WORTHINGTON - The Plum Creek Library System has offered digital services to its patrons for a half dozen years, and while usage started out strong, it has reached a plateau in several of the system’s public libraries.
As a way to generate new and renewed interest in the availability of ebooks and digital audio books, the Nobles County Library, Jackson County Library and Windom Public Library will host a Digital Bookmobile “Toterhome” next week.
Sponsored and operated by Overdrive, a digital media service used by many public and school libraries, the traveling technology truck features interactive stations for people to learn how to access digital library materials on their tablet or smartphone, help in getting set up for e-reading and a gadget gallery. Library staff will join Overdrive eReading experts to assist patrons during the tour stop.
The Toterhome will be parked at the Worthington library from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday; the Jackson library from 1 to 6 p.m. June 7; and the Windom library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8.
Overdrive is one of the main ebook and digital providers of materials for libraries in the Plum Creek Library System (PCLS).
“For years, Plum Creek Library System has tried to promote our e-services,” Nobles County Library Director Clint Wolthuizen said. “This digital bookmobile helps us promote that a little bit more.”
Digital offerings equal less than a third of the number of physical items at the Worthington library, but Wolthuizen said the local library trades off with the Marshall library in terms of highest usage of digital media by patrons. He’s hoping the digital bookmobile visit will lead to increased awareness and enhanced digital reading experiences.
MacKenzie Schley of the Jackson County Library helped coordinate the Toterhome stop in southwest Minnesota. She invited the traveling digital bookmobile to visit some of the libraries in the Plum Creek system to help boost awareness of its digital offerings.
“It’s huge - it’s 42 feet long,” she said of the Toterhome. “There’s no way it could be ignored, and there’s no way you would not know that the library had ebooks and audiobooks after it comes to town.”
With PCLS libraries in rural settings, Schley said not everyone knows about its digital offerings because they aren’t visible on a bookshelf.
“(I said) we would really love if they brought the bookmobile here so we could show everybody how awesome ebooks and audiobooks can be and how easy it is to get them from the library,” she added.
While Schley said some people have resisted e-reading because they worry it will replace physical books, she promotes it as an addition to the reading experience.
“You can read more often because you have the convenience, but it never replaces the physical book,” she said.
Wolthuizen said access to digital media allows greater variety and opportunity for library patrons.
“It allows us to connect with patrons we don’t normally bring through our doors and also (offer) different items that we wouldn’t normally be able to have,” he said.
People of all ages are welcome to visit any of the three area stops on the tour.
“We are promoting it for everybody, whether you have no experience and you want to just see what it’s like, if you have a device and need to get set up, or if you have experience and are having technical snafus, a person is there to help you solve those problems,” Schley said.
The Digital Bookmobile was launched in 2008 in Central Park, N.Y., and travels throughout the U.S. and Canada. Before arriving in Worthington, the Toterhome will be in Alberta, Canada.
There is no cost to the public to visit the Toterhome and get assistance or learn about digital offerings.
Schley said she’s excited to have the Toterhome stop in this area.
“A lot of times they hit really big cities,” she said. “It’s very exciting that they’re hitting our small towns.”
At the Jackson stop, the library will serve cookies and lemonade, have a craft for the children and host a drawing for one of three new tablets to be given away. Two Kindle Fire tablets were donated by the Friends of the Jackson County Library, and a third tablet will be given by Overdrive.