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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Ohio Digital Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 10, 2013

This week a new library was formed in Ohio.


If you stand on a hilltop, or peer up a valley, or gaze across a lake; you won’t be able to see it.


But there it is, all around us, with over 170,000 books on its shelves.


Just like those brick and mortar libraries that we can see and enjoy around us, all you need to checkout something is a library card, and the same car that fits Mr. Carnegie’s buildings will work with this new library.


It is called The Ohio Digital Library, and was formed by combining the Ohio eBook Project and the SEO Library Center eBook collection into one collection open to Ohio library users who cards will work in this new library.


And yes, the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County is one of the many Ohio public libraries that are part of this new digital library.


We have been purchasing digital product for the SEO Library Center in cooperation with 90 other Ohio libraries, the larger including our system, as well as the Licking County Library in Newark, Chillicothe-Ross County Library, Findlay-Hancock County Public Library, and the Wood County Public Library in Bowling Green.


Our card holders can borrow popular digital media anytime, anywhere, and the titles automatically expire and go away with no overdue fines.


Users may borrow the digital collection using all major computers and devices, including iPhone, iPad, Nook, Android, and phones and tablets, and Kindle eBooks can be read immediately on any device with an Internet browser via OverDrive Read.


For an old librarian, all of this is hard to swallow, but is absolutely necessary to allow libraries to remain as part of the information technology format of now and the future.


But, no overdue fines?  How is a library supposed to operate without its fines?  Well, I hate to burst the bubble of most of the world, but overdue fines only account for about half of one percent of any library’s budget.


I am thrilled that digital downloads don’t involve overdue fines, and technology has found a way of returning bits & bites of technology when 3 weeks are ended.


Imagine a regular book somehow climbing out of the back seat of a car and zooming back to the library to be reshelved.


Digital eBooks are becoming more like their parents every day.  You can turn the pages just like a paper book, bookmark your location, and even enlarge the text to make it a Large Print book!


Now, some people still miss the feel and smell of the traditional book, and find online technology to be cold and sterile.


Some of us have to print things on paper to make them “real.”


The United States is producing and using more paper than ever before, and most computer companies make a large part of their profits from selling ink cartridges.


So, will the paper book ever go away like the LP record, Beta Video, or 8-track tape?


I don’t think so, but I do think that things published frequently due to updating will disappear as paper formats.


Libraries will look different with more and more technology.


But, there will still be a public desk, real people answering the phones, and someone to show you how to download to your Kindle.