e-Reading and More with the New York Public Library

While reading on-the-go has always been popular, especially in cities like New York, where most people are catching up on magazine subscriptions, newspapers, and the latest paperbacks during their rush-hour commutes, the e-Reader is quickly becoming king. The successes of the Kindle, Nook, and iPad are adapting the way we read, similar to the way the iPod and other MP3 devices changed how we listen to music. (And with the increasing popularity of audiobooks, we’re “listening” to books on our iPods, as well).

Luckily, the New York Public Library has kept up with these growing trends by implementing an e-resource platform, eNYPL.org. By logging in with a NYPL library card, members have access to an extensive collection of downloadable audiobooks, eBooks, music and video titles. Most titles can be checked out for up to 21 days before they expire and can be renewed as many times as desired. If the title is unavailable, the member is added to a waiting list; the eNYPL sends an email when the title is ready for download. The best part—just like the rest of the library, all the content is free to borrow!

Via email, I learned more about the “e-collection” from Denise Hibay, Susan and Douglas Dillon Head of Collection Development at NYPL.

Which e-readers are compatible? How about the iPad and other tablets?

OverDrive, the library’s primary site for downloadable e-books, allows users to download onto a number of devices, including the Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, iPod, and the Sony Reader. This past April, Amazon announced a Kindle Library lending program which will allow our users to borrow Kindle books. We expect that program to go live by the end of the year, which is very exciting news!

Is there also an app available for iPhones/Smartphones/etc?

Yes, there is a free app—the OverDrive Media console—that can be installed on phones and a number of devices. To find out more we recommend users look at the OverDrive section on the website.

What about video streaming? Will the NYPL be digitizing its film collection for a Netflix/Hulu-type service?

Streaming is one way that content can be delivered over the Internet. The Library is not in a position to digitize the commercial film content we provide to our users (which is protected by copyright and distribution rights), but we’re always looking for new delivery models and providers that will allow us to expand access and make content available 24/7.

How popular has this service been thus far? What are the future goals?

The service is incredibly popular and growing in the number of new users to the site. If the downloadable site were a physical location, it would be among one of our highest circulating branches with over 407,000 circulations within the past year. We have over 42,840 e-books and over 25,180 audio books in a number of subjects and genres, including classic literature, romance, mystery and children’s books. Our plans are to continue building the collection, especially as new content becomes available.