Library expands eBook access

Students looking for a break from their schoolwork can now download popular literature ranging from “Twilight” to “The Great Gatsby” onto their portable electronic devices.

Through a two-year pilot program with OverDrive, a digital book distributor, this semester Yale University Library began offering students the opportunity to download e-books and audiobooks onto devices such Kindles, iPads and smart phones in OverDrive’s first partnership with an Ivy League university. Todd Gilman, the librarian for literature in English at Sterling Memorial Library, said in the past students were able to download e-books only onto their computers. Since the program began Sept. 28, Gilman said, over 120 individuals have checked out titles, which are primarily nonacademic books and novels, from the main library system.

Gilman said the library has received “very positive” reactions from students, and Julian Aiken, access services librarian at the Law Library, said 82 of the over 100 eBooks and audiobooks available at the library — which is separate from the main library system but also has access to OverDrive in a one-year pilot program — are currently checked out.

“Over 70 percent of materials we bought were checked out within the first week, which is quite a phenomenal figure,” Aiken said.

At the conclusion of both programs, library administrators will assess the level of interest the program and determine whether it should continue. Gilman said he expects the program to extend beyond the first two years, but he said it is still “too early to tell.”

Gilman said a new digital download system benefits the library because the library does not have to replace entire audiobook collections when patrons fail to return discs. OverDrive was the most appealing service because of its reasonable price and wide selection of materials, Gilman said, and he wrote a proposal last May to Ann Okerson, associate librarian for collection development, who approved the addition.

Shanaz Chowdhery ’13, who has downloaded seven items in the past two weeks, said she has used OverDrive to borrow e-books both for class and personal reading.

“I love it … It’s fairy intuitive to understand and easy to use, and I found that the feedback system was really effective,” said Chowdhery, adding that she can now access her books for class without carrying her heavy books.

Yale is one of the first academic libraries to adopt the OverDrive system, which is most commonly used in public libraries, Gilman said, adding that “most universities remain unaware of how much desirable content OverDrive offers.”

Trevor Dawes, the circulation services director at Princeton University’s Firestone Library, said the Princeton library gives students access to e-books online, but students cannot download these e-books onto their electronic devices.

“We have not yet made a decision about if we will make [downloadable content] available or what would be the best way of making downloadable content available,” Dawes said.

He added that all students can apply for a library card to access the separate Princeton Public Library, which uses OverDrive.

The Yale University library has 35 audiobook and 197 e-book titles, with multiple copies of some titles. In addition, 34,000 e-book titles in the public domain are available free to all Yale readers and do not count towards the checkout limit, Gilman said.

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