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Library patrons embrace new reading technology

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Patrons checking out more ebooks

At the Shelton Timberland Regional Library, business is booming.

While patrons are checking out fewer physical books, they are welcoming opportunities to download and check out ebooks.

"And that's okay," library manager Patty Ayala Ross said during a public meeting of the

Shelton City Commission on Monday at the Civic Center.

"The world changes," she said. "We have to change, too."

Member visits have averaged 81.348 each vear from 2009 to 2011. In the first three months of 2012, Ross said library staff has logged more than 56,500 patron visits.

Circulation the checking out of physical materials from the library has gone down gradually since 2009, Ross said, but "member visits are not down at all."

If Ross were to carry the 56,529 visits logged through the final three-quarters of the year, the number of visits more than 226,000 could more than double the most usage in Ross's four years at the Alder Street location.

Many of the library's visitors have embraced new technologies, Ross said. While the number of checked-out physical books has decreased, the number of ebooks downloaded by patrons increased nearly 500 percent in 2011 from 2010.

And this year, the number of ebooks for which patrons are given a temporary code to read a book on their laptop or tablet could quadruple from last year's figure.

Ross herself is a hew convert to digital reading devices. She recently purchased a Kindle Fire, made by Amazon.

"I actually love the thing," said Ross, after acknowledging she initially had some reluctance. "It's quite a nifty tool."

Ross outlined the advantages of using the library's selection of ebooks intead of going to retailers.

First, she said, the library service is free.

"So if you want to stick it to Amazon, come through us," Ross said.

Second, the temporary digital copyright to the reader expires after 21 days. There's no book to turn in.

And, Ross noted, "no fines."

The books "magically disappear," she said.

Ross highlighted the library's effort to reach patrons through social media websites. On Facebook, the Shelton branch boasts only 430 likes, she said.

But the reach is much broader than that.

Those 430 people "have 101,000 friends" on Facebook, Ross said. "They can see whatever we post. That's a lot of reach for nothing."

Ebooks, she said, are "the hot, new, happening thing out there in the world of reading. Our people read." "The world change.We have to change too."

Copyright 2012 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: June 21, 2012

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