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Hot Off the Shelf

Library patrons line up to check out Kindles and Nooks

Packing your books for your vacation adds pounds to your baggage and with airline fees, stress on your budget.
    What would you say if you could pack more than 1,000 books in a container smaller than even today’s phone books?
    Wannabe eReaders in Anne Arundel County said Yes, Please!
    By noon on the first day of issue, Nov. 2, Anne Arundel library’s 200 portable readers had been checked out by eager patrons.
    One of them, Jacqueline Matthews, showed up at the library’s Annapolis branch two hours early to ensure that she’d be one of the library’s lucky first eReaders.
    A brand-new color Nook loaded with 10 books is hers for three weeks. Then it’s back to the library and the next reader, likely one already on the reserve list.
    Matthews and 199 others joined their neighbors in Calvert and Howard counties in being able to check out eReaders from their county libraries.
    “Our increasing demand for books in all formats speaks to the continued importance of libraries,” said Anne Arundel Library Director Skip Auld of the library’s newest service.

Keeping Up with the Times

    Calvert Library pioneered lending eReaders for similar reasons.
    “When people have questions about books, they think of the library, even when the books are eBooks,” says Library Director Patricia Hofmann. “For the last year or so, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about which eReader is best and how to use their eReader to check out library eBooks.”

Jacqueline Matthews was one of the first to check out a color Nook loaded with 10 books from the Annapolis library.

    Calvert’s 72 eReaders, on loan since July 21, were purchased with a Maryland Library Development grant. Anne Arundel’s Library Foundation contributed $50,000 to buy its 200 eReaders, to which the library added $20,000 to buy the books. The Rotary Club of Annapolis has committed the proceeds from next spring’s Black Tie and Diamonds gala to Anne Arundel’s goal of lending 1,000 eReaders.
    In both systems, the 8-by-5-by-3⁄4-inch eReaders come fully loaded, charged and ready to read.
    In Anne Arundel the eReaders are loaded with up to 30 bestsellers, depending on the model reader, with quite a range. For example:
    Nook Color ranges from the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook to Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder;
    Nook ranges from Tom Clancy’s Against All Enemies to Kathryn Stockett’s The Help;
    Kindle ranges from Alexander McCall Smith’s Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party to Manning Marable’s Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, to Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
    Anne Arundel loads only children’s books on Nook Color. President Obama’s Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters is one of the couple of children’s books on these eReaders. The president reads the book, and you can follow on the fully illustrated pages.
    Calvert loads six Nook Colors with picture eBooks for younger children, six with chapter boks for pre-teens and six more for teens.
    “Teen Nook Color has EVERYTHING I want to read on it!” a teen reader told Beverly Izzi, Calvert’s youth service coordinator for the Calvert Library. The girl made her mother take her from one Calvert Library to another so she could keep checking out the teen reader.
    Calvert packages Nook Colors and Kindles thematically for adults: Spare Time, Great Outdoors, Around the World, Best Sellers, Mysteries and African American, with six eReaders devoted to each category.
    Around the World holds 86 titles with travel guides from Fodor’s, Frommer’a and Rough Guide. Thirteen of the books teach you French, Italian and Spanish with audio as well as visual.
    Fiction titles include Eat Pray Love; Dracula; Pride and Prejudice; and Little Women.
    Calvert’s 18 Kindles are loaded with bestsellers, for adults.
    For many eReaders, the library checkout is a first, so reference and checkout librarians in each branch have trained and practiced to show how the devices work.

So Easy a 100-Year-Old Can Do It

    Even so, using the devices fluently takes some practice — especially since each has unique features and works differently.
    Nook Color, for example, is controlled by a touch screen, while Nook has no touch screen and is operated with a directional pad that’s small for big fingers. Both are backlit and easy to read in the dark.

100-year-old Emma Bojanowski has enjoyed the Nook Color her son borrowed from the library so much that he hasn’t gotten his hands on it.

    Kindle is button-operated and uses eInk rather than backlighting. It’s not good for reading in the dark. But, with no glare, it’s great for reading outdoors.
    “I read the first book backwards because it was left on the last page and I didn’t know how to get to the beginning,” says Sandy Bell of Governor’s Run, an early Calvert eReader patron.
    Three months in, Calvert’s eReaders “are always in circulation,” says Library Director Hofmann. “We have circulated them over 500 times in about three months.”
    Like all library loans, the eReaders fall into all sorts of hands.
    But the circulating eReaders open the door on all kinds of wonders. One of Anne Arundel’s first Nook Color readers was 100-year-old Name of Glen Burnie.
    “I managed to snag a Nook Color,” reports George Bojanowski. “I really had planned that I would use it, but I thought I would let Mom take a look and try it.
    “I had picked up a hard-bound copy of Janet Evanovich’s Smoking Seventeen the other day for her,” Bojanowski recounted. “She was about 43 pages into the hard-bound version. Once I got to that page on the Nook, she was off and running. She said that the hard-bound was bulky and she liked the Nook much better. I’m going to have to pry it away from her.”

Learn to use eReaders Thursday, Nov. 17 at Annapolis Library. Drop in between 6:30 and 8pm. rsvp: 410-222-1750.