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Are Libraries Becoming Outdated? Not In Chappaqua

Checking out a book at the library won't ever be the same.

Chappaqua Library launched its Chappaqua Advantage Account, which allows residents of Chappaqua exclusive access to specific eBook titles in addition to the other titles offered to all Westchester residents through the Westchester Library system.

The eBook service used, called Overdrive, a large data base with more than 7,000 different eBook titles, allows residents the opportunity to download any book of their choice offered through the service onto their device. In addition to the titles offered through the Westchester Library Service, Chappaqua residents have access to 1,000 unique titles through their town residency.

Martha Alcott, assistant director and librarian, said the library started the advantage program after utilizing Overdrive for the past couple of years.

"A few months ago we opened our own subscription so card holders would have access to even more titles," Alcott explained

The library's eBook services are compatible with Nooks, iPads, Sony Readers, iPods, and mobile devices as well, however the service is not compatible with the Kindle.

"The Kindle keeps saying they will make the device compatible, but we are still waiting, they keep pushing back the day," she said.

According to Alcott, although the library offers eBooks, they do not offer devices to lend out for residents to use. They must have their own in order to use the system.

"Our experience has been that most people come in with a device of their own and want to use it," she said. "Chappaqua residents are pretty technologically adaptable."

Through the eBook lending system, library users can chose the lending period for the book they wish to download. The lending period is either seven or 14 days. People wishing to sign up for the service can do so at the Westchester Library System website or through each branch's individual site.

"People can access the site and download the eBook onto their device from their personal home computer or if they have trouble they can bring it in and we can help them," Alcott said.

Alcott said she thinks one problem with eBooks and audio books is that not all titles are available as an eBook or audio book.

"I think in general we are used to being able to go onto Amazon.com and order whatever we want without a problem, but with eBooks, certain publishers limit the amount of times a book can be borrowed," she said. "We want all titles to always be available, not just disappear after a certain amount of times it is borrowed. An example of this would be Harper Collins books, which we don't buy."

Overdrive negotiates digital rights with each of the publishers, so publishers that do not give unlimited access to their books, can be a "real headache" according to Alcott. After the digital rights are negotiated the library can purchase titles it wants.

"The prices can seem a bit high, but some categories that circulate really well like romance, the prices will come down," Alcott said.

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