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Library helps patrons get tech-savvy

From left, Marysville Library Reference Librarian Mark Burnett answers questions from patrons Michael and Penny Dorsey about how they can check out e-books on their respective Kindles. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Marysville Library Reference Librarian Mark Burnett answers questions from patrons Michael and Penny Dorsey about how they can check out e-books on their respective Kindles.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — At ages 50 and older, they don’t fit the typical target market for Kindles,  Nooks and other “e-book” readers, but almost all of them are regular patrons of the Marysville Library, so on Friday, Jan. 11, Mark Burnett helped them learn how they could take advantage of a few of the library’s online and electronic resources.

“The largest classes are usually in January because that’s when most folks have just gotten their devices as gifts,” said Burnett, reference librarian for the Marysville Library. “Actually, the two main categories of attendees for these types of classes are those who want to know how to make their devices work with the library, and those who haven’t yet bought such devices, but are exploring how they could work with the library’s services.”

Burnett offers step-by-step, and in some cases even hands-on, instructions on how to look up and check out e-books from the Marysville Library, in various formats and on assorted devices.

“With the number of e-books that are already out there, this really is the wave of the future,” Burnett said. “The people I see in these classes are usually excited and fearful all at once, so I provide them with tips and encouragement to help them get over their apprehension, which is to be expected. After all, everyone knows how to open a book, but with an e-book, you have to turn the device on, get the proper software, then go through the procedure of checking it out online.”

“This has been amazingly helpful,” said Mike Rainwater, a white-haired gentleman who recently acquired a Nook. “Having this new way to access books is just great. I’m becoming a fan of reading books ‘on the cloud.’”

While Rainwater touted how e-readers can actually make reading text easier for older library patrons, Marysville Library Managing Librarian Eric Spencer deemed classes such as Burnett’s to be part of a multi-pronged approach to help library patrons make better use of online resources that they might not even be aware of.

“We’ve got e-books, downloadable audio and streaming magazines from Zinio, which is a game-changer,” Spencer said. “A lot of these people have devices that they’re paying to use, but a lot of those same titles and resources are available from their local public library.”

Both drop-in and “Book a Librarian” programs are available at the Marysville Library for staff to assist patrons in setting up user accounts and become familiar with the features.

“Some people need one-on-one appointments to learn how to do research or hunt for jobs,” Spencer said. “Others, like the people in Burnett’s classes, receive in-depth group instruction on the devices themselves.”

The Marysville Library will soon have devices of its own to lend to patrons who don’t have Kindles or Nooks, but who want to utilize the library’s currently limited computer lab.

“We don’t really have the physical space to expand beyond our 32 PCs, so in addition to the four laptops that we’ll be checking out for use within the library, we hope to receive between six to 10 tablets by around this spring,” Spencer said. “It doesn’t require more tables or chairs, and it lets the patrons take the information with them as they wander through the library.”

One reason why space is an increasingly finite resource at the Marysville Library is because its usage by the community keeps going up.

“In 2011, we checked out 888,980 items,” Spencer said. “In 2012, that number was 1,032,997. It was the first time we broke the million mark. Considering that the Sno-Isle Libraries as a whole checked out nearly 9 million items, that’s a large part of their volume. People have this fear that library use is decreasing, but that’s simply not happening.”

For more information, log onto www.sno-isle.org/explore/ereaders.

 

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