Digital magazines a hit at Lincolnshire's Vernon Area Public Library

Updated 12/1/2012 10:29 AM

More than 100 patrons have signed up for the Vernon Area Public Library's digital magazine service since it launched about two weeks ago, officials said Friday.

It's so popular, staffers at the Lincolnshire facility already have expanded the catalog from 70 to 95 titles, and they expect to add more.

"It's such a good product," library spokeswoman Catherine Savage said. "The digital versions of these magazines are even more engaging than the print versions."

The library subscribes to a digital service called Zinio to share magazines with customers. After downloading free software, people simply need to use their library cards to check out magazines they want to read.

Available titles at Vernon Area include Consumer Reports, Rolling Stone, Men's Health and Seventeen. Most are for adults, but a few magazines for younger readers are available, Savage said.

"There are just a ton of titles," Savage said.

Most computers, smartphones, tablets or e-readers can use the Zinio software, Savage said.

The Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich and the Barrington Area Public Library are among the suburban facilities with similar digital magazine services. Patrons of the Cook Memorial Public Library District facilities in Libertyville and Vernon Hills should have access to their own system starting in December, Director Stephen Kershner said.

Unlike the checkout system for books, games or videos, digital magazine services don't require a wait list or a checkout period. Content is available immediately and can be retained by the patron indefinitely, stored either in the cloud or on a device.

Digital magazines offer features print magazines can't, Savage said. Articles often include videos, audio clips or hyperlinks to websites about related topics.

Some advertisements are even interactive.

"You can do things on a digital device or a computer that you can't do on a sheet of paper," Savage said.

Setting up the service at Vernon Area cost less than $5,000, Savage said.

The library also pays for each annual subscription, and prices are comparable to traditional newsstand costs.

There are no additional download fees or viewing-related costs.

Scott Davis, director of the Fremont Public Library in Mundelein, said his staff is considering adding a digital magazine service to the library's offerings.

"We have had some patron requests for it, so we are definitely looking at it," Davis said.

The biggest obstacle is the cost, he said.

Savage says the service is "unequivocally" worth the price.

"Enhanced content with anywhere, anytime access improves both service and convenience for our patrons," she said.

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