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Bath library lends assistance to e-book users

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Bath library lends assistance to e-book users

BATH — Built in the late 19th century to house a collection of printed books, the Patten Free Library will hold an informational session next week on the 21st century's answer to reading.

The hands-on session on e-books and e-readers will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Originally scheduled for Jan. 16, but cancelled because of bad weather, the presentation is free and will be held in the community room on the second floor of the 33 Summer St. library.

The session, according to a library press release, is geared toward people just starting to use e-readers – including iPads, Amazon Kindles, Barnes & Noble Nooks – who want to know more about the devices and ways to access free reading material. Participants will be shown how to download library e-books to those devices, and they will learn about websites that offer free e-books.

There were 253 e-book checkouts by Patten cardholders last month, compared to 159 the year before, according to Roberta Jordan, an outreach librarian. Adult circulation was 5,361 items during that time.

In the last half of 2012 cardholders checked out 1,353 e-books, compared to 791 during the same time period a year ago. Circulation for that period was about 39,000. Those statistics do not include downloadable audiobooks.

"We know that many patrons were disappointed that the Jan. 16 session had to be cancelled," Jordan said in the release. "Many received e-readers or tablets over the holidays were excited about learning how to find and borrow items from the library's e-book collection. We hope the weather cooperates this time around."

While people borrow print books from the library and face fees for late returns, an e-book downloaded by a library patron simply expires after a week or two, Jordan said in an interview earlier this month.

"You check it out just like you would check out a regular book, only you do the whole thing online," she explained. "And then after 14 days you just can't use the book anymore."

Just like regular books, the library has access to a limited number of copies of each e-book, Jordan said.

"When you buy an e-reader, it's really easy to buy books from the bookseller that sold you the (device)," she noted. "But it's a little less obvious how to borrow from your local library."

The presentation will show people around the Maine Infonet Download Library website, download.maineinfonet.org. A link is also available on the main page of the library's website, patten.lib.me.us.

Those unable to attend the presentation can use the library's "Book a Librarian" service to meet with a librarian for instruction on e-readers or other new technologies, to learn basic skills, or for research assistance.

"Everyone has a different level of comfort with technology, and each type of e-reader has its own particular skill set involved in lending and reading e-books," Jordan said. "We can usually help people avoid a lot of frustration."

Call Jordan at 443-5141, ext. 25, to schedule time with a librarian or ask questions about the Jan. 30 session.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.