E-book Downloads Soar for Delco Libraries
Audio books and e-books bring local libraries to the digital age and provide different formats for different readers.
No longer entering the digital age but fully in the midst of it, technology has found itself in nearly every corner of our lives.
From smart phones to now books, libraries are also dealing with the new technology that has affected the various types of books available for reading.
Since mid-September of last year, the Delaware County Library System (DCLS) reported 2,225 e-books have been downloaded. Of those downloads, 133 e-books were downloaded by Marple (72 downloads) and Newtown (61 downloads) residents alone.
To date, DCLS saw its highest number of e-book downloads the day after Christmas last year.
David Belanger, director of DCLS, believes this was due to the fact that the area was hit with a snowstorm and many people just received their Christmas gifts in which a popular item of late have been e-book readers such as the Kindle.
"It [e-book downloads] has been picking up, there have been a lot of e-book readers over the holiday," said Belanger. "Starting Dec. 23, we had a significant use of e-books double. The more we buy, the more people use them."
Belanger said libraries have been incorporating technology into their circulation nearly 20 years ago when books were converted to cassette tapes. Since then, libraries have also used audio books and now e-books.
Although the number of people using audio books and e-books have soared over the years, Belanger said it "really hasn't impacted circulation of other materials all that much but the growth has been much greater than other formats."
In 2007, Belanger said the local libraries haven't seen that many downloads of audio books but between 2008-2009, the number nearly doubled.
"The past three years have been the busiest ever," said Belanger in regards to the number. Now add in e-book downloads, Belanger said, between the two, DCLS has seen more digital readers than eight physical libraries combined.
This month, DCLS is looking at a circulation of about 3,000 e-books and audio books. They average 200,000 in circulation of regular books.
Belanger believes more people are using digital books instead of traditional books because of its convenience. According to Belanger, about 25 to 30 percent of e-books and audio books in DCLS were checked out after library hours (after 9 p.m. and before 9 a.m.).
The most popular books he sees being checked out are adult books, especially romance novels. His theory?
"Some people may not like to be seen on the train or bus reading those novels especially with those covers," said Belanger. "They're very popular though."
With the new book format, libraries now have to take into account purchasing e-books, audio books and regular books of the same title, however, DCLS currently takes care of e-books for its local libraries in the county.
But Belanger reassured, "we've worked on some of our budget from moving one priority to another to have this available."
The new digital format of borrowing books and a possibility of library patrons reducing in number doesn't worry Belanger.
"There's still so much more going on in libraries that i don't think it's going to be one or the either," said Belanger. "I think it will be both. I think people will still want to read the physical books, there are book discussions and programs at the libraries that people want to go to. So I think there are other things that will get people to go there. It will be more of a community place."
This year, DCLS plans to spend $25,000 on downloadable e-books and $36,000 on audio books. Any DCLS cardholder can borrow e-books and audio books through their digital library here.