By BRANDON L. SUMMERS
The e-book revolution isn't coming, it's already here.
Fort Dodge Public Library has had e-books for about three years. The benefits are many, Barb Shultz, library director, said.
"The nice thing about them is that people can check them out from their home, on their own computers, or on their own personal devices, not having to come into the library necessarily," Shultz said. "And they're returned automatically back into the system, so there are no fines or overdue problems with any of those particular books."
The library itself also benefits by offering e-books to its patrons, Shultz said.
"For us, it gives us access to additional material that we don't have to worry about shelving, which is rather important to us because we do have a finite amount of space here," she said. "So we can offer more items for people and make them more available."
The ability to offer e-books to library patrons is a grassroots efforts started by the Northeastern Iowa Bridge to Online Resource Sharing, or NEIBORS, a consortium of 100 libraries, Shultz said.
All libraries in the consortium share an e-book library.
"I believe we have 4,000 titles that are available and there are at least half of them checked out at any time," she said.
A member of NEIBORS, Dayton Public Library began offering e-books on June 1.
"They just offer a very large variety of different materials on electronic books, and its downloadable in a wide variety of formats onto a wide variety of devices," Tanya Campbell, Dayton library director, said. "And there's also electronic audiobooks, some of which you can burn onto CD, which is kind of cool."
There are still some issues, though, with e-book rentals, Campbell said.
"One of the issues is publishers continue to be very limiting as far as how they will allow libraries to use e-books," she said. "That's kind of a big issue. Library associations continue to try to negotiate for more equal accessibility to e-books, kind of on the same par we have with our hardback books."
Among the NEIBORS e-books offerings, Kindle check-outs recently became available to libraries, Campbell said.
"Kindle just came on board this past year, so when you check out from them, NEIBORS will actually link you to the Amazon account, and so you'll check out just like you purchase a Kindle e-book," she said, adding, "only it's a checkout versus a purchase."
The response has been positive since Dayton Public Library started offering e-books, Campbell said.
"The first month we had, 25 items were checked out electronically just from our library, our membership," she said. "I think this is just going to continue to increase. I get inquiries about it every week."
Campbell said it is exciting to be able to offer e-books to her patrons.
"I think it's neat for a small-town library to be able to offer something like that," she said. "I think in a lot of people's minds it's just something a larger library would offer. I see a lot of area libraries starting to offer it."
Fort Dodge Public Library hopes to expand its e-book offerings soon, Shultz said.
"We are in the process of developing 10 Kindles right now with a selection of e-books that are already loaded onto the machines so people could check those out," she said. "I'd like to say by the end of October we'll have those available. We're still in the process of choosing the titles that will go on each of the Kindles, but we would have 10 that would be available for checkout."