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Merging books with tech is increasingly popular

April 6, 2011
By MICHAEL H. BABCOCK Houghton Daily Mining Gazette , The Mining Journal

HANCOCK - A new kind of reader means a new kind of library, and the Hancock Public Schools Library is doing everything it can.

Early this year, the library welcomed a new partner for the new readers: Great Lakes Digital Library, which makes thousands of books available to people on mobile devices such as phones, laptops and tablets.

"It's becoming so popular," Librarian Sue Zubiena said. "There are so many devices out there now, audio books are so popular, people love them when they're traveling."

It's not just audio books, though, as digital copies are available through the website.

"We have to keep up with the technology the best we can," Zubiena said.

Books can be downloaded via digital copy or audio onto hard drives as well as directly to phones or tablets via applications.

"We haven't had a lot of use yet," Zubiena said. "But those that have used it really like it, they're excited about it."

Hancock isn't the first district in the area to offer the service; Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw Schools, Houghton-Portage Township, L'Anse Area Schools and Ontonagon Area Schools already offer the service.

"People need to be registered patrons, and they'll need to have their library ID number and PIN," Zubiena said. "That's all they need to access it."

Once they have access, the options are seemingly limitless.

"There are very new books, audio books and a lot of classics that they'll have unlimited access to," said Zubiena. "There's a lot of of the unlimited access ones, and there are children's books available. Everything you could find in a library, you'll find in this Great Lakes Digital Library."

The new books and the audio books are limited to just two weeks of use, but users don't have to worry about a late fee as they'll automatically expire.

The service is just another expansion for Hancock, which already offers a lot.

"We have a nice computer lab, we have computers in the general area that were given to us, and updated, by the Bill Gates Foundation," Zubiena said. "We have top-of-the-line networking and connection speed, which is wonderful."

The library is also a part of the interlibrary loan system, which connects them to other libraries in the U.P. and state.

The GLDL addition was paid for by the Khi Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society for women teachers.

"They had some money they were interested in giving to the library and asked what would be different or new, and I immediately thought of this," Zubiena said. "They were generous enough to help us out with this."

The advancements are especially impressive considering the troublesome economy.

"When funds are limited, you do everything you can to get reading materials, or music, or anything else into these kids' hands," Zubiena said.



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