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Libraries add, expand electronic book services

Many local libraries are adding or expanding electronic book services. About seven months ago, the Metropolitan Library System expanded its electronic media services to include an application that allows users to download books to their iPhone, iPad or Android phone.
BY DARLA SLIPKE Published: July 15, 2011

It didn't matter that the library was closed Sunday night when Lanie James wanted to borrow her next book.

James, dressed in her pajamas, downloaded several electronic books to her iPad using an application called the OverDrive Media Console.

Many local libraries, including the 17 libraries that make up the Metropolitan Library System, are adding and expanding electronic book services. Those services essentially create a virtual library, which allows users to access books on the go, any time of day.

“It's wonderfully convenient,” said James, 35, of Oklahoma City.

Phone downloads

Electronic media services are among the library system's fastest-growing services, said library spokeswoman Kim Terry. Every day, new users join. Every month, the library system adds new books, including many popular titles. About seven months ago, the library system added a service that allows library card holders to download books to their iPhone, iPad or Android phone.

Last month, the library system had nearly 23,000 audio and electronic book checkouts, which is higher than the total monthly circulation for some libraries within the system. Total systemwide circulation for June, including electronic media checkouts, was about 638,000.

The library system has more than 10,000 electronic books and more than 9,000 Windows Media Audio or MP3 downloadable audio books.

Electronic books from the library are not downloadable to Kindle devices, but they will be by the end of the year, Terry said.

Guests of the Metropolitan Library System can choose to borrow electronic books for seven or 14 days, Terry said. At the end of the lending period, the book disappears from their device and goes back into the online circulation, so there are no late fees.

Many popular books have a waiting list because libraries have rights to a limited number of electronic copies, Terry said.

James said the service has saved her time and money. She would have to spend $8 to $15 to buy many of the electronic books she has been able to download for free from the library. So far, every book she has wanted to check out from the library has been available in an electronic format, James said.

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