Library cardholders have access to 300 magazine titles, 3 million songs

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

Library patrons who received iPads, smartphones or MP3 players for Christmas will have more opportunity to use them with their library cards.

In addition to the free access to electronic books that libraries have offered for some time, cardholders in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County now can read 300 magazine titles on portable devices or computers as a result of expanded digital service. And patrons of the city and Moon libraries can download as many as three songs a week.

The price is right for both services: They're free.

“What we found last year in January was the demand for people who wanted to access our electronic collection really shot up,” said Kristilee Williams, library assistant at the Northland Library in McCandless.

Bracing for the onslaught of gift recipients, Northland is holding a drop-in session from 1 to 8 p.m. Jan. 10 for all patrons who received an iPad, Kindle or other such device and want to learn how to use it to browse the library's collection.

On Dec. 3, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh began offering Zinio, a digital magazine service, for anyone with a card from a library in Allegheny County, and Freegal, a service that allows Carnegie cardholders to choose from among 3 million songs.

“We had really great feedback. People said there's so much to choose from, they don't know where to start,” said Sarah Beasley, digital coordinator for the Carnegie Library.

As of Wednesday, she said the Carnegie system had 776 downloads of music on Freegal and 7,804 clicks on magazines through Zinio, which is offered for patrons countywide.

Beasley said that the song and magazine titles that patrons download can be kept. They do not expire. The parent companies of the download services negotiate fees to allow that, she said.

Adele's “Freefall,” the theme song of the new James Bond movie “Skyfall,” leads the Carnegie Library in downloads.

Moon Township Public Library began offering Freegal in the spring. It is not part of the Carnegie system but purchased and began offering the service in April, before the Carnegie system did.

“For many people, that's the only way they get their music now — downloading it,” said Suzy Ruskin, executive director of the Moon Library. “The younger they are, the less likely they're checking out a CD. Because we see that shift, I wanted to see the library ahead of that curve.”Among digital magazines, “Consumer Reports” leads the pack, librarians said. “Model Railroader” for hobbyists and “Inked” for tattoo lovers also are available. There are no limits on Zinio.

“Any digital material is the publishing model going forward,” said Marilyn Jenkins, executive director of the Allegheny County Library Association in Homestead. “It is definitely the wave of the future, and we're there already.”

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or

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