App lets Vernon Area library patrons reserve books, register for programs
Vernon Area Public Library patrons with smartphones or tablets now can reserve books, renew materials, sign up for programs and download movies or TV shows on a new mobile app.
"(It) provides a one-stop gateway for a wealth of resources that the library offers," said Catherine Savage, spokeswoman for the Lincolnshire library. "It's not just the catalog. It's not just eBooks. It's not just music downloads."
Publicly unveiled this week, the app is available for handheld devices using Android, Apple iOS, Windows, Kindle or BlackBerry systems.
With the launch, Vernon Area joins libraries in Arlington Heights, Lake Zurich, Naperville, Palatine, Schaumburg, Algonquin and Wheeling among the growing list of suburban libraries in the with their own mobile apps.
"We really like giving people a mobile option," said Amy Pelman, the digital services manager at Arlington Heights Memorial.
Vernon Area's app was designed by a California company called Boopsie that specializes in creating library apps. More than 2,500 libraries across the world use Boopsie-designed apps, the company's website boasts.
Vernon Area's app lets patrons use their smartphones or tablets to:
• Look up materials in the library catalog.
• Place holds on stocked items and upcoming releases.
• Check due dates and renew items.
• Access digital books, movies, magazines and music.
• Learn about programs, classes, author appearances and other events.
• Find library hours and staff contact information.
Vernon Area employees began testing the website during a soft launch in November.
"Our staff has every (mobile) device," Savage said. "We all loaded it onto our devices and found out what needed to be tweaked."
As of midday Wednesday, the app had been downloaded 420 times, Savage said. Not surprisingly, the Apple and Android versions have bee downloaded most often.
"Initial data shows that catalog searches are the most popular activity," Savage said.
A Vernon Area library card is required for some services. People with cards at any Illinois library can register for borrowing privileges at Vernon Area.
Many suburban libraries don't have their own personalized apps, but some use third-party apps such as OverDrive, 3M Cloud or My Media Mall to download eBooks, audiobooks, movies and TV shows. They include libraries in Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Mundelein and Wauconda.
An app like Vernon Area's is better, Savage said, because it's a single access point for those resources and many more.
"It's a dashboard for a number of library services," she said.
To download the app, search for "Vernon Library" in a device's app store or go to vernon.boopsie.com.
Vernon Area's contract with Boopsie will cost the library $5,000 annually, Savage said.
Boopsie's other local clients include the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Elgin's Gail Borden Public Library and the Palatine Public Library.
Andrea Lublink, the Palatine library's communications manager, is a big fan of her facility's app, which has been downloaded nearly 9,000 times since it launched in April 2012.
"I think it's really great that wherever they are they can access the catalog and see if we have a book," she said. "It makes it more accessible."
Arlington Heights Memorial's app has been downloaded 21,216 times since it debuted in 2011. Most people use it to check their accounts, renew items and place holds, Pelman said.
"It is an option people really enjoy," she said.