By Jason KUROSU
Rapid changes in technology have forced many industries to adjust and evolve, including libraries, one of the many institutions for which “paperless” has become a ubiquitous term. Earlier this year, the first wholly digital library in the country opened in San Antonio, Texas, either the first of a niche establishment or the logical next step for libraries.
While local libraries have not completely abandoned paper books, the use of e-books has become more prevalent over the years. The La Crescenta Public Library has been offering e-books for checkout for the past few years and recently has been able to provide items from other mediums. The last year has seen the library add magazines, movies and music to its digital collection. Through services such as Overdrive, Freegal, Hoopla and Zinio, library card holders can access a variety of items through the library’s website and on various devices, including Kindles, Nooks, iPads, smart phones and others.
Though the digital catalogs are not limitless, library manager Marta Wiggins said the library will do what it can to seek out those titles, as well as help readers attain books on their devices.
“The library can’t publish everything,” said Wiggins. “Some publishers won’t sell their titles to libraries and others will only sell them for exorbitant prices. But we’re always here to help.”
Wiggins also said that the library is expecting Kindles to be available in the near future, which will come preloaded with books from specific genres. However, it is unclear when the Kindles would be made available in La Crescenta, as the county has not committed to an exact date.
For now, library cardholders can check out up to 10 items at a time for a period of one to three weeks. Those with items checked out need not worry about returning the items to the library by the due dates as the items will expire automatically on the user’s device.
Wiggins noted the automatic expiration as one of the advantages of digital items, as well as the opportunity to explore titles outside one’s usual comfort zone.
But Wiggins didn’t believe that the increase of digital media would completely usurp hard- or paperback copies of books.
“If you’re traveling, you might prefer to use a Kindle, whereas if you’re just at home, you might prefer the feel of an actual book,” said Wiggins. “There is a time and place for all these formats.”
For more information on downloadable e-books and other related items, visit the library’s website at http://www.colapublib.org/libs/lacrescenta/index.php.