The Library Enters the 21 Century

I did something that I hadn’t done in a very long time last week. I paid a visit to my local library.

Hit hard by the digital age it seems that they are fighting back and to see that for myself I needed to update my library card with my email address and a pin code.

It seems that libraries are refusing to take the advent of the ebook sitting down and are now lending ebooks just like they do the physical variety. Not only that you can borrow audio books and a wide selection of popular magazines too.

Once you have updated your card you can login on the library website and browse the selection of books on offer. Like any library the selection is limited, about 1,500 in my borough’s case and if someone else already has “borrowed” it then you can go on a waiting list just like with the physical counterpart. You checkout the book that you want and then download it where, using Adobe Digital Editions software, you can then either read on your desktop or on a variety of mobile devices and ereaders. However, the one exception to this is that you cannot upload the ebook to the reader that most people own – the Kindle due to the digital rights management employed.

The limited selection of books means that the latest blockbusters aren’t likely to be there and I found from my casual searching that some books in a series will be there but not all and not necessarily the first in the series which I found a bit odd. This service is therefore most likely to appeal to the casual reader who is just dipping their toe into the ebook reader waters and is less fussy about what they read.

Unlike the ebooks the magazine selection was first rate with many well known titles including Cosmopolitan, Practical Photography, Computer Shopper and The Economist. Surprisingly there didn’t seem to be any restriction on the number of magazines that you could download. You view the mags through the Zinio reader which is available on multiple platforms. Given that some magazine annual subscriptions can be well over £50 you could easily save quite a bit providing you can handle reading a magazine on a tablet.

Given that this is a “free” service (or at least one that is included in my council tax) it seems pretty good to me and something that it will continue to make use of.