Library looking to offer eBook service

The St. Marys Public Library is looking into offering a new eBook and audio book service that would begin in the spring of 2012 pending agreements with surrounding libraries and the securing of funding sources.While many libraries serving large populations currently have the OverDrive program in place, St. Marys Library Director Scarlette Corbin explained that it is a costly venture for smaller libraries, especially since libraries' state funding was substantially decreased for 2011-2012.The Seneca Library District, which St. Marys is a part of and which encompasses a total of 17 libraries in Elk, Cameron, Forest, McKean and Warren counties, met on October 14, at which time participants discussed joining the OverDrive service as a group.Corbin said a minimum of three libraries in the district are needed to sign on in order to make the service cost-efficient.The district is anticipating a decision about the program in December.The cost of the service would be $10,000 for three libraries, of which $5,000 worth of electronic/audio books would be split among them. "The OverDrive service is more affordable if we go as a group," Corbin said.If St. Marys Library were to enroll in the service as a single entity, it could cost $8,000, with the library receiving $4,000 worth of eBooks and/or audio books. This agreement would require the library to sign a four-year contract.The average cost of an eBook through OverDrive is $12 and $38 for an audio book. Corbin said that eBooks are more in demand than audio books and that any eReader, portable device or computer will be able to access the eBooks offered through libraries. Kindle users are directed toward the Amazon website for instructions on how to download library eBooks, while other eReader, portable device and computer users are directed to OverDrive's website for instructions.Upon approval of the service, there would be a link on the library website where members may access the service. There would be no cost to library members to utilize the OverDrive service. The OverDrive service previously cost $20,000, which is why it could only be found in larger areas, Corbin said. OverDrive, based in Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 1986 and is a full-service distributor of eBooks, audiobooks and other digital content which is delivered to libraries, schools, publishers and retailers. It currently hosts more than 650,000 premium digital titles from over 1,000 publishers. More than 15,000 libraries, schools and colleges worldwide utilize the company's digital distribution.