FAIRFIELD — Fairfield resident Theresa Huzel likes reading ebooks on her Nook when traveling and also likes curling up in a chair with a print book.
People can check out both types from the Solano County Library system. On Saturday, the Fairfield Civic Center Library hosted the Digital Bookmobile in its parking lot to publicize the library system’s collection of ebooks and eAudiobooks.
Huzel, a fifth-grade teacher at Nelda Mundy Elementary School, stopped by to learn how to use the library’s digital collection on her Nook. She will do her part to spread the word that the collection exists.
“I’m going to tell my students about this, too,” she said.
The Solano County Library system since 2011 has offered an ebook and eAudiobook collection in collaboration with OverDrive, a digital distributor that works with libraries, schools, publishers and retailers. OverDrive sends its Digital Bookmobile across the nation.
There are no books inside the Digital Bookmobile, but rather computers and displays. This is a place where people unfamiliar with the digital library world come to learn how to use it.
“We are here to make people aware you can download ebooks and audiobooks from your local library for free,” said Diana Lehotsky of OverDrive on Saturday during the Fairfield stop. “You just need a library card.”
Library patrons can look through the digital book collection catalogue from home using the Solano County Library website. They can download the ebooks and eAudiobooks on tablets, laptops, computers, Kindles, Nooks and other devices without ever going to the library building.
“The libraries choose what content they want and they purchase it through us,” Lehotsky said.
Solano County Library offers about 2,000 newer titles as ebooks. The rules work much as with printed books. The library has a limited number of each title. Patrons check them out for limited periods, at which point the downloads end and they are “returned” for other patrons to use.
The library system also offers as ebooks 15,000 classics that are in the public domain and can be downloaded at any time without time limits.
“Theoretically, you never have to come to a library again,” Lehotsky said. “But it’s so fun to come to a library, particularly with little ones.”
The Digital Bookmobile came to the Fairfield Civic Center Library at 11 a.m. By 1:30 p.m., about 30 people had visited. Some, such as Huzel, wanted help figuring out how to use the digital system.
Audrey Crist of Fairfield stopped by at the urging of library employees. She likes using audiobooks and is getting ready to take a trip to the East Coast. She’s also getting ready to buy an iPad.
So Crist is interested in the digital eAudiobook collection. But she doesn’t plan to stop going to the library and called talking to the library staff “a treat.”
Lehotsky doesn’t see ebooks as putting an end to print books.
“Kind of, in addition to,” she said. “I myself, I do still like the paperback books. But when I’m traveling, it’s good to have a digital copy.”
Solano County Library has to figure all of this out. It must decide how much of its budget to spend on print books and audiobooks and how much to spend on the digital versions.
Mike Perkins, children’s librarian at the Suisun City Library, said the library system’s print book collection is much bigger than its ebook collection. For now, the ebook collection focuses on the classics in public domain and on new titles and bestsellers.
Go to http://solanolibrary.com to learn more about the Solano County Library ebook and eAudiobook collection.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.