A survey conducted by West Fargo Public Library staff a year ago during West Fest yielded some interesting results.
When asked what could be done to make individuals use the facility, the overwhelming response was "You need to bring the library to me. I want to be able to download digital resources."
Taking the suggestion very seriously, the library organized a state consortium offering a collection of online resources - Library2Go powered by OverDrive - which went live for patron usage on Sept. 17.
The consortium, the first of its kind in the state, is comprised of libraries in West Fargo, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Williston, Minot, and McLean-Mercer counties, with additional libraries poised to join.
West Fargo Public Library Director Sandra Hannahs said the goal of the staff is to "let the community know that we have the service that offers at-home downloads of music, books, and audiobooks. This is what they asked for, and we hope they will find it a great service and enjoy using it. There is such a trend toward digital media. To go online and research goes much more quickly. This is just one more collection within our virtual library we hope people will enjoy using."
Hannahs said the consortium seemed to be the perfect way to go, since implementing the program alone would have otherwise been too expensive. The library invests $3,000 in the program annually with one third allocated for the subscription and the remaining two thirds to purchase materials for the collection, which now includes about 700 titles.
"Right now, we just have a start-up collection," Hannahs said. "What we've been doing is looking at the current collection to see where there are gaps, assessing what the popular titles are and what authors are being read. In doing so, we are reviewing what's being checked out both for format and title so we can make available what people would like to use."
Hannahs likens the process to purchasing the print collection. "What is different is we are collaborating in buying for libraries across the state." She said OverDrive has been most helpful in the process. "We have a great association with them, they have a great reputation and they also provide collection assistance regarding what's popular, new titles and also just making suggestions."
After being up and running for about three weeks now, Hannahs said interest seems to be growing. She added patrons are excited about the ease in using the program which is available 24/7, assesses no late fees, and can be accessed from virtually anywhere as long as a computer is available.
Consequently, usage becomes as simple as checking out, downloading and enjoying. All you need is an Internet connection, a valid library card, and the free required software that is available on the library's website at http://ndlibrary2go.lib.overdrive.com.
After downloading, most titles can be transferred to a mobile device (such as an iPod or an ebook reader) or burned to a cd to enjoy later, depending upon the permission rights that vary by publisher.
Visit http://www.overdrive.com/resources/drc for a list of compatible devices.
Hannahs adds that anyone who would like assistance in using any aspect of the program is also welcome and encouraged to attend special library classes focusing on the topic.
"The initial free software has to be loaded onto their computers. We do have lessons if anyone needs help." The two-part Library2Go (OverDrive) sessions will be held Thursday, Oct. 21, and Thursday, Oct. 28, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the library, with additional sessions to be scheduled. Those with laptops are asked to bring them with to receive assistance in downloading and installing the software needed to use OverDrive. Others are invited to join at 7:30 p.m. for a live demonstration of OverDrive, explaining how to access and use it at home, as well as have any other questions answered. Since limited space is available, sign-up for the free classes is required and must be completed in advance either at the library service desk or by calling 433-5460.
All in all, Hannahs said she is pleased to have this new electronic resource up and running. We are moving a step beyond, and really trying to work with the community as best we can. Right now we couldn't be happier with out latest online offerings which will only continue to grow."