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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.

eMagazines at the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, February 1, 2015


The popularity and acceptance of the eBook format caused me to think that it wouldn’t be long before magazines would join that format in the collections of public libraries.


Magazines have been available for some time in an electronic format, the early versions were difficult to read and hard to navigate, but the eFormat had solved most of those problems.


The problem was that most publishers found it difficult to deal with public libraries and our particular needs for distribution to the public.


We have had access to back files of magazines for years, but the format was simply document-based and not appealing in the same way you browse a magazine.


In the past year, new magazine products emerged for public libraries, and we decided to give the public use of popular, current magazines through a database called, “Flipster” which is produced by the EBSCO Corporation, the same company we use to acquire our paper magazine collection.


So, beginning the 1st day of 2015, if you have a library card with the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, you now have access to 42 magazine subscriptions that can be downloaded on your Tablet, or your computer.


Just go to and select the “E Resources” and select “Flipster” from the drop-down menu.  You can browse the eMagazines, and click on the cover picture of the magazine and your browser will load your selection into the window.


If you are using a tablet, download the FREE Flipster APP from the App Store, and you can download the magazine and read it offline.  Just like eBooks, the magazine will go away on its own after 2-5 days.


We still have paper magazines that can be checked out of the library, but I am seeing many paper magazines that will disappear with the eMagazine format and this product available for public libraries.


We are also working to purchase Tablets for our libraries so that you can sit and browse the eMagazines in the library like you used to do with browsing paper magazines.


Some libraries have cancelled their paper magazine subscriptions with the advent of eMagazines and I am sure that isn’t far away for our library system.


Flipster magazines have various numbers of simultaneous users for each title, from 100 to 1,000 to unlimited numbers, making the eMagazine subscriptions far more available than the one paper magazine that a library receives for a paper subscription.


For example, 500 library users in Jefferson County could be reading the current issue of “Good Housekeeping” instead of the 4 copies available in paper format.


Our other new eFormat product is the popular language development resource called “Rosetta Stone.”  They have finally released it for library purchase, and the eFormat allows people to check it out and use it just like a library book.


Rosetta Stone is accessed just like Flipster, and includes introductory language courses for 30 languages from French and Spanish to Hebrew and Italian.


Public Libraries have always been organizing information.  Now we continue that organization with both in-house as well as online resources and our Web Site operates as another branch library of the system.


The old librarian has to point out that when I started working in a public library, one of my tasks was to go to the Magazine storage room to “dig out” an issue of Life, or Look, or McCalls that someone had requested.


Regardless of how past issues of magazines were organized, they were a mess and hard to keep in-order.  You would try to gently move 30 lbs. of Life Magazine to retrieve a January issue and a slow-sounding rip meant that I would have to take that issue to the Mending Department and suffer the wrath of Miss Pipes peering over her bifocals.


In that regard, I see eMagazines as a major improvement.