Patrons continue to stream into Tri-State libraries in large
numbers, even as checkouts of printed materials are flat or
declining. The Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library system last
week unveiled new branding and some new programs, which reflect the
impact of the digital age on libraries.
Local libraries of all sizes say that transition has been ongoing
for several years and will not stop. They say investing in
technology is paramount, but as taxpayer-supported entities, they
also cited a need to be judicious and "demand-driven," as EVPL
Director Marcia Au put it.
"We are unlikely to spend large dollars on technology that won't
somehow add to the customer experience and isn't being demanded by
the customer," Au said.
Books in digital form are in high customer demand at libraries
throughout the region, although some major publishing houses -
including Simon & Schuster and Macmillan - still don't offer
titles to libraries in electronic form, frustrating both libraries
Another publishing giant, HarperCollins, announced last year it
would allow a library 26 circulations of an e-book, but after that,
the library would be required to buy another printed copy.
The Indiana Library Federation, the Kentucky Library Association
and the Illinois Library Association are among 44 co-signers of a
statement released this month opposing pricing and licensing terms
publishers and distributors have established for selling e-books to
"In a way, publishers are alienating their customers," said
Emily Irby, community relations director for the Henderson County
(Ky.) Public Library, which has seen growing circulation of the e-
books that are available. "Publishers have always said libraries
help sell their books. But with e-books, they are making it very
Evansville's public library system has offered e-books since
2005. The system's statistics for this year show downloads of e-
books, audiobooks and music this year are up 94 percent over the
same time period last year.
Digital content is fueling the library's growth in total
circulation, which is 3 percent above the same period in 2011.
EVPL announced this week its booster organization purchased 20 e-
reading devices that will be made available to customers on three-
Some smaller libraries in the region have not yet waded into the
Boonville-Warrick County Public Library Director Lois Aigner said
her customers still like traditional books, and she also noted some
major titles still aren't available to libraries because of the
"We are still investigating our best options (on e-books),"
Aigner said. ".. We buy several copies of a best-seller; with the e-
books it's another cost. We have to be cautious of how we allocate
that money. We're slow jumping on the bandwagon on this, but we
want to make the best choice for the amount of money we have to
Boonville's main library branch also has replaced its roof this
year - "a necessity," Aigner said - at a cost of $500,000.
"We're planning on it (offering e-books)," Aigner said. "But
it's a wide-open market, and I feel there will be a lot of changes
in the next six months with a lot of companies jumping on board and
creating new products."
Local libraries of all sizes cited a high public demand for
Internet use. For Boonville's system, which has three branches,
Aigner said keeping computers fast and functional is a major
"More demands are being made on libraries," Aigner said. …