Since the 1890s Verona residents have frequented the Verona Public Library for anything from children’s books to magazines, to archived newspapers, to newly released books, and encyclopedias. All this time though, even with the ability to reserve or renew a book through the VPL Web site, we haven’t been able to download one. That’s all about to change.
At the end of February, the VPL will be in a position to lend books to you via your e-reader. About a year ago, the library decided to investigate the world of e-book lending. As a result of the partnership with ELibraryNJ (formerly ListenNJ, a service for lending audio books) we’ll have access to their library of e-books. That’s right. You will be able to download books to your Kindle or Nook from the VPL for a three-week period of time.
How will this work? While the technical details are still being worked out, the overall workings are based on the VPL being part of a consortium of libraries using this service. This means that you will be able to go to the VPL Web site and search for a title. (If you have never used its Web site for their online services before, you will need your library card to set up an online account). If that title is available, it’s yours. If it’s not available, then you can reserve it and wait until it’s available. Once available, the book is yours to read for three weeks. After those three weeks, the book disappears. If that same title is being held for someone else, you cannot renew it. If it’s not, then renewal may be possible.
As the VPL works with this new service, its popularity, function and usability will be reviewed. The results of that review will determine whether or not the ELibrary service is kept, or if the VPL builds up its own online library. As a frequenter of the library, I wondered if that success may depend on the content and titles available through ELibraryNJ.
I went to the Web site and did some searching on my own using titles and authors of books we have here at home. There are approximately 5,000 e-book titles currently part of ElibraryNJ, but I didn’t know what that would cover from a content perspective. I searched for Magic Tree House and Encyclopedia Brown as series. Books from both are on the site. I also searched by authors Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dennis Lehane. Books from all three authors are on the site as well. I even came across the Pretty Little Liars series, but don’t remember what I typed in to get that result. I also looked for picture books. This seems to be an area of content lacking from the ELibraryNJ site. Personally, I think it’s better for little kids to be in the library and considering that a picture book is more durable than an e-reader this may be a good thing. It’s important to remember that not all books are available as e-books to download. As this is a publisher’s decision, and not a library’s, the ELibraryNJ source seemed to be a good partnership for the VPL.
The full online lending services won’t be available for about another month, and we’ll have a follow up story to let you know exactly how it works and what to do. In the meantime, the VPL Web site is still, and will continue to be, available reserving printed books, renewing books, accessing several text book libraries, the entire Encyclopedia Britannica collection, and the Oxford English Dictionary. While I was researching e-book availability, I had a little contest with my daughter. She opened up the OED on her Kindle, and I accessed it from the VPL Web site. We both searched for the word caterpillar. The search functionality via the VPL website was much, much faster than on her Kindle. Guess what I’ll be using the next time we need to look up the definition or spelling of a word.