Fort Myers Beach Library Goes Digital
Get out your e-Readers and start downloading free books. With the rise in popularity of new gadgets, like the Nook from Barnes & Noble and Amazon’s Kindle, more libraries are investing in these e-Reader technologies and expanding their catalogues with e-Books. The Fort Myers Beach Library is no exception.
Ronn Raszetnik, Electronic Services Librarian, or e-Librarian, for Fort Myers Beach since the beginning of the year, was introduced at the Library Board Meeting in February. He is in charge of all things related to new technologies, including the redesigned library website, catalog and e-Books section. The new website provides access to the revamped catalog, the new e-Books available for download and an online calendar for events and classes.
Whether it’s a best-seller, like the Life of Pi, or the latest release from Danielle Steel, avid readers can find dozens of titles on the new e-Book catalog, powered by Overdrive. From the main page of the website, fmb.lib.fl.us, visitors can click on the "eBooks” tab at the top of the page and browse the large collection of downloadable titles. They can even sample a portion of the book to get a better idea of its contents before virtually checking out the title.
When the Sand Paper visited the library this week, Raszetnik provided a first-hand look at how the new download station on the first floor works. Patrons can bring their Nook, Kindle, iPad, Windows phone, tablet or other device into the library and download books, two at a time, at the self-serve station. Library staff is on-hand to assist those who need help.
"I’ve already trained the staff on how to assist at the download station,” said Raszetnik. "But as more people come in needing assistance, more of our staff will get the hang of it.”
Raszetnik brought out his own e-Reader and demonstrated just how quick and easy it is to download a title from the new e-Book catalog. In a matter of seconds, he was done and could begin reading the book on his Kindle. Most devices can download titles using the library’s wireless Internet connection. There is a dedicated router at the download station to make it faster. The Nook, however, requires connection to the download station’s computer by USB cable.
"We opened the download station here on the first floor June 1st,” he explained. "In the first couple of weeks, we had 22 downloads. I’ve helped quite a few patrons myself.” Raszetnik said he expects to see the numbers climb once the island’s seasonal residents return this fall.
Since coming on-board in January, Raszetnik has been busy retooling the library’s website and online catalog, working on a user-interface for the Overdrive e-Book delivery system and creating and maintaining a Facebook page. The library simultaneously launched a new Facebook page with the website in March of this year. "We have 16 likes,” he said. Patrons can find the page by searching "Fort Myers Beach Public Library” on Facebook.
He said that 73 titles are now available from the library’s e-Book catalog. "We started with best-selling fiction and plan to add more titles.” Just like hardcopy books, e-Books are loaned out for a period of 14 days and can be returned early. "If you keep an e-Book for 14 days, it will simply expire and you won’t have to do anything, but you can only check out two at a time. If you want to return an e-Book once you’ve finished it, it is very easy to do.” For example, patrons using the Kindle actually download books to their Amazon account and can manage their account online. Those with an iTunes account, can download the Overdrive application to help with downloads and returns. Anyone with technical questions can direct them to Raszetnik at the library, 239-765-8162.
According to eweek.com, sales of e-readers are expected to reach 30 million by the end of 2013, nearly doubling last year's sales. And the Huffington Post recently reported, "Electronic book sales increased by $60 million from 2011 to 2012. And during the first quarter of 2012, adult e-books beat out their paper counterparts by approximately $50 million. In 2011, only 15 percent of all books sold were e-books. At the rate e-book sales are increasing, this percentage will increase to 75 percent by 2025.”
That same article commented on the eco-friendly nature of using e-Readers over traditional, hardcopy books. Raszetnik noted that just using a public library provides benefits over purchasing books and discarding them, but he agrees that over time, using e-Readers can reduce one’s carbon footprint. "I’ve read that it’s somewhere around 50 e-Books before you reach the break-even point.” He explained that there is a formula used to calculate the energy consumption of using an e-Reader versus the impact of printing on paper, recycling and waste.
Raszetnik came to Fort Myers Beach from Saint Petersburg, Florida. An off-island resident, he found himself biking to work to avoid seasonal traffic through the winter and spring months. It was no big deal, he says, as he loves the outdoors. "I like to paddle the Gulf waters. I love kayaking, biking, hiking and spending time outdoors.”
The library went to summer hours July 1st, so patrons can meet Raszetnik and try-out the new download station, but the new hours are 9 am - 6 pm, Monday and Wednesday, 9 am – 5 pm Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 9 am – 1 pm Saturdays. "We studied traffic through our doors and these hours just make the most sense,” he added.
Patrons can also download e-Books from home over the Internet, using their Fort Myers Beach Library Card and the new website at fmb.lib.fl.us.