Thanks to e-books, more people are reconnecting to their local public libraries, according to one official.
And with the help of a nonprofit group, more books are now available for folks to read on their Kindles, Nooks and iPads.
“We’ve added 60 patrons just in the past two weeks,” said Beth McIntyre, director of the Piedmont Regional Library System, which serves Jackson, Barrow and Banks counties.
In February, the library system launched its e-book service that allows patrons to check out copies of selected titles online and view them with an e-reader. Most patrons of the Piedmont Regional Library System use Kindles, followed by Nooks and iPads, according to McIntyre.
When the e-book program started, the library system had 480 copies of books available. It now has more than 1,000 e-book copies in its collection.
“We started out with a collection that was only for adults because that’s the money that we had,” McIntyre said.
But last month’s highly successful “E-Vent” by the Friends of the Braselton-West Jackson Library raised $16,400 for the e-book program. With that extra cash, the Piedmont Regional Library System expanded its collection to include children’s e-books.
“It’s a privilege to see some of the results happen because of the check that we gave,” said Friends president Judee McMurdo on Monday.
Before the latest donation, the Piedmont Regional Library System received a $15,000 Jackson EMC Foundation grant to jumpstart its e-book collection. The average e-book costs $17 for the public libraries, according to McIntyre.
Since the e-book program began on Feb. 1, the library system has had 2,982 checkouts of its e-books.
The most popular e-books have been “The Vow” by Kim Carpenter, “Witch and Wizard” by James Patterson and “Escape” by Barbara Delinsky. Some of its children’s titles include “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” and the books in the “Magic Tree House” series. Its young adult titles include “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” the “Maximum Ride” series and “The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things.”
“We never have more than two people waiting (to check out an e-book),” McIntyre said.
Meanwhile, the library system has extended the maximum number of e-books that patrons can checkout at one time from three to 10, she added. The organization still has the same default checkout time — 14 days — although patrons can change that to seven or 21 days.
While the e-book service has been popular for the library system, McIntyre said some publishing companies intentionally make it difficult for public libraries to offer their books for free with such programs.
“It’s a process,” she said. “Sometimes, they make you jump through hoops.”
For those patrons having technical difficulties getting e-books through their devices, McIntyre suggests calling one the of the libraries in the Piedmont Regional Library System. Most of the libraries have at least one employee that can help folks connect to e-books.
For more information, visit the Piedmont Regional Library System’s website at www.prlib.org.