More councils to follow in making e-books and audio books from Bibliotecha Cloud Library available to users through mobile app
Six local authority libraries have begun to use a cloud service for lending e-books and audio books, with several more planning to follow in the near future.
They are the first in the UK to use the Cloud Library from US based company Bibliotecha. It can be accessed through a mobile app that can run on a number of devices using iOS or Android operating systems, or through most e-book readers.
Newcastle City Council has highlighted the place of the City Library as one of the six to launch the service, saying it made the move in response to a growing demand among its users for e-books and audio books. Last year borrowing of the two combined from the City Library increased by 12% to 21,818.
Councillor David Stockdale, cabinet member for communities and facilities at Newcastle City Council, said: "The success of modern day libraries is all about being able to move with the times and providing people with services they are interested in using.
“The world of e-books has really captured the imagination of readers and we are reflecting this need at Newcastle Libraries. This will hopefully increase the profile of our local libraries and bring to people's attention the other qualities our libraries have to offer.”
Five to follow
The other five libraries to pick up the service are Richmond Lending Library, Little Green (the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames), Ipswich County Library (Suffolk Libraries), Slough Library (Slough Borough Council), Shrewsbury Library (Shropshire Council) and City Central Library (Stoke-on-Trent City Council).
Bibliotecha said launches are also being scheduled by Bracknell Forest Council, Doncaster Council, the London Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster City Council.
The reading app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play and integrates with Bibilotecha's QuickConnect self-service software, requiring one-time entry of the user's library card ID. Newcastle's website page for the service says it is compatible with most e-book readers, but not Amazon Kindle.
Books can be downloaded remotely to a mobile device or home computer. While they are on loan they cannot be downloaded by other readers, but are automatically returned at the end of the load period.
The software comes with a function for reserving books from the catalogue, and can provide details on reservations, including the number for a specific title, to the management system.
A spokesperson for Newcastle said that initially 150-200 titles will be available, agreed between Bibliotecha and the publishers and predominantly from the bestseller lists. The plan is that as demand for the service picks up the number of titles will be increased.
Bibliotecha's UK commercial manager, Chris Millican, said it has about 500,000 titles, and the amount available to communities depends on how many the library buys. The catalogue comes from deals with UK publishers which he said is important in reflecting the preferences of UK readers.
The service has already been used in the US and Canada, and has been tested at a group of libraries from the UK Cloud Library Advisory Council.
Its UK commercial manager, Chris Millican, said: “Cloud Library has proven to be a favourite for US and CA library users, with reviews and rankings proving how simple, convenient and enjoyable the entire experience is. With no complicated Digital Rights Management, library staff will experience fewer support queries and a higher rate of collection circulation.”
This article was amended on 24 Feburary to include further information received from Bibliotecha.
Pictured: Gaby Winniczuk, Newcastle Libraries assistant, using the Cloud Library Discovery Station. From Newcastle City Council