The e-book revolution is underway at the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library.
“We’re definitely seeing a shift from physical books to e-books and e-readers,” said Lisa Youngblood, library director.
An e-reader is an electronic device, such as a Nook or Kindle, that allows a person read an e-book or digital book.
“People started bringing in their devices asking for help in downloading apps so they could read online,” Youngblood said. “We’re here to assist people to get books for free.”
In 2013, the library served more than 70,000 visitors who checked out about 152,000 items, such as books, DVDs and audio books. It spent $46,000 on physical books, $1,000 for online audio books and $17,000 for physical audio books, such as CDs.
The library currently pays an annual fee of $3,000 to be part of the Central Texas Digital Consortium. It allows users access to countless electronic titles. Many libraries use technology supplied by the company OverDrive to handle their e-book operations. Library card holders can check out digital media anytime and anywhere. With a valid library card, patrons can download e-books to their devices. Titles will expire at the end of the two-week lending period, so there are no late fees.
Patrons can schedule an appointment with library staff for an e-book tutorial. Depending on the individual’s e-reader device and knowledge, the one-on-one instructional session can last anywhere from five to 20 minutes.
Staying current with e-readers is an ongoing challenge for staff since they must upgrade their technology know-how every time a newer version of a device is available.
Kathe Kitchens, a library clerk, specializes in uploading the OverDrive app to the iPhone. Still, she understands why people may prefer physical books instead of electronic ones.
“Many people still have an emotional attachment to physical books,” Kitchens said. “There is a joy in holding and reading an actual book that you can’t get from an e-reader.”
Sharon Reid, Harker Heights High School senior, volunteers at the library and thinks e-readers are second nature to most young adults.
“Students like me grew up with these devices, so we’re comfortable using them all the time,” Reid said.
The popularity of electronic reading devices increases digital literacy, which means more people are reading.
“It’s an essential tool now,” said Madeleine Fontaine, 14, an Ellison High School freshman who enjoys reading romantic stories. She was at the library downloading an app to her iPhone since her Kindle was broken. “I want it to be up and ready so I can get entertainment and do homework.”
Youngblood thinks e-books are bringing more people to the library.
“E-books and libraries can co-exist,” she said. “A library is not just a building with physical books, but it is a place to learn how to learn.”
For more information on the e-book services, call the library at 254-953-5491.