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updated: 1/10/2012 10:54 AM

Librarians say 'let me show you how' to puzzled e-reader users

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  • Geneva Library reference assistant Christine Dalphy helps a group learn how to use their various e-readers to check out books from the library Monday afternoon at Graham's 318 in Geneva.

    Geneva Library reference assistant Christine Dalphy helps a group learn how to use their various e-readers to check out books from the library Monday afternoon at Graham's 318 in Geneva.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


It's two weeks past Christmas. Is that Amazon Kindle you found underneath the tree sitting idle because you can't quite figure out its bells and whistles?

Geneva Public Library librarians are eager to help you with that.

So eager, they are setting foot outside of the library, taking e-reader seminars to a local cafe. The first was Monday, at Graham's 318 in downtown Geneva.

About 10 people came, and relished the individual attention of two library workers giving hands-on instruction over free cups of coffee.

Attendees especially wanted to know how to download books for free from the library.

The library subscribes to Overdrive, a distributor that allows patrons to check out up to five books at a time. Until last fall, however, people who had Amazon Kindle e-readers could not use the service. Now, however, it is compatible with Kindles, Nooks, Sony Editions, Kobos and other e-readers, as well as computers, BlackBerrys, and tablet computers.

That was good news to Emily Scatterday, a library patron who is working in the Dominican Republic. She said there aren't many bookstores where she is at that carry a wide selection of English-language books, so being able to use her Kindle to get books from the library is appreciated.

Her mother, Martha Scatterday, said she likes e-readers because they satisfy her desire to read something immediately. In the past if there was a wait for a book at the library, she would find herself buying it at a bookstore. With an e-reader, she doesn't have to go to the library, and if it turns out even the e-book is checked out, she can buy an e-book online, cheaper than a paper book.

Jamie Weaver, outreach and marketing director for the library, is an enthusiastic user of e-readers. During the 90 minutes she was at Graham's, she explained how to access Overdrive, search for eligible books, move them to people's Amazon and Barnes and Noble personal accounts and more. Phrases like "don't hold it down too long" and "go to your digital basket" punctuated the air. She explained to one man that to use Overdrive he was going to have to enable cookies on his Kindle. For a nother patron, she explained how to sync her e-reader with her iPad, in case she wants to switch between the two for reading the same book. And she showed the difference between devices that use electronic ink and those that don't, in terms of ease of reading.

"I am going to have to write these steps down, because I am never going to remember them," said one woman. She wasn't the only one reverting to the ancient technology of pen-and-paper.

As for why the library decided to take the show on the road?

"It's just a way to see if we can connect with the community," Weaver said of the meeting spot. She had heard of other libraries doing this. It also helped that Graham's 318 offers wireless Internet access, and has comfortable couches and a fireplace.

The next one, Feb. 2, will also be at Graham's 318; after that, they may pick another spot, Weaver said.

And in the meantime, feel free to ask librarians at the actual bricks-and-mortar library, 127 W. James St., if you need a hand.

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