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Kitsap Regional Library embraces technology | Kitsap Week

Sharon Grant is the Digital Branch manager for the Kitsap Regional Library. - Courtesy photo
Sharon Grant is the Digital Branch manager for the Kitsap Regional Library.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

If you are a card-carrying library patron, did you know your card allows you to go beyond checking out stacks of books?

With your card you can learn a new language. Or find a long lost relative. Or finally discover the reason your 1973 Trans Am won't start. This can all be done at the website, www.krl.org.

“Traditionally, library websites were more like a business card —the site would tell you its hours and location,” Digital Branch Manager Sharon Grant said. “Now the website has become another branch of the library.”

Grant’s job is a new one for the library system and she said KRL was very forward thinking in creating her position. She works out of the Sylvan Way branch, but the majority of her job is done online.

“I think there will always will be physical libraries,” she said. “But having someone who is working to bring things digitally along as well enhances the whole experience.”

Grant also helps educate the public on ways to use technology to gather information. At a recent event at the library’s storefront at the Kitsap Mall, patrons flocked to learn about eReaders.

“It took my breath away,” she said. “Over 100 people came, they were almost breaking down the doors to get in. That doesn’t always happen at library events.”

Kitsap patrons have embraced digital. In the last year, more than 30,000 downloadable checkouts (including eBooks, audio books and music) have been processed through KRL’s system.

The number is sure to increase, thanks to the recent change allowing Kindle devices to be compatible with the library’s system.

If you aren’t familiar with how an eBook works, here’s a brief lowdown on the downloads: Depending on your reading device (Kindle, iPad, or smartphone for example), you search the library’s website for available titles. Once you find a book you wish to read, you download it or, if it’s a high-demand title, sign up on the waiting list.

Just because an eBook is in a digital form doesn’t mean it can be checked out an infinite number of times. The publishers allow only one user per book at a time.

And while physical books have their own benefits (being more tactile comes to mind), digital books have their own benefits as well: no lost library books, no books chewed by a pet or ruined by someone who ate Cheetos while reading (orange fingerprints are hard to remove). And no overdue fines. When your time expires with a book — eBooks are given the same three-week window as with physical books — the file disappears from your eReader. Poof. No more books to return, no more fines piling up.

Grant equates the learning curve with eReaders with how people responded when the Internet became widespread. Back when the Internet was a new sensation, people turned to the libraries for guidance on how to navigate the web and how to use email. Grant sees eBooks as an exciting opportunity for the library to help educate the public.

Personal interaction takes place as well. If you are working on a research project and are stumped, use the form “Ask a Librarian” and you’ll receive an answer from a real, honest-to-goodness Kitsap librarian. You can even request book suggestions.

While some of our current technology seems like it came out of an episode of “The Jetsons,” Grant said we aren’t at the point where digital books replace all traditional books.

“People get their information in a variety of ways and the library is an institution that thinks about ways to help people in as many ways as possible,” Grant said. “It’s important to reach an audience who may not visit the physical library.”

A World to Explore at KRL

Things to do at www.krl.org:

-Place holds on books, check out eBooks, or renew your selections.

-Learn a new language (such as Spanish or Russian.)

-Read back issues of magazines and newspapers.

-Find auto repair manuals.

-Search for jobs, with resume builder create professional cover letters and resumes.

-Easily look up telephone numbers.

-Take software tutorials

-Take practice tests for the GED and college placement tests.

-Research your ancestry.


 

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