Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Your Library in the Age of e-Books

While there is nothing like a printed book -- especially a kids' picture book -- for a dedicated reader to enjoy, electronic devices can make reading more convenient and accessible for readers of all ages. Whether on a commuter train, on vacation, or at summer camp, reading a hefty tome or carrying a large stack of books can pose logistical problems. These are perfect times to take advantage of an e-reader, such as a Kindle or Nook, or to use a tablet, or even a phone, for reading.

Ipoh Kia

But even avid users of e-reading devices often have a major objection to purchasing books; although they can re-read their purchases or even share them via a linked device, they don't have the ability to share them more generally. If you like an e-book, the methods of sharing it with a friend are very limited; you can't just hand it over and say, "Hey, you have to read this. You'll love it!" That means that even though you pay less for an e-book (sometimes much less) than you would for its printed counterpart, it sometimes seems like you are getting less value.

One solution for the thrifty voracious reader is to use the digital download services of your local public library. All you need is a library card and a computer or tablet to view the digital card catalog. Some libraries, like the New York Public Library, have extensive digital collections of all sorts of media -- including movies, over 700,000 photographs and images, as well as historic archives and online exhibitions and, of course, books. Others, with more modest budgets, band together to provide e-books and other materials to their patrons. In Nassau County, on Long Island, for example, the Nassau Library System offers the Nassau Digital Doorway, which allows patrons to download up to five e-books or audio books at a time, for up to two weeks. Popular books can be reserved, and patrons will be alerted by email when they are ready to download.

So, if you put away your library card the day your iPad was delivered, it may pay to find it again to take advantage of this easy and convenient way to make sure you always have something good to read.

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