Elkhart library sees jump in circulation of digital materials

Books, audio books and magazines are all available for digital "check out," and there are no overdue fees.

Posted on March 28, 2014 at 1:04 p.m.

The public library has always been the spot for folks who don't want to pay to read a good book.

Now many libraries, like the one in Elkhart, have expanded their collections to include digital books.

Elkhart Public Library made it possible for people to "check out" digital books and audio books in 2011 when it started offering a service called Overdrive.

Not everyone knows about the service, but once people find out "they are pretty enthusiastic about it," said libararian James Facer.

The library has seen a 70 percent jump in circulation of digital materials since February 2013, according its circulation records through the digital services. In late 2013, staff started doing one-on-one instructional sessions with patrons explaining how to use tablets and e-readers.

Most of the people who come to these sessions are older adults, Facer said. He thinks that the how-to's are helping more library patrons discover digital reading. 

Now, the library has a new service called Zinio that patrons can use to read magazines on their tablets.

All of these options are free, Facer said, and in some cases the digital service is the only way patrons can read popular magazines that aren't being printed anymore, like Newsweek, PC Magazine and PC World. 

And there's no danger of forgetting to return the materials and being dinged with a late fee. Digital books, Facer said, simply return themselves when they are due.

Though some public libraries have tablets they rent to patrons, Facer said the Elkhart library isn't considering that. But for people who already own e-reading devices, the library has a few options for free reading and listening.

No more instructional sessions are planned for now, but library staff can help answer questions about e-reading anytime, Facer said. 

The Elkhart Public Library is at 300 S. Second St. It's open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. 

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks at @LydiaSheaks


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