Indian Prairie Library patrons turn to e-books
Mary Ellen Koenig (left) gets answers to questions about reading books on her iPad from Indian Prairie reference librarian Suzanne Deucher. | Photos by Sandy Illian Bosch
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:22AM
Susan Marshall of Burr Ridge went to Indian Prairie Public Library just intending to check out a couple of summer reads, but decided along the way to get some advice on how to use her new Kindle, too.
“I really want to be able to do this,” said Marshall, who has had her electronic reader for about three weeks.
Marshall was one of several people who stopped by the library last week to get help navigating the growing world of electronic books. Reference librarian Suzanne Deucher said three classes held in June to help people use their e-readers were filled to capacity, so she conducted a drop-in session June 28 where anyone could get questions answered, including how to download the library’s growing collection of electronic books.
“Our collection is growing steadily, as is demand,” library marketing director Cris Cigler said.
While overall circulation at the library is up 7 percent from a year ago, use of electronic books has increased by 146 percent, Cigler said.
“Our biggest month over the past year was January,” said Cigler, who suspects holiday gifts were behind the surge.
It was a Mother’s Day gift that brought Mary Ellen Koenig to the library. She came to learn how to download books onto her iPad, and went away with her first book loaded and ready to read.
Deucher said Indian Prairie cardholders have access to 12,000 electronic fiction and non-fiction books, with more soon to be added.
“It’s so convenient for people,” Deucher said.
She said an e-reader is easier to carry around than a stack of books, and there are never any late fees. The book simply disappears from the patron’s device when the two-week checkout period is complete. And the books can be checked out without ever setting foot inside the library itself.
In addition to the classes and drop-in sessions, Deucher developed step-by-step videos, available on the library’s website, that walk people through the process of downloading books to their Kindle, iPad, Nook or other device. The library also has several pamphlets to help people choose the right device and use it.
The American Library Association, reacting to the Pew Research Center’s recent Internet & American Life Project report, “Libraries, Patrons, and E-books,” recently released a statement that addresses the challenges faced by libraries as more readers trade in paper pages for electronic files.
“The new report underscores that libraries continue to be a vital part of people’s lives in the digital age. Close to 70 percent of people say their local library is important to them and their family, and a majority of adults 16 years and older (58 percent) are library cardholders,” said Molly Raphael, president of the Library Association.
“The double- and triple-digit growth libraries have reported in demand for e-books, desire for access to e-book readers, and requests for e-book reader assistance and classes clearly express a hunger for these services,” she said.
Deucher said she has noticed a dramatic increase in demand for e-books since the 2010 holiday season. That’s when a lot of people started to get e-readers as gifts, she said.
“The prices of e-readers are coming down so much,” she said. “They’re really affordable.”
Deucher said the library purchases copies of e-books the same way it purchases paper books, but unlike traditional books, electronic books never need to be replaced.
Books can be downloaded to any e-reader via the library’s website, www.indianprairie.lib.il.us.