Loaning eReaders

eReader on top of a stack of booksMy library is an adventuresome library. We try new things without focusing on whether or not they’ll be successful. That’s not to say we’ll go nuts and start renting hot air balloons or something. Our budget is, like all public libraries, tight. That said, one of the first alternative loan items we introduced was the eReader. It predates me so I can’t speak to the thought process that went into introducing it but I can say a few words on how the loaning works.

We have both Nooks and Kindles that are preloaded with books. They can be checked out like a normal book, a 3 week initial loan period with the option to renew twice. Except you get a couple dozen books for the “price” of one. They say that variety is the spice of life and having a device that allows you to choose among many titles is certainly spicy! (A-hem, sorry.)

For those of us that burn through many a book in a month, this is very handy. I think there’s nothing worse than finishing a book and not having another one lined up. With this Nook I checked out, when I finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I perused the bookshelf and spotted Doctor Sleep. If I finish that book soon enough Gone Girl is waiting in the wings. This Nook is like having my own private library for 3 weeks (or more if I make use of the renewals). It marries the great price a library affords with the immediate gratification the Digital Age ushered in. But what’s more, it can also help the kids.

This summer the teen librarian and I worked to load a set of Nooks with all the summer reading books. Thankfully, not every high school has the same list, so she requested the titles from other libraries as a way to augment our collection. Event still, there wasn’t enough. Enter the Nooks. With all their books loaded on one device, they could check out their entire summer reading list at once and not have to worry about waiting for a title to become available. ‘Twas quite successful.

This offering has proved quite successful. The biggest trouble we have is balancing quantity and quality. The books on the eReaders need to be updated every so often or else it gets stale. But what to do with the books on there now? Should we leave ’em on and allow the patron to wade through a sea of books or archive them off? Would leaving them on make it cumbersome for a patron to find something to read? Would they prefer to have over 100 books on the device? It’s something we’re mulling over now as we work to upload a new batch of books. I’m not sure which way we’ll go but I do know that our decision to offer eReaders was a good one.

Have any of you checked out an eReader? What did you think? Do any of you librarians check out eReaders? How has the offering been received?

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