East Hawaii News

Libraries Getting More eBooks, Public Access Computers

July 19, 2013, 5:00 PM HST
* Updated July 19, 5:04 PM
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Public libraries statewide will be receiving new eBooks and other library materials thanks to a $700,000 appropriation from the state Legislature.

This will be the first time since the economic downturn occurred in 2008 that the Hawaii State Public Library System has received state funding specifically for library materials, a spokesman for the system said.

During that period the system has relied on special funds and federal grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to purchase annual subscriptions to the most popular, high-demand online resources and databases, and to otherwise expand and update library collections.

State Librarian Richard Burns said library users are rapidly embracing the electronic versions of books.

“Our eBook collection is extremely popular and well-used, and eBook circulation is growing at a faster rate than any other materials collection,” Burns said in a statement.

“Accordingly, we plan to devote fully half of these funds to eBook purchases, which we estimate will increase our total eBook collection by approximately 25%.  This funding will help us meet the high demand for eBooks and other library materials.”

Libraries spokesman Paul Marks also said that a partnership with two state agencies – with the help of a private foundation and a non-profit group – will allow the library system to install 600 new public access computers in the state’s libraries.

Marks said that includes 171 new computers in libraries on the Big Island.

The library system’s partnership with the Department of Education and University of Hawaii, under the federal Broadband Technology Opportunity Program, is providing free wireless internet access in all libraries as well as 54 ADA-accessible computer workstations.

Library officials bolstered that partnership to acquire the 600 computers by leveraged the BTOP funding with an $823,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $388,000 in matching funds from the Friends of the Library.

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