Library expands E-book options

-A A +A
By Arin McKenna

Smartphones, eReaders, tablets, laptops and other devices have increased the options for enjoying a good book and the Los Alamos County Library is working to stay ahead of the trend by expanding its audio book and eBook services. 

All it takes is a valid library card and some free software to download best-selling and classic titles from the library’s website. The library currently has more than 1,300 titles available and is adding more all the time. 

“In my opinion, this is the wave of the future and we need to be able to provide books in a format people want to have them in,” said Electronic Resources Manager Gwen Kalavaza. “We’re certainly not going to stop purchasing print editions, but we will continue to offer both.”

Patrons simply browse the downloadable catalog, check out with a valid library card and download to PC, Mac or other mobile devices. Users will first have to install free software, OverDrive Media Console for audio books or Adobe Digital Editions for eBooks.

Titles can be enjoyed immediately or transferred to a variety of devices, including iPod, Kindle, Sony Reader and many others. Some audio books can also be burned to CD. Titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period. Although there is no option to renew, the books can be checked out again. There are no late fees.

According to Kalavaza, the program has been popular, with usage increasing 24 percent since it was launched in May. The library offered eBooks prior to that, but not the range of titles available now, which includes a much more extensive fiction collection.
Patrons can request books not available in the catalogue, but Kalavaza warns that many titles available to consumers are not available to libraries. Of the top six publishers, only Random House and Harper Collins have agreed to sell to libraries. 

“I think publishers are worried about their revenues. They would rather have 100 people purchase a book than to sell one copy to a library and have 100 people read it,” Kalavaza said. “I think we’ll get there, but we’re not there yet. That is very unfortunate, because it puts libraries in a bad spot.”

Kalavaza said that many groups, including the American Library Association, are working to change those attitudes, armed with arguments such as studies showing that many people who check a book out of the library later purchase it. In the meantime, organizations such as Project Gutenberg are committed to make works in the public domain available to the public in electronic formats.

For those who feel they need some help getting started, the library staff has been offering a series of “how to” workshops.

“We figured with the holidays a lot of people might have received eReaders for Christmas, so this would be a good time to offer these,” Kalavaza said.

Patrons simply bring their own devices to the workshops and librarians will work one-on-one with them on how to download the software, search for titles in the catalogue and set preferences for a device. Sessions also include basics about log in, checkout, placing hold requests and other details of how to set up and access personal accounts.

One-on-one help is also available throughout the year by appointment. 

Workshops are being offered at Mesa Public Library from 3-5 p.m. Saturday and from 4-6 p.m. on Monday. Another session occurs 10 a.m.-noon Jan. 10 at the White Rock branch. 

 For more information, stop by the Reference Desk at Mesa Public Library or the main desk at White Rock or call 662 8253.