The South Coastal Library is growing their digital offerings to patrons, proving it’s no longer your father’s (or mother’s) library.
“The library is responding to an evolving technological community,” explained Priscilla Scott, circulation supervisor and volunteer coordinator for the library. “People are using electronic devices more and more, and we’re trying to provide opportunities for people to have access to books or movies in a variety of different formats.”
One device available for checkout by adults, teens and children is the Playaway, a self-contained audio book no bigger than a deck of cards.
“The Playaway are one of my all-time favorites. This little Playaway has an entire book on it. On one side is a title of the book and a graphic, and on the other side are several different controls to play, fast forward, stop or bookmark. You have the entire book in this small device. It’s so small that it could be put in a man’s pocket in his shirt, in a lady’s pocket.”
Scott said the Playaway is so portable that it can be used while performing tasks around the house.
“I have listened to books during a Playaway, and I’m listening so intently that I don’t realize how much time is going by, whether I’m doing yard work or chores around the house. All of a sudden, I’ll look at the clock and say, ‘Oh, my goodness!’ because I’m so into the book.”
For children, the library also offers Playaway Views, which are small portable video players with preloaded media on them.
“They have a small screen, about 3 by 4 [inches], and it has on either side the controls to turn it on, advance one of the movies, to manage your volume. They’re just really, really cute,” she explained. “They’re very popular. Many times, people have purchased a DVD player to have in the actual automobile. For those people who don’t, they can check out these Playaway Views and use them as a substitute.”
Scott noted that the Playaways may only be checked out for one week and cannot be immediately renewed for more time.
“They must be returned to South Coastal Library, because no other library that we are aware of offers them to their patrons.”
She noted that the library’s Playaway collection will continue to grow because of how well the devices have been received.
If the library doesn’t have a book title that library patrons are interested in available on Playaway, Scott suggests using the library’s MP3/CD collection.
“They have an entire book on one CD you can put into your player in your car. So if you’re going on a trip, you can put the one CD/MP3 into your car and you don’t have to change discs,” she explained. “People who frequently take out CD books are now taking out these other items they really like, because you only have to deal with one disc, rather than multiple discs.”
Scott added that the library has a number of MP3 players available for checkout for three weeks, for adults, teens and children.
“You can download a book onto your computer and then transfer it over to the MP3 player, and they can be checked out for three weeks. If you don’t have one and you want to listen to a book, you go through the same process of downloading an eAudio book and you can put it onto the player you’ve rented or leased from the library.”
For those who already have an MP3 player, or a digital reader, Scott said that library patrons may download eAudio and e-books for free using their library card.
“The offerings are growing in our collection because that’s what the population is interested in. They can put them on their Nook or Kindle or Sony, and then they can go on their trip and read their book,” she said. “People still want to come in here and hold a book in their hands, but they also want to have the opportunity to have a device and take it on a trip with them.”
The library also offers free WiFi to patrons who bring their own portable devices.
“We have WiFi in the library. If people come in from out of town or are on vacation and they don’t want to purchase a 30-day library card to use our computers, they can bring their laptops and they can sit anywhere in the library and get online with their computer.”
The library also offers Internet genealogy classes and even iPad and Kindle discussion groups.
“People who use those devices come together and talk about things they’ve either discovered, or people who are experienced can share information with those who aren’t as experienced. They’ve been very well-received so far. You can always learn by listening to people who have a little more experience in certain areas.”
The library staff is encouraging patrons to visit South Coastal Library during National Library Week, April 14 to 20, to check out the growing collection and learn more about the services it provides.
“On a first-come, first-served basis, those who come will receive a little gift from the library. People should take some time to come over here and let us show them what we have. It’s really terrific,” she said. “We’re trying to offer as many things as we can digitally that are out there for our patrons to use. We look forward to having more patrons come in so we can show them what we have.”
The South Coastal Library is located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach. For more information, call (302) 539-5231 or visit www.southcoastal.lib.de.us.