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Library’s digital lending is in OverDrive

SALISBURY— Checking out a good book, movie or audiobook just got a whole lot easier thanks to an innovative digital platform called OverDrive that’s taking off at lightning speed with Rowan Public Library patrons.

In an effort to draw awareness to the library’s extensive digital collection, Edward Hirst, technical services librarian, along with Melissa Oleen, deputy director, presented an interactive tutorial about digital lending using OverDrive, a free online service, at Monday’s meeting of the Rowan County commissioners.

Patrons can borrow digital content using an electronic device such as a smartphone, iPad, laptop or e-reader.

Any library user with a valid library card can borrow from the digital collection, which includes a wide variety of e-books, downloadable audiobooks, periodicals, movies and magazines from 23 participating public libraries across the state.

Hirst said the Rowan library started offering access to audiobooks — the only format available at the time through OverDrive — in 2006.

“In the first year, we checked out 321 items through Rowan,” Hirst said.

In 2018, that number jumped to more than 51,000.

Downloading and set-up of “Libby” — the name given to the OverDrive app available online and hailed as a “one-tap reading app” for libraries — takes less than five minutes, giving patrons instant access to more than 35,000 items, including fiction and nonfiction in a variety of genres, from current bestsellers to children’s titles.

All titles automatically expire at the end of the lending period. There are no late fees.

Hirst said in a phone interview that e-books are the most popular format used by Rowan patrons of OverDrive, followed by audiobooks, movies and magazines.

“Audiobooks are great for travel because you don’t have to carry a lot of books with you on your trip,” he said.

According to a statement on OverDrive’s website, audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry that offers the convenience of listening on the go. A streaming video lending service, which OverDrive launched in 2013, is another free service gaining popularity with users who rely on movie rentals through kiosk sites such as RedBox.

And while OverDrive is rapidly gaining in popularity among patrons of all ages, Oleen assured the county commissioners that the library’s collection of print books is here to stay.

“One question that usually comes up when we highlight OverDrive to people is, ‘Are you giving away all the print books?” Oleen said. “The answer is no. There is still a strong need and use for print resources at Rowan Public Library.”

The library staff encourages patrons to bring their phone or other electronic device to the second floor of the main branch, 201 W. Fisher St., for help installing the OverDrive app or downloading items.

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