Magazine article American Libraries

Digital Books Are Up in the Air

Magazine article American Libraries

Digital Books Are Up in the Air

Article excerpt

Digital resources in the form of ebooks, audiobooks, and other media are beginning to take flight across the country by way of airport library branches.

Branches have popped up in airports around the country, including Philadelphia International; Seattle-Tacoma International; Manhattan (Kans.) Regional; Fort Lauderdale--Hollywood (Fla.) International; Boise (Idaho); and San Antonio International, over the last couple of years, and more are in the works. Library officials say these branches are cost-effective and not only promote the library's digital resources but also encourage travelers to visit their local branches when they return home.

The digital branches have taken different forms, some offering downloadable materials to nonresidents just passing through, while others require borrowers to be a resident of the city where the library is located.

The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) opened two digital library branch kiosks in early 2014 in the San Antonio International Airport, offering more than 58,000 ebooks and downloadable audiobooks, and more than 500 music albums.

Caitlin Cowart, SAPL community and public relations manager, says the kiosks also offer charging stations for mobile deviees."That's how we lure you in," she tells American Libraries.

She says awareness of the digital collection has grown significantly over the last year, but library officials are still working to get the word out to patrons. In fiscal year 2014, the library saw a 36% increase in usage of its digital collection, Cowart says.

"If it were its own branch, it would be the largest in terms of circulation," according to Ignacio Albarracin, SAPL digital services coordinator.

Albarracin notes that a study by the Pew Research Center shows that more than half of library cardholders nationwide were unaware that their libraries offered ebooks.

"It made sense to promote the digital resources in the library, but we felt it was important to promote ebooks outside the libraiy," Albarracin says. …

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