8/22/2013 - A 74-foot, 18-wheel “Digital Bookmobile” is making its way through the Granite State this week to spread the word about New Hampshire’s digital book collection.
New Hampshire has been offering a digital book collection for about seven years now, and it has become increasingly popular, not just because people are reading on smartphones and tablets more than ever, but also because it means you can take out books without setting foot in a library. You just need to be a member of one of the 190 libraries in the state that are part of the New Hampshire Downloadable Books Consortium (find out if yours is a member at nh.lib.overdrive.com).
“I talk to people all the time who say they didn’t know about this service,” said Bobbi Slossar, technology resources librarian at the New Hampshire State Library. “We’re excited to share our eBooks and digital audiobooks with more people. It’s nearly a statewide program. … We have 7,366 eBook titles and 6,878 audiobooks.”
Residents who want to learn more are invited to check out the Digital Bookmobile at one of the three stops it makes in New Hampshire during its national tour. It stops in Portsmouth on Tuesday, Aug. 27, from noon to 6 p.m.; at the New Hampshire Statehouse in Concord on Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and in the the Alvirne High School parking lot (right next to the Rodgers Memorial Library) on Thursday, Aug. 29, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The truck is blue, green and red with the OverDrive slogan splashed on the front (the vendor who provides this service), but the real treat is inside. The Digital Bookmobile is equipped with broadband Internet-connected PCs, high-definition monitors, premium sound systems and a “gadget gallery,” where visitors can learn which devices work with library downloads and how to use them. Librarians from all over the state and OverDrive representatives will be available to answer questions about the devices, about OverDrive and about the collection.
Slossar says the event is helpful for patrons who want to utilize this service while using their own devices, but also for those readers who are in the market to buy a tablet or smartphone.
Lori Fisher, director at the Baker Free Library in Bow, thinks more people would utilize their public libraries more often if they knew about this service. Digital books are more accessible for the readers who just don’t have the time to visit the library during business hours.
Demand shows that the Downloadable Book Consortium is already a very popular service; Slossar said that in July, 53,441 audiobooks and eBooks were circulated in New Hampshire.
The efforts to further promote digital books don’t mean libraries are discouraging patrons from utilizing print media. In fact, Fisher said, print demand has remained quite steady during the digital boom at the Baker Free Library in Bow.
“It’s not a matter of print books vs. audio books. It’s a matter of when you want to use them. I don’t think that print will go anywhere,” Fisher said.
Going digital also means late fees will be a thing of the past — books are automatically returned to the collection on the date they’re due.