Technology-Headlines

by George Heymann

E-books and more from your local library!

Libraries have always been and continue to be great community resources. No matter what part of the country you live in Libraries are evolving to meet the needs of the communities they serve. This story is about our local Library District instituting an e-book program in our community. Similar programs are already available in many communities around the country. Additional information on how to utilize these digital resources after the break.

If you are an avid reader and are interested in consuming that content in digital form, 2011 is going to be a very good year for Pueblo-County residents. Pueblo City-County Library District (PCCLD) expects to have its Centers of New Information (Ebook program) available by June 2011, according to Executive Director Jon Walker.

Jon Walker Executive Director Pueblo City-County Library District

Said Walker, “A total of $100,000 in grants has already been promised to help jump-start the PCCLD program. Presently, the funds have been earmarked by the U.S. Department of Commerce, locally by the Friends of the Library as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And additional grants are pending.  “The Ebook digital content provider for the PCCLD program has not been finalized at this time. We may utilize a combination of services instead of a single-source provider.”

Robert Hoag Rawlings

The supported platforms, mobile devices, electronic catalogs, digital rights management (DRM) and checkout periods for the digital content cannot be specified until the selections are final, as the electronic catalogs and terms of use vary from provider to provider.

I wanted to gain some insight as to what Pueblo’s digital future might look like so I made the trip to Fountain to register with our neighboring Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD), which has already implemented an Ebook program.

Fountain Branch Library

The PPLD uses Overdrive Media Console for audiobooks and video; Adobe Digital Editions for Adobe PDF and Epub Ebooks, and Mobipocket for Mobipocket Ebooks.

The PPLD website provides a series of on-line flash tutorials that you can watch to familiarize yourself with the available services, as well as the software you need to download and install in order to utilize those resources. The multimedia presentations provide comprehensive instructions broken down into smaller, easy-to-digest sections that can answer many of the frequently asked user questions. There also is a separate page with step-by-step instructions that provide additional help.

Once you download the requisite software, you can log in with your PPLD card and pin number. Once signed in, you can search the digital catalog, check out your selected titles and download the Ebooks to your computer (Mac or PC). The downloads are yours to use for the period specified at checkout time (up to 21 days). There also is an option to transfer the ebooks or other digital materials to supported mobile devices, but they are not required.

One of the exciting prospects of being able to check out Ebooks from the library, besides the cost (free), is being able to check out a book from the convenience of home. I also appreciate the fact that if I get busy, I don’t  have to worry about being late returning a book. The Ebooks simply expire — never a late fee.

Another exciting aspect of the upcoming Pueblo program is that PCCLD intends to make a limited number of wireless mobile devices available for use along with the new digital Ebook content.

When asked how the Library will be able to provide access to these expensive mobile devices, Executive Director Walker explained, “The intrinsic value of a book is different today than it was 100 years ago. Then, books were more of a luxury item that could only be afforded by the wealthy. Trusting the general public with those precious items took a leap of faith then, as it will with these electronic items today.” I had not thought about books in those terms before.

Although all of the details of the PCCLD program haven’t been finalized, what is clear is that even in the “Internet age” the Library is more relevant than ever, and continues to be a great community resource. The way 2011 is shaping up it looks like the hot ticket may be a “library card” from PCCLD.

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