WILKES-BARRE – The Luzerne County Library System is now offering book worms a new way to enjoy the written word, through e-books.
As of Oct. 1, the ten libraries of the Luzerne Library System — four branches of the Osterhout Free Library and the Hazleton Public Library — have a growing selection of e-books to offer members, said Richard C. Miller, MLS, executive director of the Osterhout Free Library.
E-books have been gaining popularity since 2009 when the iPad, Nooks and Kindles were marketed. Miller said many patrons have been asking for e-books at all of the libraries.
“E-books have been around for several years and more people have become comfortable with utilizing mobile devices for serious reading,” Miller said. “Libraries have always provided information to the public. The e-book is just another way to deliver the information.”
Since the official roll out of the program, the library system has loaned out 370 e-books. The e-book collection consists of about 1,500 titles and more are added every day, he said.
In order to curl up with a good read, a free Luzerne County Library card is still the key. Miller said anyone with a home computer or internet connection can access the downloadable books.
“It is also compatible with most portable devices such as tablets, smart phones and e-readers,” he said. “There is one e-reader vendor that is very proprietary, so using their devices is more difficult but our libraries and our e-book website contain directions for all the major devices.”
Library staff members are available for assistance, he said.
Only three e-books will be loaned out for 14 days. Miller said the software will control this and once the expiration is reached, the book will “go away”.
The software used to offer this program is called Axis 360, also called Magic Wall, and was obtained when the Luzerne County Library System signed a contract with Baker & Taylor, a library services company.
Miller said this was just a stepping stone, library cards had to be authenticated to allow residents access, the website had to be tested, and staff members had to be trained. Then titles had to be purchased and test pilot programs were held in different areas.
“Since the first test libraries introduced the service, more than 500 library loans have been made,” he said.
The current e-book library collection includes adult and youth fiction, health resources and popular non-fiction.
“Some people have noticed that a few of their favorite authors are not represented, but there are always new writers and subjects to explore,” Miller said.
The response from the communities has been favorable, he said.
“Our users have been asking for this type of service and we are fortunate that we were able to fund this through the Wilkes-Barre Library District,” Miller said. “Many of our libraries have also contributed providing a robust collection.”