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Libraries offer patrons e-books

To keep up with technology and demand from patrons, two of the county’s three public libraries offer electronic books.

Known as e-books, the products are usually intended to be read on dedicated e-book readers; however, almost any sophisticated electronic device that features a controllable viewing screen, including computers, many mobile phones, and nearly all smartphones, can also be used to read e-books.

Courtney Smart logs onto the CamelliaNet system at the Opp Library.

Courtney Smart logs onto the CamelliaNet system at the Opp Library.

Locally, libraries in Opp and Florala offer e-book services through CamelliaNet, the same service that 100 other libraries across the state use for e-book services. A user-friendly site, step-by-step instructions are given for each platform used.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a Kindle, a computer or a phone, you can read an e-book,” said Gail Clare, Opp Library director. “This is a fabulous service to offer our patrons, and they really enjoy it. It’s becoming one of the biggest services we provide here. Each week, we get another two or three new users to join.”

A library card in good standing is required to use the program in both Florala and Opp, the librarians said. The service is free to use, as well.

If the desired title isn’t available, the patron can add it to a “wish list.” An email notification is sent when the title is available for checkout.

Judy Petrey in Florala said, “For us, we have a lot of people who were not accessing the library at all. This helps with that. One of the biggest benefits for us is that children in school can access their recommended reading for the summer, the accelerated reading list, and they have no excuse for not doing their summer reading.”

Both Clare and Petrey said the program offers a benefit patrons don’t see – increased circulation numbers.

“We get to count those books that are checked out through the system as part of our circulation number, and that is the number that is used to help us get grants and other monies,” Clare said.

Andalusia Public Library director Karin Taylor said the library website is still under construction and she hopes to compile a listing of all free e-book sites.

“I want to do what we can to get the best bang for our buck,” Taylor said. “There are so many free options out there that if we participate in (CamelliaNet) it would be a duplication of services.”