Johnston County libraries now offer ebooks

pseligson@newsobserver.comMay 23, 2014 

Johnston County libraries are offering ebooks for the first time.

To check out an ebook, a patron simply has to download a free app. The collection so far is just 223 books, but the county’s libraries hope to increase that number in the year ahead.

“People have been asking for ebooks for the past five years,” said Margaret Marshall, director of the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield. “It’s always been an expensive proposition to get into. It’s still an expensive proposition to get into, but it’s at the point where we really just have to do this.”

To download an ebook, a patron needs a Johnston County library card in good standing. That means no late fees or overdue books. Downloading an ebook is free.

The ebooks are available for Apple and Android phones and tablets, Nook Tablets, Kindle Fires and Windows and Mac computers. Go to jocolib.org to find a link, or just search for “3M Cloud Library” on an app store.

The app is free and can be downloaded to more than once device. All the app needs is your first and last name, which library you go to and your library card number.

Then search and find an ebook to check out. Once it’s checked out, it will automatically check itself back in after three weeks. If you finish earlier, Marshall would like for you to return the book then. That way other patrons can check it out.

Patrons can check out up to three ebooks at once, Marshall said. Ebooks don’t have late fees because they check themselves back in.

To learn more about how to use ebooks, ask a librarian. They will be able to set up the app and explain how to download an ebook.

It’s not cheap

To launch the county’s ebook program, only the Smithfield library had money for the vendor, M3, and for the first set of books. The library had money leftover from last year.

Access to the 3M ebook system costs $5,000 a year, Marshall said. The books themselves cost anywhere from from $6 to $90, and many books have to be bought again each year.

That’s because publishers set up buying their ebooks in different ways. For some publishers, buying an ebook means the library has bought access to that book forever, even if the library changes ebook vendors. With other publishers, the library can only buy access to an ebook for a year or buy about 30 checkouts for an ebook, which then disappears from the collection.

The libraries plan to share the costs in the future, which will let them bulk up the ebook collection, Marshall said.

Marshall said she is excited to finally be able to offer ebooks. “We’re just hoping that they will continue reading,” she said. “I don’t care whether they’re reading a book, a comic book, if they’re listening to an audio book. Any format that is in existence now and will be in existence in the future, as long as you’re reading, that’s what we want to see people do.”

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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