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Libraries Go Digital With e-Readers

Ridgewood, Glen Rock libraries embracing Kindles, Nooks and iPads

Though many still love that old book smell, technology is rapidly changing how consumers absorb their favorite titles. No longer is it hardcover or softcover; now it's Nook, Kindle and iPad.

As the largest public educators in Ridgewood and Glen Rock, the local libraries are not shunning the digital publishing revolution. They're embracing it.

"I dont think there's any downside to e-books," Chris Yurgelonis, Assistant Library Director at the , said in an interview with Patch last week. "We're embracing it. It's what our patrons want, and as long as we're providing the needs for our patrons, we're doing our job."

After receiving a "generous" donation by the Ridgewood Public Library Foundation in 2011 in the form of e-readers and content purchases, RPL staff have been undergoing a battery of training to learn the nuances of the devices. Since December, the community too has been getting their work in.

After-school and on weekends, library staff and student volunteers are providing demonstrations and instructional sessions to the public. Organized by children's librarian Gina Mitgang, the team help go through the ABC's of digital readers with curious patrons – registering devices, helping download e-books, tinkering with settings for ease of use.

"We brought all the devices in and the public got to play with them and use it," Yurgelonis said, adding there are 11 e-readers in total being used for training. "People love that, they love to hold them."

Most participants have come in considering a purchase of one of the three devices, but often aren't sure which is the best fit.

"We could act as experts in helping them determine what would be best for their uses," noted Barbara Hand, the Ridgewood library's head of special programs and public relations. "I think it really gave us a great opportunity to help our patrons in a whole different medium."

Although the masters of technology are typically the young, those inquiring about the readers range from young to old.

"You'd think seniors would be more hesitant to embrace it but that's who we've seen a lot of with the labs," said Hand. Especially with older eyes, the backlit screens and larger font can be a greater comfort, Yurgelonis said.

Once training sessions are over, likely in the spring, the library will be giving residents the opportunity to take some of the devices home to try out and get a hang of for two-week lending periods.

It's a similar story in , where staff have also held workshops with Nooks and Kindles patrons can take a test run in, according to Library Director Betsy Wald.

Paper or plastic, library staffs say whatever the patrons prefer, they'll adapt.

"It really plays into our mission," said Hand, "which is to really work with information in any format it's provided to make sure our patrons have access to it, understand it, use it to their best advantage. We're really able to grow with the medium."

"We're still about physical books," added Yurgelonis. "This is just a new component."

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