E-Books Coming to Tulsa Library

Wednesday, June 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa libraries will soon join the latest revolution in publishing. They will have e-books available for patrons.

The Tulsa City-County Library system is one of 100 major U.S. libraries taking part in a six-month e-book trial starting Friday. The News on Six went to Central Library Wednesday for a look at what some say is the future of reading.

When we talk about settling down with a good book, most of us haven't imagined its looking like the Rocket e-book. It's one of two-e-book products that the Tulsa's library will soon test with patrons. It can load up to 100 books, give readers their choice of font size and format, and is light and compact enough to take anywhere.

Many in the publishing world predict people will take the e-book with them everywhere. "We really think people will be carrying this around on airplanes, on beaches and even be lying in bed reading this," said Director of Library Automation Jon Walker.

The Tulsa library will test the Rocket e-book at four branches. There will be only 12 e-books, with ten books loaded on each book, by genre, such as mystery or romance. The books cost around $200 dollars a piece. The library is still working on the procedure for check out.

Passionate book lovers resist the idea, but Walker says the printed page isn't going away. E-books just offer a new option, he says, with advantages, such as portability, but also disadvantages. "Obviously, electricity or battery power is needed for these devices," he noted. "You can't get them wet. You can't sit in the bathtub with them."

Library users can also access netLibrary, which will offer electronic versions of more than 6000 titles. Users will receive help in setting up a free account. "That will be their personal account, just like their library card," Walker explained.

A search under travel, for example, will offer several matches, providing a preview of the book or you can it check out for 24 hours. Readers we asked were ready to open e-books, mainly for the convenience. "If it's good information and it's been transferred properly, then I think it's OK," said library patron Bob Potter.

However, the question remains. Will people miss the feel of a book in the hand? "There are a lot of people who like that," explained Walker. "They like the feel of that paper. They like the smell of the library. We think it's just about different options for people. That's just the age we're living in today.

Library Director Linda Saferite says funds from the 1998 bond election make the new technology possible and there's more on the way. For example, users will soon be able to renew books and place holds on titles with just a telephone call.