published Friday, September 30th, 2011

Cleveland Library embraces digital age, orders more ebooks

By Paul Leach

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CLEVELAND, Tenn.—The Cleveland Bradley County Public Library is willing to put its money, time and effort where its mouth is when it comes to providing a digital hotspot for the community.

The library board voted 7-0 this week to spend $8,000 on electronic books and related digital works that users may access by computers and mobile devices.

"Ebooks are important to the life of the library, but you don't necessarily get money to do it," library director Andrew Hunt said.

Library patrons consistently have downloaded 1,000 digital works a month since December, said Hunt. He said this was a monthly increase of 300 to 400 downloads since the end of last year.

Board Chairwoman Tara Brown said she expects that ebooks one day will be a part of the library's normal operating budget.

In the future, ebooks may help transition reference materials to digital formats that users could access from home, said Hunt. The library already provides access to a number of research databases, and the concept is a familiar one, he said.

The library also offers workshops on how to download works from the Regional Ebooks and Audio Download System to popular mobile devices such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad, Hunt said.

Other computer classes are available as well, technology coordinator David Ingram said. Besides recurring topics such as Microsoft Office and basic computers, Ingram said he plans to host a workshop that addresses Internet safety for children.

The library's computers, which include 80 general stations and 40 lab stations, were used nearly 30,000 times between July and August, according to Hunt.

"The need is tremendous," board treasurer John Hagler said in regard to providing digital information and services to the community.

The library also is working on creating a "more stable connection" for its wireless users, Hunt said.

He also said Ingram likely will make some tweaks to the library's website.

Hagler said he was amazed at how the library had embraced the age of technology and that "the library is moving forward."

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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