By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Officials at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system are anticipating Santa might hand out quite a few e-readers and tablets at Christmas this year, so they’ve decided to give Western New Yorkers a hand at directing the jolly man to a device that’s right for them, and teach them how to use said holiday gift to check out e-books.
Beginning in October, the BECPL began offering a series of workshops to help library patrons not only choose the device that works best for them, but also learn how exactly to use the device to check out e-books from the library’s website for free. A couple of these workshops are scheduled to be held at the Kenmore Library in the coming weeks.
Kara Stock, a BECPL librarian who oversees training labs and technology services, said the library had been receiving a lot of questions from patrons about how to use e-readers and which are the most compatible with the library’s e-book lending system.
That, combined with a rapid increase in e-book circulation — 263,716 e-books were checked out between January to October 2012, a 76 percent increase of the roughly 150,000 checkouts for all of 2011 — has led to the creation of Technology Petting Zoo and Open Lab workshops.
The Kenmore Library at 160 Delaware Road will host a so-called petting zoo 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and an open lab 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 8.
Library patrons can try out a variety e-readers during the petting zoo workshop Saturday. Stock said there will be a table featuring five different Barnes and Noble Nook devices, including the new Nook HD; a second table featuring five different Kindle models, including the new Paperwhite and Fire; and a third table with tablets, including the iPad 2 and 3, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and Google Nexus.
“We’re giving them a hands-on opportunity to see the devices, play with them and read some reviews to help them making that decision,” Stock said. “We’re hoping to tie that in with holiday shopping.”
BECPL Chief Operating Officer Carol Batt said the petting zoo is the best way for potential buyers to find out which devices work best with the library’s web-based e-book system and evaluate all options side-by-side.
“We’re not saying this is what you have to buy, but we can show the pros and cons of what works better with our downloads,” she said.
Both Batt and Stock agreed the iPads are the easiest to use and offer a wider variety of options, but the Kindle Fire is also a good option at a more reasonable cost.
About one month later, the Kenmore Library will hold an Open Lab workshop where users can put all their new Christmas goodies to the test as librarians teach them just how to use that new e-reader to check out BECPL e-books.
The Open Labs are “geared for the library patrons who already own a device and were looking at how to borrow e-books from the library for those devices,” Stock said. “It gives us an opportunity to meet with them one-on-one and give them training.”
While both sessions are free, patrons must bring their BECPL library card to the Open Lab session to be able to access the e-book checkout website. And even though that library card is required, an open library is not to put the e-reader to good use.
“It’s available 24/7,” Batt said. “It’s a service that we’re just really pleased to be able to offer and we’re going to continue to support that as the demand increases.”
“I firmly agree that the library needs to offer these e-books. We’re just providing alternative ways for people to read, and we’re seeing people who haven’t read in years because they love having that book on a device,” she added.
IF YOU GO • WHAT: E-reader Technology Petting Zoo • WHEN: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: Kenmore Library, 160 Delaware Road • DETAILS: Test-drive a variety of e-readers and tablets on which library patrons can check out e-books from the library. Free. ••• • WHAT: E-reader Open Lab • WHEN: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 8 • WHERE: Kenmore Library • DETAILS: Library patrons can get one-on-one training on how to use their e-reader or tablet to check out e-books from the library. Free.
Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.