“Are you guys really librarians?”
That was a question asked of me and fellow staff member Curtis Hartwell recently. Why, you might ask?
Well, we had just made a presentation that day at the national conference for OverDrive, our digital books provider. I guess the combination of our wearing matching kitty cat T-shirts while introducing a video of us with blue beards was enough to make those in the profession doubt our credentials. Make no mistake, as silly as our methods of promotion are at times, we are serious about promoting literacy in this community.
It was clear that our presentation, which demonstrated how we significantly increased our e-book downloads, had an effect on conference attendees. The consensus was that Bartholomew County Public Library was doing something fun and different to reach out to its patrons. I would almost say that we were perceived as a hip library by those that heard our speech.
In a profession like ours with its bland stereotypes, this is never a bad thing.
The national conference, held in downtown Cleveland, was called Digipalooza. If meeting authors and publishers while learning the latest trends in digital reading and playing with new gadgets is your thing, this is your kind of scene.
There were sessions that took a macro view on the publishing industry as a whole, tips on how to discover less-publicized titles and reaching patrons who have yet to discover the library’s digital books service. The keynote speaker was Jane Green, a best-selling British author who is one of the pioneers of the genre known as “chick lit.”
In addition to discussing the real-life inspiration behind her books, she also recapped the time she made lunch for actor Hugh Grant while writing for Parade magazine. That got quite an envious reaction from the crowd.
With all the technology and numbers and celebrity gossip thrown around, it was apparent that the overarching theme of the conference was connecting people to reading — in any format, any genre, any medium. OverDrive has continued to make things easier to connect by adding online reading formats that require no additional software or downloads — OverDrive Read e-books and OverDrive Listen audiobooks.
Patrons can see a book, check it out with a card number and tap the Read or Listen button and the book is ready to go. Your library subscribes to other online services that quickly connect you to online reading as well, including Zinio online magazines and Hoopla. Hoopla’s site now features a collection of e-books and comic books available for instant checkout.
As much as we would like to think that everyone knows we have e-books to check out, this is not the case. This point was hammered at us again and again at Digipalooza. We do lots of great things to promote these services, but help us out: Tell a bookworm friend or two about our online materials.
Are you a service provider and would like a library staff member to visit and discuss how to download books? Did your entire school receive tablets and you’re looking for educational uses for these devices? Do not hesitate to contact us at the library to see how we can help you get started with our online resources.
And, yes, I am a librarian.
Tyler Munn is reference supervisor at Bartholomew County Public Library. He can be reached at [email protected].