The new Kindle e-readers will be pre-loaded with a variety of books

by: BILL MINTIENS/SPECIAL TO THE CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Barratt Miller, Youth and Adult Services Librarian at the Crook County Library.

The Crook County Library will be the first in the region to have an E-Reader lending program.

The library began the innovative lending program on Monday, Oct. 7.

Funding for the purchase of six Kindle "Keyboard" model e-readers was procured through the Broadband Technical Opportunities Program (BTOP) federal grant, the same grant that was tapped to build the Central Oregon Community College extension campus several years ago.

"We were able to get the grant extended through September, 2013 and we were awarded $30,000 which we used to purchase six Kindles, software for wireless printing in the library, an iPad, a Samsung Galaxy tablet computer, and a Nook e-reader," said Barratt Miller, Youth and Adult Services Librarian.

The Kindle "Keyboard" model was chosen for its "text to speech" capability, the navigation menu can be read out loud for people with visual impairments. "The keys allow people with visual impairment to search the menu, touch screens are limiting in that respect," added Miller.

Connecting residents with technology they might not have an opportunity to experience otherwise is a goal of the library.

Miller explained that the library also wants to be a resource for library patrons to try out other e-readers and tablet computers. "We bought the other items for staff training and also to give patrons a chance to try different devices that they might be interested in purchasing in the future."

Library staff preloaded each Kindle with a variety of book titles, including new releases and classics.

"We have 20 genres that people can choose from; adult titles, mystery suspense, westerns, horror, and more. Our Director, Camille Wood, chose the biggest authors in each genre," said Miller.

Four of the Kindles are preloaded with adult titles, two preloaded for children, and two preloaded for teens. Over 200 titles will be available to choose from.

"One of my favorite things about the program is that each Kindle has hundreds of books to try. Everyone can find an old favorite and something new to enjoy," added Miller.

The Kindles have limited ability to access the internet and a patron cannot download titles that have not already been preloaded on the device.

Only six Kindles have been purchased at this time because the library is limited by Kindle's subscriber license. The number of Kindle's may increase in the future if the program is successful.

Like other library materials, e-readers can be reserved on the library's web site and borrowed for three weeks. To be eligible to check out a device, patrons must have photo identification, proof of address, and a library card with fines of less than $10.01.

It's free to borrow a Kindle from the library but patrons are responsible for replacement or repair costs if the device is damaged.

User friendliness-wise Miller feels the Kindles are simple to understand and use.

"We'll do some basic instruction with people but they are very straightforward and easy to use," said Miller. "We're also including an easy-to-understand manual for patrons to take home with them as well."

The Crook County Library is the first in Central Oregon to pioneer an e-reader lending program. Other libraries will surely be watching the program's success.

"We're the first to try this in the area and other libraries are going to learn from our experience," said Miller.

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