“I don't have to go down to the library and go through all the shelves to figure out what I need,” 81-year-old Willis Jones said.
Jones is taking advantage of Montrose Regional Library District's access to OverDrive, a distributor of eBooks, audiobooks and other digital materials, which allows him to check out a book and download it onto his electronic device.
The library is one of several, including Norwood Public Library, that have joined Across Colorado Digital Consortium to be able to afford to offer an eBook service to its patrons.
The response from the new service, which started in May 2011, has been overwhelming, according to the Montrose library staff. So popular that the library is holding classes to help people understand how they can use the service on their computer or mobile device. The classes have been overflowing, and as a result, the library is requiring people preregister if they are interested in attending.
“We saw a huge demand, especially after Christmas,” Reference Librarian Sara Anders said.
The Montrose library has held four one-and-a-half hour classes on how to use the OverDrive service. Its next class is Friday, March 9, at 3 p.m..
There also are handouts available that discuss how the service works with each device.
“People like having access to a library anytime they want it,” Anders said. “I think it is a real positive thing for people.”
Jones said he agrees. He got his Nook in January 2011 to read fiction books. Prior to the library's service, he said he purchased most of his books online or got free books, such as A Tale of Two Cities, off websites that provide free downloads of books that are no longer under a copyright agreement.
“I am very happy about the selection and the download process,” Jones said about OverDrive. “It's cheaper, and I get them for 21 days.”
All that is needed is a library card, which is free at the library, and an electronic device to download eBooks or other materials from OverDrive. It can be done via a computer as well, and then transferred to a mobile device.
Anyone can browse OverDrive's selection by going to www.montroselibrary.org and selecting audio/eBooks from the top menu bar.
To browse the downloadable materials, click on the OverDrive icon.
First-time users who plan to check out a book should select My Help! on this page to be walked through the process of checking out a book with a specific device, Reference Librarian Tania Hajjar said.
The program allows the reader to check up to eight items for a seven-, 14- or 21-day period. Once that time expires, the materials are automatically removed from the device, so there are never late fees.
There are a few drawbacks to OverDrive, however, Hajjar said. Because of licensing and publishing rights, only one copy of the electronic book can be checked out at a time. If the book is checked out, there is a waiting list.
And not having a standard process, but rather different downloading instructions for each device, also is a pitfall to the program, she said.
“At this stage, there is a lot of interest, but there is definitely limitations,” Hajjar said.
The cost of the service to libraries also is a hindrance.
Montrose Regional Library District shares the service with about 30 other libraries via the consortium at a price tag of $9,000 per year.
“I'm really excited about [OverDrive], and happy it's been so popular. It shows us that it's worth it,” Anders said.