E-books are now available at Plum Creek Library SystemWORTHINGTON — When Julie Wellnitz was hired as the Nobles County Library Director last September, she had a major goal in mind.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — When Julie Wellnitz was hired as the Nobles County Library Director last September, she had a major goal in mind.
She wanted to get electronic books for the library.
A week ago, that goal became a reality.
“It brings us up-to-date,” Wellnitz said from her office at the library. “It adds a new service that has been requested by many of our patrons. We are 100 percent dedicated to what the patrons want. We’re a public-service entity, and that’s what we’re here for.”
The e-book program went live on June 22 and has already been a success on a small scale — with more than 200 checkouts in the first few days.
“We’ve had a lot of comments on how slick the process is,” Wellnitz said. “Several patrons who’ve responded didn’t even have any instructions or anything.”
The e-book program is available throughout the entire Plum Creek Library System’s 25 locations.
While a library card is required to check out a book, patrons don’t have to physically be in the library to find the e-books.
“You can do it from anywhere that has an Internet connection” Wellnitz said. “All you need to do is type in your barcode number and password.”
The service, Overdrive, can be accessed through the library’s website, www.nclibrary.org or www.plumcreeklibrary.org.
From there, it’s as simple as finding a book, adding it to a cart and downloading it to an e-reader. Nearly every e-reader is compatible with the system.
“One of the questions that comes up in conversations about e-books is what are e-books going to do to public libraries?” Wellnitz said. “My answer to that is throughout the history of libraries, with any new technology, we have adjusted and shifted to patron needs. We will continue to adjust and shift to whatever the public demands are.”
The process has been a project of Wellnitz and her colleagues for months.
“I came here, and that was top on my agenda with the e-book program,” she said. “I did some research and I made some phone calls. I directly called Overdrive. I was looking at the program and putting feelers out to area libraries, people I got to know and other directors I thought might be interested. Within the Plum Creek consortium there are 25 libraries, so I started really small just asking questions about it.”
Mark Ranum, the Plum Creek Library director, became involved and started the ball rolling.
“Mark Ranum, in the next few months, ended up negotiating a contract with Overdrive, and all of the directors took that negotiated contract to their library boards for approval,” Wellnitz said. “We had to get approval from every library in the consortium before we could go through with it.”
That approval came through in April, but one question remained: What books were they going to purchase?
“The selection committee, made up of librarians from the consortium, met and decided what titles to purchase,” Wellnitz said. “They broke into sub-committees. For instance, my head librarian, Myra Palmer, was on the children and young adult sub-committee with another librarian, and they chose the young adult and children titles. They were asked to look at popular titles in that particular genre. We wanted the collection to appeal to all ages.”
Currently, the selection is somewhere between 300 and 400 titles. A patron can check out two books at a time, as well as place two holds on books for future reading. Books are selected for a seven- or 14-day period. As the selection grows, Wellnitz expects the number of checkouts to increase.
“Since then, we have gotten donations, so we think the collection is going to grow,” Wellnitz said. “The Nobles County Friends of the Library approved to match a challenge from Jackson County Friends of the Library to donate $900 to enhance the collection.”
Even though library e-books generally cost more, the Plum Creek Library System is hoping to push the total number of titles to 1,000 by the end of the year.
One way to help increase the selection is through the WIN program. Through sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, any purchase made will send a donation to the Plum Creek Library System for new e-books.
“It’s another way patrons can donate to the e-book collection,” Wellnitz said. “When they go to the e-book site, if they scroll down in the left-hand corner, they will see the WIN box. They click on that, and they can purchase items that the listed retailers offer. Ten percent of these purchases go into the collection of e-book titles and directly to Plum Creek.”
Daily Globe Community Content
Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.