Libraries offer electronic reading options
Move over Funk and Wagnalls -- the e-books are here.
Armstrong County libraries in Apollo, Ford City, Kittanning and Worthington-West Franklin will still have thousands of works of fiction, nonfiction and reference on their shelves; however, hundreds of stories can now be checked and carried out in one hand.
What was once contained in a stack of books weighing as much as the tree used to make their pages can now be contained in an envelope-sized electronic device, an e-reader.
Various devices can be considered e-readers. According to Timi Kost, director of the Worthington-West Franklin Community Library, "The spectrum of reading devices ranges from the smartphone to the iPad and then dedicated readers such as Nook and Kindle."
E-readers can hold a wide range of text, from newspapers and other periodicals, to best sellers and classic literature, or all of those and then some.
The four L.A.M.B. (Lawrence, Armstrong, Mercer and Butler counties) libraries have the capability to offer free downloads to members. The service is made possible through the New Castle District Library Center, which provides other network services such as interlibrary loans of books and media as well as technical support to its members.
Anyone with a valid library card can download to PC, Mac and mobile devices their selections from OverDrive, a digital distributor of e-books, audiobooks, music and video. Patrons who want to use the new service will need to install free software, which will allow them to access titles, at no cost, to enjoy immediately or transfer them to another device for later use. Titles will automatically expire at the end of the library's lending period.
Individual libraries are also equipping themselves with the necessary devices to give patrons who might otherwise miss out on this state-of-the-art opportunity a chance to experience it firsthand.
"We wanted to offer our patrons a more affordable way to read e-books," said Beth Milanak, director of the Kittanning Public Library. For those patrons who already own a reading device, their personal collections can be expanded with downloading. For readers who have not yet made the transition to digital , e-readers are or soon will be available to use.
Kittanning has five Kindle reading devices for loan. "We wanted to make it possible for all of our members to try this new technology," Milanak explained.
In the Ford City Public Library, a similar scenario is taking place. "We are following Kittanning's lead," said director Anita Bowser. "We're just using Nooks." Although they are not yet in use, Bowser said, five of the Nooks, which are affiliated with Barnes & Noble booksellers (Kindles coordinate with Amazon), will be ready for loan by the end of this month. Kittanning also plans to incorporate Nooks into its program.
Attention is being given to a particular group of authors, Bowser said. "We have many local authors and would like our patrons to have a chance to read their works, so we are including as many as possible in our downloads."
Apollo Memorial Library is implementing use of e-readers; however, initially they will be for in-house use only. Tina Zins, library director, said, "We have seven different e-readers available for our members to try in the library." She said that a plan for loaning devices is being developed.
The Worthington-West Franklin program is still in the planning stages, Kost said, but patrons are advised to watch for developments and the opportunity for learning. "We are planning to give our members the chance for hands-on exploration in the library with different e-readers, so that they can get comfortable with them and compare/contrast the different types."
Kost said that the differences in dedicated e-readers, such as Nook and Kindle, are primarily the way in which the information is displayed. Such features would include whether or not the characters are visible in sunlight and/or a light is needed for viewing in the dark or diminished light. "We hope to reach people who are curious about this technology and would like to be more familiar with it before purchasing or using it," Kost added.
All the L.A.M.B branches plan to offer instruction and support for members in the new venture.
Special consideration has been given to the lending process, and procedure may vary according to those libraries that will have devices for loan. Patrons may be asked to sign agreements to help ensure the safe return of the devices. They also may have to be an established member before they can take technology home with them. Members are encouraged to contact their library for details.
"We are very excited about this countywide effort," Milanak said. "We see the addition of this technology as an enhancement to our collections and services."
Contacting your library
All library branches share a common website: www.armstronglibraries.org
They also can be reached individually:
Apollo Memorial Library Director Tina Zins -- 724-478-4214
Ford City Public Library Director Anita Bowser -- 724-763-3591
Kittanning Public Library Director Beth Milanak -- 724-543-1383
Worthington-West Franklin Community Library Director Timi Kost -- 724-297-3762