In a campaign to help New Yorkers understand their Kindles, Nooks and iPads, the New York Public Library has launched a new online service.
Called eBook central, the scheme has run since last month, and includes detailed information on how to implement and use the Library's digital collections on reading devices. If you want individual help, then you can currently bring your device in to the library and receive assistance from staff.
The website also includes details on accessing free educational applications, including the popular catalog app Bibliocommons.
According to Lauren Lampasone, digital producer from the Library's Reference and Research Services, this service launch has become a pressing need:
"Every year, right after the holidays, the Library's Ask NYPL reference line is inundated with calls from people who need help with their brand new e-readers. We also saw a spike earlier this year when our ebooks became compatible with Kindles and people needed help downloading them. There is a clear need for this information, and the Library -- which always aims to improve access to free materials -- is meeting that need with eBook Central."
In partnership with Overdrive, a global distributor of eBooks, the library currently offers over 36,000 digital items within its catalog, including 22,000 eBook titles. There are nearly 50,000 eBooks available – including books in Chinese and Spanish – when multiple copies and various formats are taken into account.
To access them, readers simply use their library card. Downloadable items have been offered since September 2011m and It is estimated that 18 million patrons currently visit the library every year.
The popularity of eBooks and digital material continues to grow, so we are likely to see these kinds of services become implemented across a wider scale in the next few years.
With more people turning to digital versions of books, although the market has not made an extreme, definable impact in print publishing, it may be a good business model for more libraries to implement if they wish to entice younger readers to enter their doors, and remain profitable.