Calloway County Public Library is expanding their library by offering e-checkouts and online music downloads.
“We started offering the checkouts online in about the middle of last year, and it has been very successful since then. People really seem to like it,” said A.J. Boston, circulation manager.
The system, unlike traditional checkouts, does not rely on trusting individuals to return materials. The e-books can be checked out using online systems anywhere, anytime, and will disappear from the device when the time has run out.
“Online services were becoming more popular at other libraries, so our patrons were asking if we could provide that service,” said Sandy Linn, one of the implementers of the new system. “We began looking at different systems and ways to make these online services available for our customers. Patrons have been very appreciative because purchasing every book we read can become extremely costly.”
She said the system is also very convenient, not only for the library, but also for the individual, as it allows them to check books out anywhere while also relieving the worry of late fees.
“The program has been tremendously successful since we went live with the service last May,” Linn said. “We had determined that our patrons wanted online services like being able to renew books, put books on hold and check their accounts, so we began planning to implement the system two to three years ago.”
The instructions for the system can be found online at the library’s website. They can be used with nearly any e-reading device including iPads, Kindles, Nooks or Sony e-Readers.
The instructions will take readers step-by-step as they learn to obtain books from the various places available within the system. Boston said getting used to the system can be tricky for some people at first, but once people have the hang of it, it is a great resource.
“We have put PDF files on how to do it with Kentucky Unbound, and we drew from other libraries’ instructions to try and make it as easy as possible,” Linn said. “I haven’t heard it was too complicated, and it seems pretty straightforward and easy to follow. Not too many people have found it difficult, but we are always happy to walk people through it.”
The library has found that meeting readers in the middle is the best way to go. The e-checkout system still allows readers to use the library resources, while allowing access at any time, no matter the library hours. It also allows those without transportation to access books at will.
“Everyone loves being able to check out books and media from home,” Linn said. “If you’re reading a series, you don’t have to wait for the library and you can get it immediately.”
Linn said the books circulated through the system are not purchased much differently than those bought in print. Like regular books, the e-books can be purchased for a certain number of circulations then must be repurchased when the limit is reached.
“Kentucky Libraries Unbound is a consortium of Kentucky libraries, and each library pays an annual fee to be a part of it, or you can pay to have an advantage account,” Linn said. “We have (the advantage) account because it adds the service for our patrons that allows us access to best sellers and books that have e-book distribute limits. Those advantages are exclusive to our patrons.”
The library has also recently expanded its online services to include a legal online music downloading system called Freegal. The system, recommended by library patrons, is a legal music downloading system that allows users a limited number of free music downloads each week.
“Freegal is an awesome service we have,” Linn said. “It’s a free and legal service we subscribed to a few months ago that offers our patrons three free music downloads per week. All you need is an active library card and the songs are yours. The downloads are legal, and we’d had a lot of requests for it, so we researched it and it’s brand new.”
Downloads from Freegal work with all MP3s and iPods and can also be loaded into iTunes.
Linn said: “We’ve gotten lots of positive feedback, and so far it seems to be a success.”
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Story by Shannon MacAllister, Staff writer.