Libraries soon accessible from home

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CHRISTOPHER MOTABOGI

Taking that trip to your local library will soon be a thing of the past and it will become possible to access your favourite books on a home computer or even your cellphone. Free State book lovers were this week introduced to a pilot project launched in Bloemfontein aimed at leveraging technology and encouraging literacy. The Free State department of sport, arts, culture and recreation launched the Overdrive e-Books project at the Bainsvlei Public Library on Wednesday.

Provincial Library and Archive Services official, Raspby Ramugondo, says the Overdrive e-books project will allow users to access e-books at their own convenience without having to travel to a library. However, she says users will first be required to register at a library in order to make use of the service from home or on their cellphones. “We have also purchased e-readers. These tablets are going to be distributed to all these 25 libraries to be used to download books. So we worked directly with Overdrive in the United States of America (USA). They gave us support in terms of training on how to actually start up with this programme,” says Ramugondo.

According to her, district managers were requested to identify five libraries per district to participate in this pilot project. “Overdrive is an e-Library where users can download e-books on their computer or laptop, as long as they have internet access and the software to do so,” says Ramugondo. This programme is compatible with computers and iPhones, iPads, Blackberrys and phones that have Windows installed on them.

However, Ramugondo told Courant that the provincial book loving public will first be required to register at a library in order to make use of the service from home or on their cellphones.
“We purchased 50 tablets for these libraries we are using as pilots, and then we are also going to roll out the devices (eReaders) to all our Free State libraries every year,” says Ramugondo. The department says it believes this project will enable users to access library material irrespective of their locality and will attract more library users, especially the youth, who prefer to access online technologies instead of utilising paper-based resources like newspapers.
Overdrive is a leading USA-based distributor of e-content such as books, audio books, music and videos for public libraries, schools and retailers.