 5, 2010

    rick_slick: Way to copy "parts" of the story. That story is specifically about using e-readers in a university classroom. It has nothing NOTHING to do with a library! SMH!!

  • Isabella Aug 5, 2010

    Why should those who can afford an e-reader not have the same opportunity to check out library books via print or ebook? I can afford an e-reader but wouldn't purchase one if I could not borrow from the library. It is partially the tax dollars of those who can afford an e-reader who are supporting the library. Why should those people be shunned because some who don't even pay tax (due to their income levels) may not be able to carry around the book on an ereader (since they can read it on an ereader ... or heck, on the iPhone that some lower income families seem to be still be able to afford).
    If you want to argue about funding for the library, find out how the library can actually receive the late fees instead of the fees going into the general fund. Now that is a seriously messed up way to do things.
    Embrace everything the library offers. You just might learn something.

  • mpheels Aug 5, 2010

    If Wake County were a university and they were putting all of their money into ebooks to the exclusion of all other media, then they would have a problem. But, public libraries and universities are not equal. Under ADA, universities have to make sure the required materials for classes are available to students with impaired vision. That does not mean universities cannot use ereaders, just that they have to have alternate media (braille, large print) for students who need it. In fact, for some people with vision impairments, ereaders are better b/c they can adjust contrast and font size. Libraries, on the other hand, offer a wide variety of media to the public at large. Members of the public are not required to use media from public libraries, and libraries are not required to provide every document in every form.

  • rick_slick Aug 5, 2010

    That's funny because the Obama Justice Dept Civil Rights AG Thomas E. Perez says that ebooks (Kindle) is a ADA violation. So any shifting of funds is actionable by the US govt. I don't think I can include the link but it was from a hearing: 'WASHINGTON, July 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is the statement of Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez at a hearing on the Americans With Disabilities Act ... These universities agreed not to purchase, recommend, or promote use of this or other electronic book readers unless the devices are fully accessible for students who are blind or have low vision or the universities provide a reasonable modification that ensures that blind individuals may access and acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use."

    Enjoy getting sued Wake County.

  • Quagmire Aug 5, 2010

    more tax payer money is what I see....

    You must not read.

  • lrfarms27572 Aug 5, 2010

    more tax payer money is what I see....