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County Library Gets $9K from Montgomery Township

Kathleen Arnold-Yerger informed supervisors about the popularity of e-books at Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library and her hopes for the future of the Bookmobile in the township

has $9,000 more to its coffers, thanks to a contribution Monday night from .

Executive director Kathleen Arnold-Yerger was there to accept the check and she filled in supervisors and the public in attendance on e-books and her dream for the future of the Bookmobile.

Arnold-Yerger said the library now has more than 11,000 titles for e-readers like Kindles and Nooks.

"I think since last year we tripled the circulation with e-books. We can't keep up with the requests for e-books," she said. "You don't have to purchase them; you borrow your e-books from the library. You can choose to have it for seven, 14 or 21 days. That's up to you as a reader."

On day 14, for instance, poof - the book disappears automatically from the e-reader.

If you want to renew the e-book, she said, you can have it again, as long as no one else is waiting for it. 

"The lines sometimes for the best sellers are extremely long. We can only purchase so many copies," she said.

So, readers turn to the alternative - the hard copy.

"They will walk into the libraries and pick it up. There's the hard copy sitting there," Arnold-Yerger said. "They just want to read."

She said one need not visit Norristown to check out an e-book. It can all be done online with your library card.

"As long as you have the card, you can go right to our website and download the software, and we have excellent step-by-step directions," she said.

A library card is free to all Montgomery County residents. Residents outside Montgomery County must have a library card from their home library with an Access Pennsylvania sticker on it.

Non-residents can be obtained by paying $20 a year.

According to the Montgomery County Library website, a card from a township library will entitle one to get an Access Pennsylvania sticker on his or her card, and this will allow the user to borrow materials at the county library and at most Pennsylvania public libraries.

Find out more about how to get a library card at this link.

Montgomery County Library also offers classes on using e-readers, but they are filled to capacity, Arnold-Yerger said.

"They are free classes that help people, and it sets up a relationship with the people on my staff," she said. "(Library card users) can call from home or work (for help). We really try. It's been one of our most exciting pieces in the last couple of years."

Of those 11,000 e-books, none of them are books from publisher Simon and Schuster. Why? They don't sell to libraries and that's been the biggest challenge for the library.

"They absolutely will not sell to us," Arnold-Yerger said. "They don't like our model: Checking something out and having multiple people use it." 

Penguin Group is another such publishing company causing a hurdle for the library.

"Penguin will allow us to have books available for our patrons, but they charge us almost three times the cost of buying it," Arnold-Yerger said.  

Supervisor Joe Walsh asked if the library has worked out its e-books issue with Amazon.

Last August, Arnold-Yerger told supervisors that Amazon was working with the vendors to be able to use Montgomery County Library's titles with the Kindle.

Arnold-Yerger said Monday the issue wasn't so much the library as it was the publishers.

"The publishers drive a lot of that. It's a proprietary thing," she said. "You have to go through the Amazon site, but you can do it for Kindle."

In April 2011, Amazon announced that Kindle users will be able to borrow eBooks from more than 11,000 nationwide libraries under the Kindle Library Lending program.

Customers are able to renew checked out books and preserve previous notes and highlights using Amazon’s Whispersync technology.

"We're excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries," said Jay Marine, director of Amazon Kindle in an April 2011 statement. "Customers tell us they love Kindle for its Pearl e-ink display that is easy to read even in bright sunlight, up to a month of battery life, and Whispersync technology that synchronizes notes, highlights and last page read between their Kindle and free Kindle apps."

A Kindle book can be checked out, and customers can read them on a Kindle device or Kindle app on Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry or Windows phone.

If the book is checked out again, according to the statement, all notes and bookmarks will be preserved.

The program is overseen by OverDrive, a digital content provider.

Walsh told Arnold-Yerger that the township will be enhancing its relationship with the library when the proposed community center is built at Stump and Horsham roads.

"We are building a community center and we haven't decided what exactly is going in there," Walsh said. "I think it's safe to say, to enhance our relationship with the Montgomery County Library, in some respects, there's lots more room."

Arnold-Yerger said she attended the July 11 meeting on public input for the center as part of the needs assessment. She remembered when Montgomery Township Historical Society President Richard Roller brought up the idea of making a permanent home for the Bookmobile at the center.

She said the Bookmobile does very well when it appears for the public to use at Water Tower Square.

"It would be great to have a place to put it out of the elements. But I will say to you, I would like a real obvious place for it," Arnold-Yerger said. "Put it front and center, the Bookmobile, so people can find it and see it. This is a great location here. We are very anxious."

Arnold-Yerger said she wished to give input on the community center to the architect and planner involved on the project. She said she worked with them about five years ago when they were working on a study for Upper Providence Township.

So, who does Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library serve?

The answer: Everyone who is not served by a public library.

"We serve you (in Montgomery Township) because we must serve you," Arnold-Yerger said. "By law, by library code, any community in this county not served by a public area, it is our service area and we must serve you."

Part of those rules and regulations are that Montgomery County Library must spend $5 per capita for each resident, she said.

"That's why we really appreciate your support with the $9,000," she said.

Montgomery County Public Library is part of the nonprofit MCLINC - Montgomery County Library and Information Network Consortium. It has five branches: Norristown, Conshohocken, Perkiomen Valley, Royersford and Upper Perkiomen Valley.

Other member libraries of MCLINC include:

  • Abington Township Public Library
  • Cheltenham Township Library System
  • Free Library of Springfield
  • Horsham Township Library
  • Huntingdon Valley Library
  • Jenkintown Library
  • Lower Merion Library System
  • Lower Providence Community Library
  • Narberth Community Library
  • Pottstown Regional Public Library
  • Upper Dublin Public Library
  • Upper Merion Township Library
  • Upper Moreland Free Public Library
  • William Jeanes Memorial Library
  • Wissahickon Valley Public Library 

Montgomery County Library is open Monday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Saturdays from July 7 to September 1, the library is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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