This story from the NYT on how libraries are beginning to offer ebooks caught my eye for several reasons. As a former library board member, it was clear that even ten years ago the changing nature of literacy and changes in media were going to challenge libraries to diversify their holdings. Also, of late I’m looking into ebooks, though I am still trying to determine if I want to go the Amazon Kindle route or the Sony ebook reader route. Depends on what’s available for either platform, but either way, if I can borrow ebooks from my library, then it doesn’t matter what the holdings are in my small town library and that’s a big plus. MP+

Here’s the article from the NY Times:

Libraries and Readers Wade Into Digital Lending

Published: October 14, 2009

Kate Lambert recalls using her library card just once or twice throughout her childhood. Now, she uses it several times a month.

The lure? Electronic books she can download to her laptop. Beginning earlier this year, Ms. Lambert, a 19-year-old community college student in New Port Richey, Fla., borrowed volumes in the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series, “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold and a vampire novel by Laurell K. Hamilton, without ever visiting an actual branch.

“I can just go online and type my library card number in and look through all the books that they have,” said Ms. Lambert, who usually downloads from the comfort of her bedroom. And, she added, “It’s all for free.”

Eager to attract digitally savvy patrons and capitalize on the growing popularity of electronic readers, public libraries across the country are expanding collections of books that reside on servers rather than shelves.

The idea is to capture borrowers who might not otherwise use the library, as well as to give existing customers the opportunity to try new formats.

“People still think of libraries as old dusty books on shelves, and it’s a perception we’re always trying to fight,” said Michael Colford, director of information technology at the Boston Public Library. “If we don’t provide this material for them, they are just going to stop using the library altogether.”

Read the whole article here.