Libraries enter new age with eBooks

libraries technology

Port Isabel Public Library Director Kristen Kline is seen showcasing the new eBook technology currently being embraced by several area libraries. (Staff photos by Ray Quiroga)

Port Isabel-South Padre PRESS

libraries technology2Patrons of area libraries, welcome to the 21st Century.

As of late August, avid readers now have a choice of format for a number of popular book titles.

The “eBook” or electronic book is available at Laguna Vista, Port Isabel and Los Fresnos Public Libraries with close to 4,000 titles available, most are the latest best sellers.

For the uninitiated, eBooks are digital books which are readable on personal computers or other electronic devices, such as a general purpose computer tablet, or most smart phones usually by downloading an application popularly known as an “app.” While the originator and exact date of inception of the eBook is up for debate, its origins can be traced back to the late 1990s.

As part of a deal negotiated with publishers and the area’s smaller libraries, which defuse the cost of these publications amongst the various entities, audio books are also available at local libraries.

Port Isabel Public Library Director Kristen Kline said that an instructional kiosk, which offers step-by-step instruction on how to download and utilize the apps and eBooks, is available at the library.

Just like a traditional book, library patrons who have a valid library card and are in good standing with the library can download the books and audiobooks at no charge; however, just like a physical book, patrons can only check-out a set number of copies and are allowed access to a particular book for a finite amount of time.

Kline said that despite little publicity as of last week, 122 patrons have checked out eBooks. “And I think that’s pretty good because there’s been very little publicity on the availability of eBooks,” she said.

In all, four local libraries qualified for a special program in which these libraries pooled their fund and penned a three-year contract with a company named Overdrive to share in the cost of these titles.

Cost was partly based on the size of the communities these libraries serve. Port Isabel Public Library, for example, will pay $3,000 total for a three-year contract, at which point it can renew its deal with Overdrive.

The deal gives the libraries’ patrons access to 3,700 eBooks and 500 audiobooks. Those titles are then shared between 14 libraries in the South Texas Digital Library Consortium of which the Cameron County Library System is a member. “If we were to do this on our own, instead of $3,000 we would be paying $10,000 for the same amount of time for even fewer titles,” Kline said.

As a side note, upwards of 40,000 titles, whose copyright has expired, are available for free on the internet by searching Project Gutenberg on your web browser.

The Port Isabel Public Library is located at 213 North Yturria Street in Port Isabel. For more information on ebooks or any other service at the library, call (956) 943-2265.

Read this story in the Nov. 1 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.

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1 comment

    • Gigli on November 3, 2012 at 11:34 am
    • Reply

    I still love to read real books.

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