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Massena library denies system’s request for e-book money

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MASSENA — Massena Public Library officials say the time is not right to put a large portion of its funding toward the purchase of new e-books.

The library’s board of directors voted unanimously to deny a request from the North Country Library System to double its funding for the purchase of e-books, on a one-time basis, to allow the system to expand its database.

The library spends $726 per year to purchase e-books. The extra funding would allow the system to acquire a “pool” of money it could use toward a large purchase of e-books, said library director Elaine Dunne-Thayer.

Though board members acknowledge area libraries should expand their e-book database at some point in the future, many thought e-books are not yet popular enough to justify spending such a large amount of its resources on them at this time.

Ms. Dunne-Thayer pointed out only 34 people have downloaded the software to read the system’s e-books, and throughout last month, those people downloaded a total of 72 e-books.

In that time, residents have taken out 3,528 total adult fiction and nonfiction books and 2,727 juvenile fiction and nonfiction books.

Board members pointed out the library is already in a difficult financial position, facing $78,000 in funding cuts from the town in its 2013 budget.

“We could buy books to benefit hundreds of people rather than a small group of people who probably have other means of getting books,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said. “I’d hate to cut into our book budget to pay for it.”

Board member Emily Hutchison pointed out people who have additional income to purchase an e-book reader may also have the additional income to purchase e-books, whereas a person who cannot afford an expensive e-book reader may also have a harder time affording books.

She also pointed out the convenience of e-book readers may discourage some from taking the time to download the necessary software to access the system’s e-books.

“A lot of people with e-book readers don’t use the library’s service. They just buy their own e-books,” Ms. Hutchison said.

Ms. Dunne-Thayer also expressed uncertainty about the program one must download onto an e-book reader to access the database.

The program, called Override, may be difficult for some to install, she said.

“There’s still some bumps in the system. It’s not an easy system,” she said. “I think people who are unfamiliar with technology tend to get frustrated and walk away.”

Ms. Dunne-Thayer encouraged those who own e-book readers to visit the library Thursday for a series of instructional classes on e-book readers.

Three classes will be held starting at 10 a.m. and residents are encouraged to bring their e-books for assistance.

At some point in the years ahead, Ms. Dunne-Thayer expects the library will want to significantly expand its e-book database to accommodate new forms of learning and technology.

“Timing is an issue here,” she said. “We will at some point in the future have to invest more in e-books, but hopefully there will be more people using them.”

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