Chch libraries opt for portable e-book readers

Christchurch City Libraries opted for portable e-book readers from vendor Rocket in its trial, rather than taking Auckland City Libraries' online approach.

Christchurch City Libraries opted for portable e-book readers from vendor Rocket in its trial, rather than taking Auckland City Libraries’ online approach (see E-books trial proves popular).

The main reason was access to content, says library resources services manager Anne Anderson.

“We looked at providers like NetLibrary and the content they offered, and it was more academic, reference and older classics. We were looking at what would be of the most interest to borrowers at a public library and saw that handheld devices were better supported by publishers of popular books.”

The Christchurch trial started last July and, before that, displays of handheld devices — including specialised book readers like Rocket, as well as a PalmPilot and laptop PC — were created at the city’s libraries.

The library owns 10 Rocket e-book readers, each of which can store several titles. The library buys an electronic title, stores it and transfers it to the e-book reader. “We only have titles on the e-book readers that we also have in paper form.”

Christchurch City Libraries IT manager John Truesdale was heavily involved in getting the project started, Anderson says. “Before the trial started, we set in place systems for how we would purchase and load titles — borrowers can delete titles they don’t want to read and can make notes on the pages. We had to work out procedures to make sure it all worked correctly.”

One of the biggest thumbs-ups from users is the ability of older borrowers to read titles in large type print that aren’t available as large print paper titles. Borrowers also like to use the reader’s backlighting to read in the dark. “They like being able to read while their partner is asleep.”

The trial has another five months to run and the library is looking at what it needs to do next. “Do we expand?” Anderson asks.

Library popular centre team leader Robyn Stewart didn’t have figures for borrowings, but said the e-books service was sufficiently popular that all 10 readers are usually out and have waiting lists.

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