MADISON HEIGHTS — Get a Nook or Kindle for Christmas? Have a card for the Madison Heights Public Library? Then you might want to test-drive your new reader with the wealth of free content available through the library’s e-book service.
Back in May, thanks to the passage of the library’s dedicated library millage in 2011, the Madison Heights library joined Download Destination, a group of libraries in Southeast Michigan belonging to The Library Network (TLN) and offering e-books through a program called Overdrive. The Hazel Park library is also part of this group.
Overdrive allows library members to download media like e-books to their reader of choice for a limited period of time, from the comfort of home or wherever they connect online. Borrowed items are automatically “returned” to the database when time is up, so there is no risk of late fees.
Just visit http://tln.lib.over drive.com, search and select the desired materials, and then input your library card number and PIN at the download page. The website will ask for your library, and MHPL will be an option. A link to the download site is also available on the library’s page at the city’s website, www.madison-heights.org/library.
The library pays a $6,000 annual fee, based on population, to utilize the service. About 75 percent of this fee goes toward the purchase of new e-book titles; the rest goes toward website maintenance. At press time, total e-book circulation at MHPL numbered nearly 1,600, with more than 600 titles added to the database since July.
“It’s been very well-received,” said Rebecca Willemsen, library technician. “We had pent-up demand before we went active (May 31); people had already been asking for it, so when we went live, it had an immediate response. The first month we had only 70 (items) checked out, but we started at the end of the month. Now we are increasing circulation of the e-books by an average 20 percent each month.
“I do think it will level out at some point, and maybe it has, because there is a finite number of titles and copies available, and it’s a shared catalog,” she said. “But I do think our demand will go up early in the New Year, because I believe Kindles and Nooks will be huge for Christmas this year.”
The service works with virtually any device that has e-reader capability, including the Apple iPad. And people of all ages are taking to the service, thanks to its intuitive and self-explanatory nature, and accompanying documentation at the library that helps people visualize the step-by-step directions in an easy-to-understand fashion.
Roslyn Yerman, MHPL director, said she and her staff do what they can to assist people with configuring their devices.
“We’re not in a position to sit down with each person one-on-one, but staff can help,” Yerman said. “This (e-book service) addresses a need in the community, where people have been asking for this kind of material. It’s what our public wants.”
Willemsen agreed with this observation.
“E-books are very much the norm for many of the younger kids; they have absolutely no fear of electronic books or devices,” Willemsen said. “Providing this service allows the library to be current and relevant to today’s population.”
The Madison Heights Public Library is located at 240 W. 13 Mile and can be reached by calling (248) 588-7763. The Overdrive program can be accessed through http://tln.lib.over drive.com.