For some, there is no better feeling than purchasing a book, racing home to read it and the smell of new pages being turned for the first time.
Unless, of course, you can download that book to your own electronic device without ever having to leave your home.
For Beaver and Lawrence County libraries, there has been a huge surge in readers who utilize digital collections, ranging from publications to audio books, and even magazines and newspapers.
Jodi Oliver, director of the Beaver County Library System, said since the inception of digital book downloads in 2011, more and more readers are choosing the convenience of electronic resources.
“When we first started loaning books electronically, we only had about 6,000 downloads. In 2016, we had 25,181. It’s become quite popular, and we’ve really seen a lot of interest in audiobooks,” Oliver said.
For the estimated 1,800 users of electronic reading devices in Beaver County, Oliver said that the libraries within the Beaver County Library System all contribute a fee of $500 annually, which is used toward the purchase of new eBooks, audio books and videos.
Veronica Pacella, director of the Ellwood City Public Library agrees with Oliver that there has been an insurgence of eBooks, contributing to the near 10,000-per-month circulation of reading materials that are consumed by users.
“I think people like the idea that they don’t have to come into the library to grab a book,” Pacella said. “They can just download from the website, OverDrive. It’s free — they have two weeks to read the book and they can check out two books at a time.”
OverDrive is the eBook platform utilized by both the Beaver and Lawrence County Library Systems, as well as by most of the libraries across the country. Broken down into two categories, eBooks and audiobooks, OverDrive can be downloaded on to most Apple, Android, Windows, Nook, Chromebook and Kindle devices. Once the application is downloaded, readers have access to thousands of free resources through their local library’s collection. Some authors place limits on how many times their publications can be loaned, but for the most part, neither Oliver nor Pacella have experienced any issues with exhausted check-outs.
Oliver believes that eBooks have only enhanced people’s interest in reading.