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Library takes up ebook challenge

Patrons asked to help increase use by 25 per cent

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 06:00 am

ECONTEST – The St. Albert Public Library is launching a month-long contest in June aimed at making people more aware of its ebook catalogue.
ECONTEST – The St. Albert Public Library is launching a month-long contest in June aimed at making people more aware of its ebook catalogue.
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The library has a sizable collection of electronic books and it wants to make more people aware of the collection. It’s participating in a month-long contest in June as a way of making ebooks and e-audiobooks more popular than they have ever been.

Public services manager Heather Dolman said that Make Room in June for eBooks is going to be held in conjunction with the OverDrive Challenge. The challenge isn’t just a way of promoting the device-driven products. It could also earn the library a financial boost to acquire more titles.

“The St. Albert Public Library has always been an early adopter of new formats and has an extensive digital collection, from online resources to downloadable music and movies.”

The library first started offering titles in ebook format almost four years ago. They are digital copies of many popular adult fiction titles that can be downloaded to a computer or portable reader like Kobo or Kindle. Back in July 2010, there were only around 140 titles.

Now, Dolman says that there are almost 7,500 ebooks and e-audiobooks in the main ebook platform, which is powered by OverDrive, the service that facilitates these products to be accessed on various electronic devices.

The library cited information from the Pew Research Centre, a non-partisan “fact tank” based out of Washington, D.C., that shows that the percentage of Americans who have read an ebook in the past year has risen to 28 per cent, up 5 per cent from the previous year. The study also notes that half of American adults now own a tablet or e-reader.

The discrepancy is that, while the majority of libraries now offer ebooks, only about 12 per cent of people have borrowed one from their library.

OverDrive has started this challenge to change that. Any library that participates can earn credits towards more ebooks if they manage to increase checkouts by at least 25 per cent in June.

Kirsten Ng is the St. Albert Public Library’s new digital services librarian. She said that there is an average of 4,000 downloads of OverDrive’s ebooks each month, with this January hitting the high mark at 4,443 checkouts.

“We’re hoping to beat that month.”

She said that they want all patrons to help out by accessing more ebooks to help them reach 5,555 downloads in June.

Ng added that even if that goal is not reached, at least more people would know about the service, which would still fulfil the library’s mandate of promoting reading.

“We just want to raise awareness of ebooks. A lot of people own mobile devices but they buy the ebooks because they don’t really know that the library has them.”

Ebooks are available for free with the library membership. People don’t need an eReader as titles can be downloaded to computers, laptops and other mobile devices.

Dolman said that this June promotion would just be the beginning of getting the word out.

“Our campaign Make Room in June for eBooks is the start of what will be an ongoing drive to make sure that St. Albertans understand there are alternatives to buying ebooks. We are constantly working to ensure people know what’s available, but there is always more we can do so that everyone fully understands what their library membership entitles them to.”

To help patrons and the public to become more familiar with ebooks and e-audiobooks, the library offers regular classes on how to download and enjoy them. The next session takes place on Wednesday, June 11 at 7 p.m. Anyone who wants to sign up for the class should call the adult services desk at 780-459-1682.

The library’s ebooks are available at or by clicking on the ebooks & e-audiobooks link on the left side of the library’s homepage at


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