VINCENNES — Early next year, no matter where they are in the world, as long as they have access to the Internet patrons of the Knox County Public Library will be able to “check out” e-books.
Library board members on Tuesday approved a contract with Cleveland-based Overdrive to provide patrons with digital books by the end of January, 2012.
Assistant director Steve Smith arranged for a remote presentation by Overdrive representatives to give board members a picture of what the service will look like.
The service will allow a library patron to download a title onto one of many supported devices such as an Amazon Kindle, an Apple iPad, a smart phone or a regular computer for a limited amount of time, just as if they were checking out a hard-back book.
Patrons can choose for how long they would like to keep a title, from seven to 21 days.
Library director Emily Bunyan said patrons will be able to “check out” three or four e-book titles at a time, initially, but that number may be expanded, depending on demand from the public.
Adding more e-book titles is something that library officials say patrons have been demanding; they are increasingly asking that more e-book titles be added to the library’s catalog.
Smith estimates that 80 percent of libraries around the country already have e-books added to their catalogs and an increasing number of them are making plans to get them.
The contract with Overdrive, at $8,000 a year, will initially give the library access to about 4,500 book titles. But Smith said that number will increase as the library adds more titles to its catalog for $10-12 per copy.
And, he said, there will be several copies available of best-sellers, just as with the physical versions kept by the library.
To get enrolled in the service, library patrons must sign up in person at the main library, but once that’s done they can access the catalog anywhere there is access to an Internet connection.
The money allocated out of the library’s budget to purchasing more e-book titles will be directly correlated to what percentage of the library’s overall demand for titles they represent.
If 50 percent of the demand is for e-books, then 50 percent of the budget for purchasing new titles will be directed there, said Smith, who directs the library’s catalog acquisitions.
Audio books will also be available through the Overdrive service. Though the library already offers audio books, e-audio versions will be available with Overdrive comes online.