Sshhh ... it's a quiet revolution in libraries

By Natalie Dixon

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Bay residents are embracing new technology, with Tauranga Library staff including Paul Cuming noticing a big jump in the number of people borrowing e-books. Photo / John Borren
Bay residents are embracing new technology, with Tauranga Library staff including Paul Cuming noticing a big jump in the number of people borrowing e-books. Photo / John Borren

DVDs and CDs could soon become a thing of the past at Bay libraries as users embrace newer technology such as digital books.

The amount of e-books issued jumped by 268 per cent in just six months, going from 155 in June 2013 to 1140 in December after Tauranga City Council opted to remove a $2 charge.

In total, 14,823 e-books were issued last year, up 268 per cent. Print issues were down by 2.36 per cent to 16,560 in that period.

Visits to the libraries also declined by 4 per cent, while online visits increased 8 per cent, Tauranga City libraries manager Jill Best said.

Ms Best told the Bay of Plenty Times 155 e-books were added to the libraries' 3000-strong e-book collection last week. This would be increased each month to keep up with demand from users.

She said the library would eventually get rid of "older technology" like CDs and DVDs as they continued to evolve.

"CDs are starting to die, DVDs are starting to die and we will be looking at adopting new technology to replace those."

She said it was not only youngsters embracing the change, but people of all ages.

"We have a great selection of kids e-books and both teen e-books and adult fiction are very popular.

"At the moment it is only a small [percentage] of our total stock; we have around 3000 e-books compared to 300,000 other stock items from print books to DVDs and CDs.

"But we are working to build the collection all the time because people are always asking about e-books," she said.

"They are great when you are travelling, you can download a number of books to read without lugging them around with you. They are easy and convenient and good for people with mobility issues and sight issues - because you can blow up the [type] as large as you need to."

The decrease in physical visits was partly due to the library putting local history online, so people no longer needed to come into the New Zealand room.

"And last year we joined the Kotui consortium, which gives people the ability to search for online professional information not available through Google. Basically they can do it from home, which is often far more convenient."

Mrs Best said as technology evolved it would bring library costs down.

"We will not have to have so much room to shelve collections, and we will not have to chase overdues or put books back on shelves. Less manpower will be needed but that does not mean libraries will die," she said.

"The fact is libraries are places that pool resources so individuals can access collections they would not otherwise be able to afford to. It does not matter if those collections are printed or digital, as long as they are available."

Tauranga Libraries

Tauranga Libraries offer one-on-one tutorials and classroom learning from just $6 for those keen to learn about e-books and other new technology - on digital cameras, tablets, computers and smart phones. For more information on help available phone (07) 577 7177.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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