If you are like me you probably kept hoping that ebooks would go away. Hoping that you would never have to learn how to use them, let alone teach a patron how to. Then Christmas 2010 happened and my eyes were finally opened. I am sure you are aware that last Christmas ebook readers sold like, well, like books at Christmas. Were you also aware that the Overdrive service was down due to the demand for ebooks and audiobooks? It was.

eBooks are not going away. I have to instruct staff and patrons on how to use them. “How to use them” sounds so simple. The devices all seem to be completely different. Overdrive always seems like such a monster. A multitude of formats. Ugh! I got a library to run; I do not have the time for this!!!

The good news is that ebooks have come a long way in the past 5 years. Back when I first started checking them out the selection was horrible. I can’t remember the name of the service I first used, but the selection was mainly computer and science books. Hardly what you would call pleasure reading, unless these are the subjects which provide you pleasure. The State Library of Kansas, through the vendor Overdrive, has been able to provide access to quite a few ebooks and the selection is much improved.

I own an Amazon Kindle. Prior to owning a Kindle, I would have put the chances of me getting into ebooks at about zero to one. The beauty of the Kindle is that to order an ebook takes literally a few minutes. Most new fiction and nonfiction titles are available, plus an incredible back catalog of titles for everyone. The Kindle requires that you spend some money. Cheaper than a physical book, but still spending money for a book is hard for a librarian who works in a library to do.

I remembered that Overdrive has ebooks and I was stoked to get some for my Kindle. That lasted for about a minute, until I realized that this could not take place. Kindle has a pricing strategy that is mainly you buying books from Amazon. Makes sense, they made the device. So they don’t play at all with Overdrive. But there is an alternative. If you go to the Amazon site they do have a listing of free sites to get public domain works. The process to get those on my Kindle is moderately easy. I will say this for the Kindle: with the Kindle apps available for most types of mobile devices I can easily access my titles anywhere.

Did I tell anyone I just turned 40? Well I did. For my birthday I got a smart phone. A smart phone is another word for a phone that is smarter than you are. I found out the other day there was an Overdrive app for my phone so I decided to try it out. Well, it didn’t work so well.

I got audiobooks on my phone real easy, but still working on ebooks. Today I forgot to bring the cord to plug my phone into my computer, so I was not able to get an ebook on it. I will keep trying.

I always think that when things get tough that you start learning things. I think what I learned today is that ebooks are just like everything else. Make it easy and I want more. Make it hard and I will look for something else. Sadly, being a library director, I don’t get that option. I have to learn them. Thankfully the State Library is continually developing training materials, and I have the awesome staff at NEKLS to reach out to.

So we are now at this point where trainers have to step it up, and we as learners have to get more engaged. Sadly, we just can’t shrug our shoulders and say we don’t know. Well, we could, but I am sure our patrons would not be too happy about that.

Royce Kitts
Tonganoxie Public Library

“The world’s nicest library.”