Gaining Virtual Ground: Digital Reading at Pratt Library

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By Anjanette Wiggins

In May 2011, e-retailer announced that sales of e-books outpaced sales of print books on its website. This past June, the Association of American Publishers issued a report indicating that for the first time in the U.S., e-book sales surpassed hardcover book sales. Similarly, tablet and e-reader ownership doubled between December 2011 and January 2012.

Click here to borrow e-books from the Pratt Library to read on your device.

Clearly, digital reading and the devices that facilitate it are gaining ground with increasing rapidity. Yet, a June report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that only about 12% of library patrons borrowed e-books from their local library. Most patrons surveyed, about 62%, did not know if their local library provided e-book borrowing services, despite findings that about 76% of libraries in the U.S. now lend e-books. Libraries need to do more to market their digital lending services to their customers. In that vein, Pratt Library increased its digital lending profile over the past year by offering an e-reader lending service, presenting e-reader and e-book workshops, and expanding its collection of digital reading materials.

One of the circulating Nooks from Pratt LibraryIn August 2011, Pratt customers started borrowing Nooks from the Reisterstown Road and Waverly branches. Since then, the service has expanded to Central and all neighborhood branches in Pratt’s system. Customers can borrow the e-readers for three weeks and enjoy twenty-two preloaded e-books. The service aims to familiarize library customers with e-reader technology and give them a taste of the digital reading experience. Reserving a Nook is an easy process: visit Pratt’s online catalog, search with the keywords ‘Nook’ or ‘ereader’, then place a hold using your Pratt Library card.

Teaching customers about e-books and e-readers is another facet of Pratt’s e-reading effort. Over the past year, library customers attended workshops about e-books and e-readers. The workshops covered a variety of topics including understanding different e-book formats, reviewing and using some of the popular e-readers available, finding resources for free e-books and audiobooks, and demonstrating the e-book borrowing service available to Maryland library users through the Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium website. The response to these workshops has been exciting and very encouraging. However, Pratt isn’t the only library system involved with digital reading services.

Pratt Library is part of a consortium to lend e-books and digital audiobooks to library customers throughout Maryland. The Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium is a collaboration among the public library systems in the state to build and lend a collection of e-books statewide. In addition to the statewide collection, each library system has developed collections exclusively for the use of their own customers. The materials can be read with a vast selection of digital reading devices, and some e-books can be read directly in a web browser without downloading any files. New titles are added regularly, including some bestsellers.

Lending digital reading materials is another way that Pratt Library strives to stay at the forefront of providing library customers with new, interesting, and relevant services.

The Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium Web site

This is a great blog post, a wonderful explanation of all the Pratt has to offer regarding e-books and e-readers! I have been hesitant to purchase an e-reader before taking one for a test run (or test novel), but luckily the Pratt now provides me this opportunity.
Posted by: Brittney at 8/7/2012 3:56 p.m.

I agree, very well explained! It can be a bit daunting if you haven't tried it yourself, but I've seen Anjanette do a workshop on the topic and it's really helpful to have someone knowledgeable to show you all the options. Also, here's a direct link to the Nooks available to check out at the library:{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVER
Posted by: Teresa at 8/7/2012 4:12 p.m.

Pratt has definitely expanded its profile in regard to e-readers over the past year. It's been very fascinating learning and teaching about the different types of e-readers and tablets out there. Hopefully, in the near future, Pratt will go a step further and let customers borrow e-readers they can use to store their own e-books.
Posted by: Anjanette at 8/7/2012 4:24 p.m.

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