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Library offers mobile app, e-readers

The Naperville Public Library is giving patrons new ways to access its materials around the clock.

The library recently rolled out a mobile app and now lets residents check out e-readers as well.

“In the past 10 years we’ve seen desktop PCs to laptop PCs to tablets to incredible computing power on people’s phones,” Executive Director John Spears said. “People are really expecting 24-7 access to the library.”

Spears said people also like to do more for themselves and can do so with the new mobile app, which can be used to check out materials, place items on hold, pay fines, search the catalog, ask questions of librarians and more.

“It’s like putting the library in their pocket,” said Frances Tong, information technology manager.

For example, she said residents can be on the go and still watch for the library’s list of top reads, then quickly place a hold on them.

Readers browsing at a bookstore can even scan a book’s bar code and see if the Naperville Public Library has it available.

The library also has started letting patrons not only check out e-readers, through a partnership with the downtown Naperville Barnes & Noble.

Thirty Nook Simple Touch e-readers and six Nook tablets are available and come pre-loaded with about 10 to 20 books each, which are grouped by genre and age level.

“It’s mainly so people can have an easier, gentler exposure to e-readers and decide if they want to get one,” said Karen Toonen, adult services librarian.

Patrons can check out a Nook for three weeks. There are no deposits to pay, but fines will be assessed if pieces are broken or missing or if the Nook isn’t returned on time. Library staff also asks that those checking out e-readers do not return them via the book drop.

While the Nooks currently are pre-loaded, Spears said he hopes the library will eventually be able to load books for patrons by request. The library already offers a collection of e-books patrons can check out on their own e-readers.

While there were up-front costs for the Nooks, he said the price for electronic books is less than that of print copies and there also will be cost savings like shipping as well as staff time to locate, order and shelve materials.

For more information about the mobile app and e-readers, visit http://www.naperville-lib.org/.

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