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Massena library denies Library System request for e-book funds

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MASSENA - Massena Public Library officials feel the time is not right to put aside a large portion of its funding toward the purchase of new online e-books.

The library’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to reject a request from the North Country Library System to double its funding for the purchase of new e-books, on a one-time basis, in order to allow NCLS to expand its database. The library currently spends $726 per year to purchase new e-books. The extra funding would allow NCLS to acquire a “pool” of funds that it could utilize toward a large purchase of new e-books, Library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer said.

Though board members ackowledge area libraries should expand their e-book database at some point in the future, many library board members felt e-books are not yet popular enough to justify spending such a large amount of its resources on them at this time. Ms. Dunne-Thayer pointed out that only 34 people have downloaded the software to read NCLS’s e-books and last month those people downloaded a 72 e-books. In that same time, local residents have taken out 3,528 total adult fiction and non-fiction books, and 2,727 juevenile fiction and non-fiction books.

Board members pointed out the library is already in a difficult financial position, facing $78,000 in funding cuts from the town in its 2013 budget.

“We could buy books to benefit hundreds of people rather than a small group of people who probably have other means of getting books,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said. “I’d hate to cut into our book budget to pay for it.”

Board member Emily Hutchison pointed out it may be the case that people who have additional income to purchase an e-book reader may also have the additional income to purchase e-books as opposed to a person who cannot afford an expensive e-book reader and might have a harder time affording books.

She also pointed out the convenience of e-book readers may discourage some from taking the time and effort to download the necessary software to acess NCLS’s e-books.

“A lot of people with e-book readers don’t use the library’s service. They just buy their own e-books,” Ms. Hutchinson said.

Ms. Dunne-Thayer also felt uncertain about the program one must download onto their e-book reader in order to access NCLS’s database. The program, called Override, may be difficult for some to install, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

“There’s still some bumps in the system. It’s not an easy system (to download),” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said. “I think people who are unfamiliar with technology tend to get frustrated and walk away.”

Ms. Dunne-Thayer encouraged those who own e-book readers to visit the library Thursday for a series of instructional classes on e-book readers. Three classes will be held starting at 10 a.m., and residents are encouraged to bring their e-books for direct assistance.

At some point in the years ahead Ms. Dunne-Thayer expects the library will want to significantly expand its e-book database to accomodate new forms of learning and technology.

“Timing is an issue here. We will at some point in the future have to invest more in e-books, but hopefully there will be more people using them,” she said.

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