Archive for Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lawrence Public Library receives grant to let patrons try out e-readers

June 25, 2011


Susan Brown said it’s one of the most frequently asked questions at the Lawrence Public Library: “Which e-reader should I get?”

Thanks to a grant from the Praxair Foundation, the local library is getting ready to help patrons answer that question. The grant, which helps libraries upgrade their technology, allows for the purchase of a variety of e-readers and other high-tech toys.

Brown, the library’s marketing director, said the technology toolboxes, as they’ll be called, will contain iPads, Nooks, Kindles and Sony Readers as well as MP3 players, digital cameras and GPS devices.

“It gets the public more prepared and comfortable with the technology,” said Kelly Fann, IT coordinator for the library.

Visitors to the library will be able to handle the devices and get a feel for what they’re like, though they won’t be able to check them out. Several of the devices have already been ordered and delivered, but it will be mid-July before they’re made available to the public. Brown referred to the program as something akin to “try it before you buy it.”

Lawrence resident Nate Oborny said he reads constantly and though he doesn’t personally own an e-reader, he has read his share of e-books by other means. Oborny said he wasn’t surprised the Lawrence library, like many across the country, was moving in a digital direction.

“I think eventually it will be the norm,” he said.

In order to be the norm, libraries will have to find a way to incorporate the technology into their current daily systems. Issues with digital transitions in libraries center on hardware and software.

E-readers can be expensive, which doesn’t make them accessible to everyone frequenting the library. There’s also a common concern that if checked out, something the Lawrence library will not do immediately, the devices may not be returned.

Getting books onto e-readers can also cause problems for libraries. Brown said she wasn’t sure whether the Lawrence library would purchase e-books for patrons to download or if e-readers would eventually come with pre-loaded content.

The reception of e-books and e-readers has been mixed. Brown said many people enjoy the devices and just as many don’t.

“Our job is to serve both sides,” she said.

The technology toolboxes are slated for a mid-summer arrival at the library and will be available for people to sit with and read with. Apart from training and testing purposes, the future use for the e-readers has yet to be determined. The possibilities, however, are promising.

“I think all it’s doing is offering another format for reading for patrons who are more technologically advanced,” said Lynn Koenig, adult services coordinator. “The print book will never go away.”

Koenig also said e-readers could help make the library accessible any time of the day through online access to e-books. The 24-hour service would help keep the community facility useful and relevant in a changing society.

“We’re very much an on-the-go generation,” Fann said. “There’s not a whole lot of time to curl up on the couch to read. The e-reader is a space saver.”

Fann said the biggest question facing libraries with e-readers was how to make the technology work, something she said the library was hoping to have a definitive answer for shortly.

And while library staff admit that there will be an adjustment period and that not everyone will like the new technology, they agree the conversation is one they’re glad to see taking place.

“The broader sense of it is that there are all these people who are hot and bothered about the issue,” Brown said of e-readers in libraries. “But they’re hot and bothered about reading. It’s great.”


NotASquishHead 6 years, 3 months ago

For the $18,000,000 the taxpayers are spending on a new library, the city could have purchased every citizen an e-reader. Much better idea than building a larger library... In case the decision makers haven't noticed, paper books are going away.

hs_reader 6 years, 3 months ago

People process information differently. Some people may prefer ebooks but others will always want physical books. That will be true until paper becomes so scarce that it is too expensive to print books reasonably.

Books don't break if you drop them, and have a lower replacement cost if you drop them in water. Books don't need to be charged. And until every single person on the planet has an e-reader libraries with physical books will exist, because libraries exist to provide knowledge to everyone.

booyalab 6 years, 3 months ago

No kidding, I wonder if they're hiring...

50YearResident 6 years, 3 months ago

The handwriting is on the wall. Now even the Library is getting e-books. Technology is making the Library obsolete. This new building not yet built is already obsolete.

Gedanken 6 years, 3 months ago

I am SHOCKED that the library was able to get a grant WITHOUT the upgrades. I know this was a concern and one of the primary motivating factors for the expansion. Who would have thought?

irvan moore 6 years, 3 months ago

if one of the most common questions is about e readers why in the heck are we spending all this money on a new library?

pizzapete 6 years, 3 months ago

There is no way I would read a book with one of those. I do a lot of reading and my eyes get tired if I'm looking at a lighted screen more than a few hours. Books aren't going away folks, a lot of us older folk aren't going to fix something that ain't broke.

sulliedotcom 6 years, 3 months ago

Most don't have backlights. Research before you judge.

Alceste 6 years, 3 months ago

So, does this information imply that the homeless community, who use the library more than any other group in the City, access all these new "e-readers", everyone else is going to have to wait? Will the homeless shelter be contributing financially to their clienteles usage of the devices?

50YearResident 6 years, 3 months ago

My guess is the homeless only look at books or magazines that are all pictures.

damnitimpissed 6 years, 3 months ago

A lot of the books I need lately are part of non-circulating collections from other libraries. E-readers will be able to do what an interlibrary loan can't (and a lot more).

This is exactly the kind of effort that will keep libraries beneficial to communities. Thank you to whoever secured the grant, and keep it up.

Liberty275 6 years, 3 months ago

This is the sort of novel service library planners should have made more visible. As much as I see the need to curb spending, a low-dollar project that spurs buying far beyond the investment is fine with me.

Of course, our friends on the socialist left must question how their vote for a "public" library turns into a vote for Best Buy v.1.

hs_reader 6 years, 3 months ago

No, I don't believe that the fact that the library is getting e-readers is the issue. I think the issue is people arguing that because of e-readers, actual books are obsolete. And people saying that the library doesn't need more room, and somehow using the try-out e-readers as an argument for it.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 3 months ago

IMHO, one of the values of a library is that it can preserve and circulate books that are out of print. Not everything worth reading has been printed in the last 20 years. Everything worth reading is not going to be available on e-books. That's my $0.02.

gr 6 years, 3 months ago

So, what needs to be done to stop the new library? Petition?

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