Now entering its third year, the Kindle check-out program at the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library may be hitting a wall when it comes to interest in checking the Kindles out.
Circulation desk worker Nathan Wunrow said they are “very rarely” checked out.
“Our goal was to keep the sign out front advertising it as long as there’s (Kindles) available,” Wunrow said. “Right now, they’re almost all in.”
Unawareness and disinterest might be the two biggest reasons for the lack of checkouts.
Senior Marilla Burgmeier said she had no idea the library had such a program, but she would be willing to check one out.
“IF they broadcasted what books they had maybe I would read them over Christmas break,” Burgmeier said.
Freshman Emily Jansen checks out books often from the library and has seen the sign advertising the program, but she prefers books.
“I don’t like reading off a screen, I’d rather read from a book,” Jansen said. “I would try one out. I just haven’t ever used one, but I don’t like reading with a screen like that.”
The program began in fall 2009 with five Kindles, and the library added three more in July 2010. Each Kindle is loaded with about 28 unique fiction books. Students and faculty can check one out for three weeks.
Wunrow said he thinks that a variety of factors may be at play in the recent downturn.
“It has its highs and lows maybe in the summer and J-term it’s better, but right now I don’t know if it’s as popular,” Wunrow said. “I don’t know if it has to do with people are just busy, they don’t know about it or if people are getting their own.”
Other local libraries have adopted similar programs. For example, the West 7th Community Branch Library in St. Paul has two Kindles available for checkout. Additionally, patrons who own Kindles can check out electronic books straight to the device.
Lisa Hage, head West 7th librarian, said that libraries must keep innovating to survive.
“If libraries don’t keep up with what everyone in America is doing, we’ll die,” Hage said.
Hage said that there is a constant waiting list for the two Kindles they have available for checkout, and they are loaded with 87 books.
“They have everything from children’s books, to crossword puzzles to dictionaries,” Hage said. “We have bestsellers. We have non-fiction, and we have the Bible.We have just a kind of a mix of a lot of stuff.”
Linda Hulbert, associate director of collection management and services, said that so far, they have not had a lot of requests for anything beyond fiction.
“We respond to what our users ask for if we can,” Hulbert said.
She said students can request items to go on a Kindle.
Although interest is not high right now, Hulbert said that the program has been a success overall.
“They have been checked out 243 times since they were brought into the library,” Hulbert said. “I consider that a rousing success for eight items.”
Tom Graves can be reached at email@example.com.