Library offers e-readers

Dustin Walsh does some e-reading (photo by Will Dendis)

Last week, the Saugerties Public Library began lending out six Kindle Paperwhite e-reading devices to its library patrons. The e-readers are loaned out for a two-week period, with the option to renew once for an additional two weeks. If demand is great, there’ll be a waiting list for them in the same way that popular books can be requested and wait-listed, with two of the devices to be set aside and made available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sukrit Goswami says that this program has been something he’s planned to do ever since he became library director of the Saugerties Public Library in April of 2011.

Keeping the library up-to-date is important to the technology-oriented library director, who says that offering e-readers on loan is something every library should do. “We ought to provide the community with what they need and do not readily have access to,” he says, pointing out that libraries have always needed to evolve to other formats when they arose, such as when books became available on CD for the first time. While some patrons may have their own e-readers already, many don’t, and the program will allow those who have never used such a device to give it a try.

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They come pre-loaded with 30 fiction and nonfiction titles, ranging from “The Great Gatsby” to recent releases by David Baldacci, Jodi Picoult, Deborah Harkness, Nicholas Sparks, J.K. Rowling and others. A full list of titles included is available at the library and on www.saugertiespubliclibrary.org/elibrary. Library staff can also download available titles to the e-readers on request.

After considering ordering a variety of e-reading devices, the library opted to streamline things and go with a single model, the Kindle Paperwhite, a recent release Amazon is touting for its high-resolution, glare-free screen. The device holds up to 1,100 books, and features extras like a built-in dictionary – just touch a word and get the definition.

The devices will be loaned out with a “crib sheet” to instruct borrowers on their use, and library staff has been trained and will be available to help patrons navigate the features. Erin Cassidy, technology librarian in Saugerties, has prepared an extensive FAQ tutorial on the library website that appears to answer virtually every question one could have about how to use the devices and how to download material. (From the home page, simply click on “ebooks.”)

Borrowers will be asked to sign an agreement verifying that staff has checked out the working order of the device and that all parts were present at the time of check-out. Borrowers must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the town of Saugerties, have a verified mailing address and a library record in good standing ($5 or less in fines).

The penalties for overdue e-readers will be $1 per day for two weeks, after which the full replacement cost (about $190, including case and adapter) will be applied to the patron’s record. The devices cannot be returned to the Book Drop or to another library.

When Goswami was library director of the Cohoes Public Library in the Albany region, just before coming to Saugerties, he made e-readers available to borrow there, loaning out several “Nook” devices to patrons. “I’m surprised more libraries haven’t taken the initiative yet,” he says. Similar programs are being offered in our area at libraries in Poughkeepsie, Highland, Pleasant Valley, Garrison and Coxsackie.

With the decrease in prices of the e-readers, says Goswami, the time is right to do this. The next step, he says, will be to offer e-readers for kids, pre-loaded with children’s material. The Kiwanis Club recently gave the library a $3,500 donation for children that will be utilized toward this purpose.

For more information, visit www.saugertiespubliclibrary.org or call 845-246-4317.

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