Librarians are asked all the time whether they think print books will go away, and they always answer with a resounding, ‘No!’ The media loves to portray extremes, but the reality of the situation is that outliers always exist. In this case, there are people out there who only read books electronically, and a far greater number of people who only read printed books. It’s the middle section, of people who read both print and electronic material, which is growing at a steady pace.
The Sierra Vista Public Library is adding to its electronic collection at an ever-growing rate, for a number of different reasons. It’s a very busy library, with anywhere from about 500 – 800 people visiting per day. Printed books still make up the majority of the library’s collection and will continue to do so.
But space on the shelves is a concern, especially when the library stocks printed books in English and Spanish, fiction and nonfiction, large type, audiobooks, DVDs, magazines, CDs and more. That’s a lot of shelf space to share!
Buying electronic material is a way to add to the collection without taking up any physical room. Also, those electronic items never need to be reshelved, repaired, cleaned or checked back in or out by a staff person.
Currently, the library purchases e-books and e-audiobooks, and gives patrons access to electronic magazines through Zinio, a service shared by the Arizona State Library. Soon, the library will also offer free music through a service called Freegal, but the staff is still working out the technological piece, so stay tuned for more information.
In a survey done by the library last fall, patrons identified fiction e-books as the fourth most important service to them out of 18 choices. In many ways, electronic collections are expanding the number of users of the library to a new demographic who might never have stepped foot in the building.
The library will continue to grow both its electronic and physical collections, so never fear that print books will disappear entirely from the shelves. Those who would like to find out more about any of library’s collections are invited to visit the Sierra Vista Public Library, 2600 E. Tacoma St., where the library is open seven days a week, call 458.4225, or go to www.SierraVistaAZ.gov/svlibrary.