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updated: 1/18/2011 3:40 PM

Sugar Grove library joins e-book craze

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Sugar Grove Library patrons will soon be able to download electronic books -- for free, thanks to a donation from the Friends of the Library.

The group decided to give $1,500 toward the purchase of the necessary software, and the library board approved the purchase last week.

Pat Graceffa, of the Friends, said she was inspired to suggest the purchase after reading news articles about how many people received electronic readers, such as Kindles and Nooks, as Christmas gifts. Her notion was supported by an informal survey taken in January of people who subscribe to the Friends' e-mail newsletter and patron requests to library staff. "We receive loads of questions" about whether the library has this, said Beverly Holmes Hughes, the library's director.

The library will use Overdrive, a digital distribution company that has agreements with 1,000 publishers and a catalog of 500,000 titles. Besides downloads for e-readers and computers, it also offers audiobooks. The annual subscription is $3,000. The library board will cover its part in part with $750 that was budgeted to subscribe to an online reference tool.

It will take a few weeks to subscribe, work out the technical connection details between the library and the service, and train the staff, Hughes said. When Overdrive is ready, it will be announced on the library's website and via e-mail.

The Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Messenger and Town and Country public libraries subscribe to Overdrive. Library patrons must access Overdrive through their own library.