Reading is (Now) Fundamentally Digital

GUEST COLUMN

By John E. Paul

The resolution to read more has been among the many resolutions people have made since they resigned themselves to staying-at-home orders.

This resolution fits well with other rewarding pursuits such as learning to bake sourdough bread, cleaning out closets and getting more exercise. A challenge to reading more, however, is that our library is currently closed for physical visits and checking out books and materials.

Purchasing e-books has been an option for a number of years but it can be expensive. Moreover, the personal accumulation of e-books, which you may not read again and are difficult to share, just doesn’t seem like the best approach.

As a solution, the Chapel Hill Public Library (https://chapelhillpubliclibrary.org), as well as other libraries in the area, have terrific online offerings of e-books, audio books and other electronic resources.

Through a user-friendly application called “Libby,” library patrons can access and check out thousands of e-books and other material, which can be downloaded for up to three weeks on their e-readers, tablets and smartphones. Libby, an application by OverDrive, Inc., is compatible with most devices and easy to install from the various app stores.

I had been vaguely familiar before with this library offering, but it was our 9-year-old granddaughter that recently got me really intrigued. After receiving a Kindle for her birthday, our granddaughter has jumped into the e-book world using Libby, and is now actively accessing and
reading books from the library.

It is helpful to note that all Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools students automatically have a public library card and access to Libby through their school ID number, making it easy for online summer reading!

The Chapel Hill Public Library reports that they have seen a significant surge of interest in their online resources, including e-books, since mid-March when we all began staying home. There have been calls from both first-time as well as more experienced users, and the user
experience staff consultants will do whatever it takes to get library patrons up to speed accessing the extensive world of digital content that they have available.

We all want to get back to our public library, and the human interactions, extensive services and warm environment that it offers. However, it is unknown when this will be possible. In the meantime, we have to rely on creative adaptations to the pandemic restrictions. One
of these will be online library visits through our (now) very good friend Libby.

This development may be what we will look back on as one of the good outcomes to the wrenching changes we are all currently experiencing.

Read on!

John E. Paul is a resident of Chapel Hill

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