Some books are out of print but not out of reach

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2016

By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt

Rowan Public Library

In conversation with a patron the other day, I was reminded that the material from one of our great local authors, Christian Reid, is not readily available to read.

While we have most of her works in the History Room, primarily for preservation reasons, these books are not available for check-out. If you want to read them, you have to make a few trips the History Room and read them here.

Is there another way to obtain older books that may be out of print and no longer available in your library? Indeed there are a few ways that Rowan Public Library (RPL) can help you find books that may not be on the shelves at the library.

RPL tries to provide popular fiction and nonfiction books for the patrons of Rowan County. Once a book has gone through its peak readership, it may not circulate much and eventually its place on the shelves at the library is taken by newer, more up-to-date books. However, some readers just discovering an author may want to read each and every book.

Take for instance, Jane Austen, who has enjoyed waves of popularity. One can readily find her books “Pride and Prejudice” or “Emma” on the library shelves, but “Lady Susan” is a bit more difficult. A patron can request this book via an interlibrary loan service. RPL requests this book from another library system, say Davidson College or Durham County Public Library, and one of these libraries may loan the book to RPL and its patron for a month.

If, however, this book is not available through an interlibrary loan, it is possible that it can be found in an electronic format and downloaded. There are two particular websites that provide many books in a digital format both for preservation and access — Project Gutenberg and Internet Archive.

Project Gutenberg began in 1971. Currently they have more than 50,000 items and add about 50 new e-books each week. Although most items are in English and are predominantly literature from Western cultural traditions, they have added cookbooks, reference materials, some music notation and audio files and include works in French, German, Finnish, Dutch, Italian and Portuguese.

The materials can be downloaded in a variety of formats. For instance, I found “Lady Susan” in the Gutenberg collection and downloaded on an iPad using a Kindle app.

Internet Archive has been invaluable in the History Room for out-of-print or not readily available nonfiction works that have aided folks in genealogical research. Internet Archive digitizes volumes itself, but also has partners, including colleges, universities and other repositories all over the world that provide items.

Started in 1996 as the “Way Back Machine” archiving web pages, Internet Archive now includes texts, audio, moving images and software. They also provide specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities. Some of the old Salisbury city directories are on the site. Internet Archive also provides a free digital library for ebooks.

Anyone can sign up for “Open Library” and check out ebooks, including almost all of Christian Reid’s out-of-print books. Check these websites:, and for treasures of the past.

Summer reading: Children 12 months old to rising fifth-graders are invited to participate in On Your Mark, Get Set, READ!! Summer Reading Program at all branches. Programs run through July 28. Cleveland reading program Thursdays, 10 a.m., Cleveland Town Hall, for all age groups.

A reminder that Reading All Stars is only for 1-year-olds; Little Champs is only for 2-year-olds and doors close at 10:40 a.m. for Little Leaguers.

Summer movie series: Headquarters, Tuesdays, starting at 6:30 p.m. Free popcorn and lemonade served. July 6, South Rowan Regional, “The Mighty Ducks,” (PG). July 12, headquarters, “42” (PG13). Depicts the early career of Jackie Robinson as he became the first African-American Major League Baseball player when he was signed to the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Tuesday, July 26, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “The Aviator’s Wife,” by Melanie Benjamin. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7731.

Olympic Readers: rising first- though fifth-graders, July 5-7, Ro & Mo; July 11-14, Life as Art Productions with April Turner.

Get in the Game … READ!: Open to rising sixth- through 12th-graders. All at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, headquarters; Wednesday, East; Thursday, South Regional; July 5-7, Game Show Challenge; July 12-14, Art-thletics.

Adult Summer Reading Program: Exercise Your Mind … READ! Program July 12 at South Rowan Regional.

Displays: All three branches, lunch box collections and more.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.