More local library patrons are “borrowing” books without having to step outside, thanks to a free application being used by the Washington County Free Library.
The Washington County Free Library, through Maryland’s Digital eLibrary, offers the “OverDrive” app with which users can download the latest e-books and audio books.
Launched in 2010, the app has increased in popularity as more people download e-books.
“In January 2011, there were 1,700 e-books checked out compared to 2,400 in 2012,” said Liz Jones, reference librarian for the Washington County Free Library. “Generally the trend has shown in the past 12 months that download numbers have more than doubled.”
“Tablets and e-book readers have decreased in price in the last year and I think that has encouraged people to embrace the technology,” she said. “The app allows residents in Washington County to download books 24/7. Residents no longer have to wait for the library to open.”
Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of Washington County Public Schools, said such an application is important “because a 21st century library must be where the readers are. If they are in school, in a coffee shop, or even sitting in their car, readers want access and few ‘real’ readers want to be tethered to a place.”
“I have been using the app for several months,” said Jake Powers, of Boonsboro. “All you need is a Washington County library card to access books after the app has been downloaded.”
Natalie Snyder, of Hagerstown, said that, “As a student I can’t always afford to buy books. ‘OverDrive’ allows me to electronically borrow books from the library. It’s very simple and easy to use, you can search for titles and authors.”
Jones said there are no more late fees with the app.
“You can select a time frame for the rental of the e- book,” she said. “As the book nears the rental expiration there are reminders. When the book expires and is no longer on loan it simply disappears from the e-reader. No more late fees.”
One drawback to the OverDrive app is that not all publishers are selling their titles to libraries.
“Not all the latest titles are available as there are some publishers who will not sell their publications to libraries, but we compensate for that by purchasing extra hard copies,” Jones said.
The library offers online tutorials on how to download the app.
There also is a free app that enables library members to download music.
“In addition to the e-book app there is a free music app called ‘Freegal’ that allows users to download music free and, unlike other music apps, the music does not expire,” Jones said. “Many of the artists featured on the recent Grammy awards are available for download as are most of the artists on the Sony record label.”
“The economy has led people to look for alternative free entertainment and that is where our apps are proving to be successful,” Jones said.
More information on the free apps that are available from the Washington County Free Library can be found at www.washcolibrary.org