Digital libraries paving way to future

Lindsey Davis/Staff Writer

The definition of a library is slowly expanding with the edition of digital books. With a huge fan base hooked on Kindles, libraries are expanding their collections in response to the enormous demand for e-books. Usually one must buy a book to download onto an e-reader, but just like libraries do with paper copies of books, many are now offering books to check out for a certain period of time.

Cedar Falls Public Library and the high school’s library have teamed up to provide these services to students. Librarian Kim Traw explained how this works:

“The high school does not really have a ‘digital library’ like the public library does. You can ‘borrow’ e-books to download to your own device from the public library. The high school does not offer that service (yet). You can borrow Kindles from our library. We have purchased digital editions of books and downloaded them onto the library’s six Kindles,” Traw said.

So far, each of the Kindles has around 25 books installed. They can be checked out for three weeks at a time, just like a book. Students should beware, though, for overdue fines still exist at 10 cents a day.

Tried and true readers may become wary of the creation of these digital books. Many worry that print is going out of style. Digital books reduce the magic of lying back and flipping through the pages of a classic. But have no fear, librarian Kristi Anhalt has no concern that books will go out of print.

“There are too many archival libraries with documents that have not even been cataloged yet, let alone digitized.”

The only real concern with digital libraries are equity issues. Anyone can check out a book, but to check out a digital book one must own a device on which to read it. The positive effects of e-books outweigh any negatives.

“A digital library provides reading material that is always available. You can download the books from your home or any computer with Internet access. I suspect convenience is the most positive effect,” Traw said.

“The digital library offers better customer service since titles are available within minutes of a request if we have a Kindle available for check out,” Anhalt said.

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