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Meeting the digital demand page 2
Central Rappahannock Regional Library is trying to keep up with digital demand.

 England Run's branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library has space for people to meet, use computers and read in comfy chairs.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 7/15/2011

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Sometime this fall, the library will begin using a service called OverDrive that will provide current content from publishers including Random House, HarperCollins and Penguin. It could boost interest and the number of e-book borrowers.

"This summer is a real time of flux in this market," said Black. "It's all going to change."

She also said the change will be wonderful. "They seem to have things that are on the best-seller list," she said, noting the current e-book offerings make an "odd collection."

Another new provider, Axis 360, will soon allow CRRL users to borrow e-books that are heavy on pictures and illustrations. Full-color children's books and instructional books like cookbooks used to be the Achilles' heel of e-books, but devices such as the iPad have turned out to be popular platforms for reading them.

But library officials said that e-books are not just for young readers--users span the age spectrum.

becoming a downloader

When you go to a branch of CRRL and search for, say, "The Lost City of Z" by David Grann, the results can be overwhelming.

The library system has 19 copies of that book--11 in standard hardcover, two large-print editions, four sets of audiobook CDs and two Spanish translations. Once OverDrive comes online, there could be another copy: an e-book available for checkout.

So just how will that work?

In the big picture, it won't be any different than checking out any other book. If the book you want is available, you can download it. If someone else is reading it, you can reserve it.

If nothing else, e-books can make checking out books more convenient.

Adult-services coordinator Ann Haley said that the new library technology "enhances access for users."

To extend the comparison to the music industry, CRRL will essentially have an iTunes library for books. The files will be stored and downloaded in the open ePub format, and they can be read on compatible devices or computers. The difference is that the e-books will work like library books rather than music files: Users will not own the e-books after they download them.


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Top 10 e-book downloads from Central Rappahannock Regional Library since 2009 (number of downloads in parentheses)

10--"Patton: As Military Commander" by Hubert Essame (63)

9--"Smitten" by Janet Evanovich (65)

8--"Good Poor Man's Wife" by Claudia Bushman (67)

7--"Naughty Neighbor" by Janet Evanovich (71)

6--"The Harlem Renaissance: An Annotated Reference Guide for Student Research" by Marie Rodgers (78)

5--"Judas at the Jockey Club and Other Episodes of Porfirian Mexico" by William Beezley (87)

4--"How to Prepare for the Armed Forces Test--ASVAB" (109)

3--"Fugitive: A Novel" by Phillip Margolin (113)

2--"Nova's GRE Prep Course" by Jeff Kolby and Scott Thornburg (122)

1--"Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America" by Robert May (186)

A recent Associated Press report suggests localities across the country have responded to the recession by making drastic cuts to library budgets. Some have closed libraries altogether.

Not so in the Fredericksburg area, which has supported Central Rappahannock Regional Library through the tough economy. In fact, Stafford County built the England Run branch under budget while the economy was taking a beating.

Here are the last three annual budgets for CRRL. Some funding comes from the state, but most comes from the participating localities of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania, Stafford and Westmoreland counties.

2009--10

$9,716,033

2010--11

$10,309,055

2011--12

$10,625,077