Library gets more digital offerings

Published 7:03 pm Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Suffolk Public Library has seen good success with a variety of electronic media offerings over the past several years, so it is expanding those offerings even more.

The library recently announced a partnership with Total BooX, which gives Suffolk library patrons access to 50,000 e-books, without any limitations, holds or expirations.

“Our goal remains to reinforce the changing landscape of the modern library,” said Clint S. Rudy, library director. “Joining forces with Total BooX is another way for us to offer even more resources to the community, with a simple and friendly user experience.”

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Total BooX offers its titles for instant download. There are no waits or limitations on the number of books on a patron’s device. The e-books remain on the devices indefinitely. Reading on tablets and phones can be done online and offline, and the library is charged only for pages read.

“We want to forever change the relationship between people and books and base it on a new paradigm suitable for the digital age,” said Yoav Lorch, founder and chief executive officer of Total BooX. “Ours is the only e-book service truly focused on reading. We eliminate all barriers separating books and readers, invite people to read and are rewarded based on the actual reading done.”

Kristen Marshall, collection strategy supervisor for the library, said the Suffolk libraries first started offering e-books and e-audiobooks in 2012 through Axis360 and OneClickDigital.

That first year, 1,678 e-books and 802 e-audiobooks were checked out, Marshall said.

“It told us that this was something people in Suffolk were eager for,” she said. “Since then, usage has only increased.”

More digital offerings have been added, too. Hoopla has streaming and downloadable videos, music albums and audiobooks and has recently added e-books and downloadable comics.

Zinio allows users to check out digital magazines and keep them as long as they wish. There are 63 titles to choose from, and many of those have back issues available.

Zinio is being provided to Suffolk Public Library for free thanks to the Library of Virginia, which also is paying for the new partnership with Total BooX.

Circulation of digital media has increased from 2,480 in 2012 to 17,617 in 2014, Marshall said, driven by the additional offerings as well as more people knowing about them.

“By combining our digital services with our outreach efforts like Pop-Up Libraries, we’re able to offer our services to a much greater number of people,” Marshall said.

The digital offerings don’t seem to have affected the circulation of physical media, the old-school books that buttered libraries’ bread for so many years.

The numbers tend to fluctuate but seem to be back on an upswing, Marshall said. Circulation of physical media was 316,884 in 2014, the highest number since 2011 but down from a 2009 high of 372,257.