The Halifax Public Libraries continues to expand its eBook program, with over 30,000 titles available free of charge.
With more than 270,000 individual downloads last year, people seem to have embraced the concept of avoiding late fees and not having to lug piles of books back to the return slot.
However, there are a few things you should know before ditching the hard copy.
Firstly, not all eReaders are currently supported at the Halifax Public Libraries. In fact, one of the trailblazers of the eReader format, Amazon’s Kindle, is currently not on the supported formats list.
However, many other popular eReaders are, including: Kobo, Sony Reader, Nook, Pandigital and Aluratek.
You can also download free eBooks onto any device which uses Apple’s iOS software (iPad/iPhone), Google Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7.
Even though the format is digital, you may still run into waiting lists, as the library is only able to lend out so many copies at one time.
Debbie Lebel, collections development manager with Halifax Public Libraries said one of the biggest challenges with operating the eBook program is the ever-changing technology.
“There’s new devices released seemingly ever day, and it can be a struggle to stay on top of things,” Lebel said. “Some people may have difficulties using the eReaders, especially if they’re new to the technology, we provide support when we can, it’s something that comes with the territory.”
The library uses a vendor called OverDrive, a U.S. based distributor that distributes eBooks all over the world.
All that you need in order to access the content is a library card and an account.
“You decide which books you want to check out and you put them in your shopping cart and accept that it’s free, then you check them out, download and then transfer them to your device,” Lebel said. “You can also download them directly to your device depending on what you’re using.”
“If you check out an eBook, you typically get to decide how long you want to keep it for. 7, 14, or 21 day loans,” she said. “You don’t have to go back to the library to return it or anything like that.”
Once the loan period has expired, the file containing the book becomes inaccessible. To remove it, you simply delete it, or it’ll delete itself.
Lebel said despite the convenience of eBooks, she doesn’t see people snubbing the physical library anytime soon.
“A lot of people who read eBooks continue to read print books as well,” she said. “Even if they do all of their reading on an eReader, they’re coming to the library for programs, various events and to spend time in their community, we’re not seeing a decrease in people coming through the doors.”
Quick Facts: Halifax Public Libraries eBook program
Started in 2008, with supplier OverDrive
Total collection size 30,000 (with continually added new titles)
Checkouts in the last year: 270,000 (doubled from the previous year)
Top circulating genres/subjects: Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Biography, Business
The most popular titles in the last year:
Fifty Shades of Grey
The Virgin Cure
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
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