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In January 2010, Richland County Public Library began offering e-books through the distributor Overdrive. Interest grew slowly and steadily over the following months. As participation grew, so did frustrations from both library customers and staff over the sometimes confusing pathway between discovery and download. E-books, once found on the library’s website, often sat there as customers didn’t understand the next steps to get them to onto e-readers. Our research and customer feedback guided us to take an assertive approach to our e-book collection and crafting easier access via our website. Additionally, obvious support both internally and externally had to be available.
We began by asking ourselves: What can we do as the library to remove barriers to e-book usage? We were fully aware that issues surrounding digital rights management were the largest items to tackle and ones that would require the broadest (national) arena of support. With this in mind, we consciously addressed barriers close to home. Through strategic discussions and an internal focus group we created a list of items that could be resolved promptly and in a concentrated and accelerated manner to get our staff and customers eReady! To address the eReady list, we tagged an e-book savvy staff member to be project manager for the eReady initiative. We strengthened our e-book collection by doubling the amount of items over the course of about three months. Anticipating that e-reader ownership would be heightened after the holidays, we timed a central eReady learning session for staff representatives from all branch locations and for key support departments . Each location was issued an iPad and Nook on the day of the first eReady session. Further learning sessions rolled out as we tackled refocusing our downloadables webpage to reflect a how our users were approaching e-books: from the type of e-readers they own instead of from the collection we hold. With a stronger e-book collection, a more customer-focused downloadable page (that includes step-by- step instruction and video tutorial), and with staff members more knowledgeable in support and troubleshooting , we launched “eReady Learning Takeovers” at busy lunchtime locations and local hot spots. An in-the-library program called “Have Your Cake and e-book, Too” was launched to introduce the “eReady Gadget Gallery.”
Within 3 months of launching the eReady initiative our e-book circulation increased 266%; media coverage specifically about the library’s e-book content has grown, including aWall Street Journal blog link to one of our eReady video tutorials. A new partnership with Lexington County Library has emerged. Volunteers have become involved in order to help increase the power of eReady. Approximately 85% of all staff have been trained on downloading e-books.