eBooks: The New Normal

eReady RCPL

eReady RCPL

In October of 2011 I participated in the Library Journal/School Library Journal Virtual Summit: eBooks – The New Normal.

I had a wonderful time sharing about Richland County Public Library’s eReady initiative through the Public Libraries Panel eBooks: Strategy (Not) Required.

I wanted to share my slides and comments.


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  • (Slide 2) Richland County Public Library is located in Columbia, the capital city and smack dab in the center of South Carolina.
  • (Slide 3) We have been using downloadable audiobooks, music and video through OverDrive since 2007. We began our ebook collection with less than 1,000 titles in 2009. In 2010, our ebook collection grew 266%
    we currently have over 7,000 ebook titles.
    We will be a Beta Library for 3Ms new Cloud library. We are excited about the simplicity of the cloud-based technology, the opportunity to assist our customers with the entire eBook transaction from start to finish while inside the library, and the potential for eliminating financial burden of device ownership with the 3M eREader.  A clarification – the 3M model works both online and offline – meaning, you could download the title while using the library’s wifi, and enjoy the eBook whereever you may be.  No internet necessary after downloaded.
    In the latter part of 2010, we began to take a good, hard look at our ebook collection. We decided that we would do all that was within our power and influence to make eBooks easier to obtain, easier to talk about and worth marketing to the community.
  • (Slide 4) Our eReady initiative was born and took full steam in 2011;
    included in this approach was a unique outreach effort: eReady Learning Takeovers
  • (Slide 5) These restaurant takeovers started with a delicious fish taco and a friendly owner of a local Tex Mex restaurant a couple of blocks from the library. One Friday I noticed at least half of the customers there had some kind of “device.” Either a smart phone, tablet, laptop, …a way they could be using the library right then. The owner was willing to partner with the library, letting us give library ebook demos and instruction, in exchange, we offered a little free press.
  • (Slide 6) There began the eReady takeover. We use a mobile lab consisting of a nook, iPad and laptop, and now a Kindle as well. We often hold a drawing for an iTunes gift card. We hand out outreach library cards, or if the customer has time, register them on the spot.
  • (Slide 7) We also display a sign with the eReady logo, inviting people to download free eBooks now
  • (Slide 8) We us a hotspot that is used by presenters throughout our library system, allowing us to have Internet access wherever we have a cellular connection.
  • (Slide 9) About 10% of people at these takeovers were already aware Free library ebboks. Doris is pictured in one of these slides. She read about the Takeover on Facebook and had been having trouble with getting library eBooks on her iPad.
  • (Slide 10) Most people we just catch where they are. Mark is also pictured. He had no idea about free library eBooks, but was interested in the free iTunes gift card. He had a smart phone and a library card. He left with The app downloaded, ready to get free library eBooks.
  • (Slide 11) These takeoves also provide a fun and relaxing environment to share. We had one local restaurant owner who offered to host a happy hour timed Takeover and served complimentary h’ors deurvres.
  • (Slide 12) We have about 8 eReady volunteers trained on the basics of downloading from the library and on our approach to customer service.
    A few times we partnered with our neighbors at Lexington County Public Library. It has been wonderful to share and help promote each other’s collections.
  • (Slide 13) We also give out business cards, directing users to our downloadable site. I have found what entices people or eases peoples concerns most is a personal contact and opportunity for dialog.
  • (Slide 14) We always thank our partners to let them know how much we appreciate their support of the library-and remind them that we are eager to help them.
  • (Slide 15) We utilize social media-advertising EReady events on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Also creating opportunities for dialog about these technologies. As I was looking over some pas FB. Conversations, almost every single posting mentioned Kindle-IN these 1st 2 weeks with Kindle compatibility, 35% of our eBook downloads have been for the Kindle-our circ of eBooks has gone up 29.9% and our statistics regarding new patrons per day have almost doubled. Prior to Kindle, we were averaging 18 new patrons a day. We are now averaging about 35 new OverDrive patrons each day.
  • (Slide 16) In the first 3 months of our eReady initiative, with primarily 1 dedicated staff member and a couple of volunteers and the support and encouragement of library staff-we talked w 802 people about library eBooks and partnered with 12 local businesses.
  • (Slide 17) We have started to get invitations from businesses. Everytime we go out in the community, we seem to come back with at least a couple more invites from businesses and organizations. I think people realize that the library is good for business. We cross promote-heavily using social medias. Pictured above is a demonstration at an insurance agency’s open house- the business owner realized that promoting the library could be good for business. I believe I gave out 4 new library cards that day.
  • (Slide 18) The bar graph in the slides above represents circulation of eBooks by month. 486 downloads in Aug of 2010 compared with 6,118 downloads in august of 2011. With these public eBook demonstrations, one hurdle was finding really desirable and fresh titles that are available for checkout and not needing to be placed on hold. To cope with this, our Collections Management team strategically adds small purchases frequently, often releasing titles right before a public training. These small, frequent additinos really help freshen up the front page of featured titles on our OverDrive site.
  • (Slide 19) To sustain our presence and demand from customers, we recently created an eReady Team of about 8 librarians. Our eReady team members all have access to our mobile eReady lab. Pictured you see Amber, one of our reference librarians and eReady Team members toting our Mobile lab. We are use GOOGLE documents and calendar to share informationaboutscheduking, contacts, passwords… We recently had a demonstration at the local zoo and at Starbucks.
  • (Slide 20) We utilized the informal drop in for ebook demonstrations inside the library as well. At this Gadget Gallery (have your cake and ebook too), we served cake and coffee.
  • (Slide 21) We have volunteers and staff from various departments assist. Pictured you see one of our reference librarians with her personal Sony Reader demonstrating to both staff and customers.
  • (Slide 22) We have often project demos onto TVs and larger screen, allowing to simultaneously helping one individual, while benefiting a larger audience.
  • (Slide 23) We want our library system and our community to be eReady.
    We want this type of learning to be

As easy as possible

Keep it personal

Keep it conversational

I stress to our eReady Team that is is ALWAYS OK to not know the answer.  We can ignite conversations and follow-up.  These informal demonstrations provide a unique opportunity to Listen to our customers…or potential customers and help each other learn together.


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