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Libraries Change and Stay The Same As the Internet Offers New Products

Long Island Reads Chooses Sag Harbor; North Shore Reads Seminar Is on April 14

 If you bought or received a Kindle for the holidays, you are out of luck! You can’t tune in to the Nassau County Library System and download the digital book Sag Harbor, this year’s choice for Long Island Reads. Oyster Bay-East Norwich Public Library Director Suzanne Koch said, “Amazon, which makes the Kindle doesn’t want to give us access. You can, however, have access with a Nook or a Sony Reader. If you go to Sony Space, they tell you how you can download from your library and tells you which is your local library. Sony came to the Nassau County Library System to introduce their new designs when it came out and has been working with us.”

Ms. Koch said the digital books are a great success. “We’ve gotten information from OverDrive that the use of the NC Digital Doorway (provided by OverDrive) has expanded, and exploded during the holidays and it shows that a lot of people got these devices for the holidays.”

She forwarded a link to a library staff message that said, “As previously shared, eBook checkout activity exceeded all expectations over the holidays, and as we head into the new year, high traffic and usage will likely continue.

“With the new mobile apps for eBooks on iPhone and Android, and many patrons trying out their new eBook reader, it’s important that your library staff stay up to speed. We encourage you to download our updated eBook Devices Cheat Sheet, featuring new devices and updated information on how to download the free OverDrive app for eBooks to iPhone and Android. Feel free to share this sheet with your customers too!

“Stay tuned for an updated version as new devices become compatible and apps are released,” it concluded.

Library compatible ebook devices currently include: The Sony Reader; Barnes & Nobles Nook; Kobo eReader; Literati Reader; Pandigital Novel. The field keeps growing so don’t consider this a final list.

Ms. Koch added, “You can also download books on tape, the audio books, as well as the electronic books.” The digital books are still books that are borrowed for a certain time, she said. “They disappear when the time is up, 14 days. There has been some discussion at the Nassau Member Library Director meetings to lengthen that to 21 days, but no decision has been made as yet,” she said.

On the due date, it disappears but you don’t have to go back to the library to return the ‘book’. To the reader that means no late fees, no losing or misplacing books, and no ride to the library! Of course, there are other good reasons to go there in person...

Another thing to consider in the process is that there is a limited number of each title available for downloading so you can get wait-listed. But when deciding which ebook to purchase there are many variables. If you have chosen the Amazon Kindle, they offer a list of bestsellers as well as a list of their bestselling books-free titles. When a book is coming out they offer a limited free download for about three hours. Another advantage is that because of its selling power, it has huge discounts on ebooks. It is cheaper than buying the hard-cover books and if a paperback has been out for a while that price goes down.

The Nook is very popular at Barnes & Noble and the front section of their stores are devoted to Nooks. The choices are endless.


Long Island Reads     

Currently, Long Island Reads has chosen the book Sag Harbor to read. Written by Colson Whitehead, it is described on the local library sites as the  “warm, funny, and supremely original new novel from one of the most acclaimed writers in America.” Mr. Whitehead is the award-winning author of John Henry Days and The Intuitionist.

In her review of the book in the April 26, 2009 issue of The New York Times, Janet Maslin said, “Although Colson Whitehead’s sea-breeze buoyant Sag Harbor seems like an autobiographical novel, its main character is not called Colson Whitehead. Perhaps that’s because Whitehead, in the context of “Sag Harbor,” sounds like a name no self-respecting author would make up. After all, this is a book about a black teenager so white-headed that he summers in the Hamptons, secretly likes the sound of Abba and works in the ice-cream-scooping trade.”


North Shore Reads

Seven local libraries have joined to create North Shore Reads, a division and/or celebration of Long Island Reads. Ms. Koch said, “We do it together to cooperate and save money and although it gets bigger and more elaborate it’s not costing very much. It is a cooperative venture that we have found works very well over the last few years.”

This year North Shore Reads will hold its gala event in Glen Cove. Ms. Koch said, “We are holding the event during National Library Week, on April 14. It will not be at the library because their meeting room is too small, but a venue has not been finalized as yet. It will be announced closer to the date.

“John Canning will again be the master of ceremonies for the event, again. It will include patrons of the seven north shore libraries: Oyster Bay, Gold Coast, Bayville, Roslyn, Glen Cove, Locust Valley and Sea Cliff.”

Ms. Koch explained that “As we get closer to April more people will use the eBooks. There is a limited number on line. There is one copy, for one person at a time - like a book. But as a group of 50 Nassau County Libraries participating out of a total of 54, we all contribute to the collection online.

“We try to add to those most popular – the bestsellers - to the Digital Doorway,” she said.


Hardcover Books

While the new “wrinkle” is the digital book, some people still prefer a “real book”. As Anton Newspapers proofreader Mary Anne Grabowski of Glen Cove said, “I have a picture of me at age 3, holding a book in my hands. I like a real book.” She talked of the aesthetics of the page, the type, seeing how far along in the reading you are, the book cover art, and even the smell of a book. They all combine to create a tactile and aesthetic experience, as well as adding to  a store of memories on books.

Knowing that is the case, the library also has actual copies of the book available.

Ms. Koch said Oyster Bay will have 10 to 12 copies of Sag Harbor available: two hardcopies and 10 paperbacks. “There is also one audio copy.

“Now it is not too busy a time to download but as we get closer to April we may add more hardcopies if it is very rushed. Some people like to have a real book,” she said.

That was true at the last North Shore Reads event held at the Matinecock Lodge in Oyster Bay. Many people brought their own copies to the event which featured The River of Doubt by  

Candice Millard. Other books read previously in the project are: Aloft by Chang-rae Lee; Wait Till Next Year, a memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin; The Color of Water: a black man’s tribute to his white mother; and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Library Housekeeping

Library goers will notice that there are often books for sale at the library: books that are discarded and available for purchase. Ms. Koch said, “For each book in - we have to take one book out - or we would have to have stacks out on the lawn.”

The discards are determined by seeing if a book hasn’t been taken out during the year. The process is to keep the library in order and to make room for new books by weeding out the collection. “It’s distressing to get rid of books, and to put them up for sale, but we have to do it. They sell for a quarter and are good to take to the beach or vacation and even in the bathtub, she said.”

They are also great to read – slowly – without incurring a fine, and to then give away to others or keep: your choice.

The new books the library has available are chosen by the staff. In Oyster Bay that means Head of Reference and Adult Services Dorothy Moore does the adult book list; and Children’s Services Librarian Barbara Grodin does her list. “They make the lists and come up to me and I approve the choices. We only discuss the titles if there is a question,” said Ms. Koch.

Readers can also get books not carried at their own library from the Nassau County system. They can even get special books from other NYS libraries as well as nationwide, when needed for research.  

Another question regarding the eBooks is, can they be returned early if you want to allow other people to be able to access them. Check the Internet and follow the directions for that process on Adobe Digital editions.

As to the kinds of electronic devices that can be used to download books, Ms. Moore said, “There are tons available including the iPad; and the Android iPhone which is going to get it. You can’t keep them all straight.” The new technology is expanding rapidly.

Ms. Moore is another person who loves a “real book”. She said, “It’s more convenient when you sit down to read a book rather than a machine.”

Her newest recommendation is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. “It’s good for the setting, and sense of place and is a really good story,” she said.   You can trust her judgment.