Trading page turns for button pushes, library rents Kindles

Toting 80-90 e-books on each, five Kindles are available for rent through the library. (Rebecca Omastiak/TommieMedia)
Toting 80-90 e-books on each, five Kindles are available for rent through the library. (Rebecca Omastiak/TommieMedia)

The O’Shaughnessy-Frey and Ireland library staff is embracing new technology with the recent addition of five Kindles available for students, faculty and staff to check out.

Students are already buzzing about the Kindles as new additions to the libraries’ resources. Sophomore Teddy Keyport, who already owns a Kindle, is interested in the books available to students on the Kindles.

“I can use [mine] for textbooks but only certain ones,” he said.

Keyport uses a Kindle because it is easy to switch between books.

“I don’t even have to get up. It’s really convenient,” he said.

The library staff made the decision to purchase Kindles for the St. Thomas community to keep up with technological advances.

“There has been this huge migration of content from printed books to online sources,” said John Heintz, associate director for digital initiatives. “So when we saw the Kindles come out, we basically said, OK, this seems like a part of that shift,’ and [a Kindle] was another way for us to experiment with getting content to users in a way that they might like to engage with it.”

Circulation Manager Conie Borchardt attributes the decision to start this program to an interest in new media options.

“The more technology-savvy, mobile-savvy we’ve gotten, the more people are interested in things like this,” Borchardt said. “With the Amazon Kindle, it had such good buzz that we decided, ‘Let’s just try it out.’ It’s very much a trial for us.”

A trial that has shown early success. All five Kindles are currently checked out, and several students are on the waitlist.

Why choose Kindles over other options?

With several new e-book readers available, one may wonder why the library chose the Kindle.

“That’s the scary part about the whole experiment,” said Linda Hulbert, associate director of collection management and services. “Why not Sony reader? Why not the Nook from Barnes and Noble? Why not iPad? I think the reason for not doing the iPad, but I won’t rule it out, is that we just want a book reader.”

According to Heintz, the simple function of the Kindle is what sets it apart from other options.

“The iPad is really optimized for the Web,” he said. “The Kindle is primarily an e-book reader, and that’s really what we were interested in. It wasn’t technology for technology’s sake. It was book content in an electronic format that we wanted to experiment with.”

With the library’s new Kindle program already receiving positive feedback, library staff members are interested to see how word will spread and if the program continues to develop.

“We’re really excited to have these here and eager to hear what people’s experiences with them are,” Heintz said.

Check out policies, late fees and subject matter

The Kindles may be checked out for six weeks if there is no waiting list, and students may have the Kindle for at least two weeks if there is a waiting list.

The Kindles are free for students and staff to check out, but if the Kindle is returned late, the individual is charged $5 per day past the return date and an automatic $315 replacement charge after the Kindle is 16 days past due.

A list of about 80 to 90 current titles are on the Kindles (textbooks are not included). Information about library policy concerning use, check out and how to request a title is available on the library Web site.

While the Kindles’ content is not organized based on subject, individuals may choose a Kindle based on the titles that interest them. The Kindles include current titles such as “What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures” by Malcolm Gladwell and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.

Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at

2 Replies to “Trading page turns for button pushes, library rents Kindles”

  1. I am very, very disappointed in my alma mater. Instead of encouraging students to cuddle up with a book in the stacks and exercise their imaginations and broaden their horizons by consulting the seasoned volumes that occupy the shelves of its libraries, St. Thomas bas chosen to purchase glorified minicomputers that are far inferior to books and, like all electronics, are fragile and will be rendered obsolete after five years.
    I have no problem with online research databases, but books have always and will always occupy a special place in my heart, and looking at books on the computer screen will never be the same as curling up on a couch or bed reading a novel that gives insights to the human condition that nothing else can. There’s more to the experience of reading than just reading text on a screen. There’s the feel of the cover, the smell of the musty pages, the joy of turning the pages, the whole experience of reading that no technology can ever replicate. To quote a Styx song “The problem’s plain to see: too much technology. Machines to save our lives, machines dehumanize”. Truer words were never spoken.

  2. Not so special is the fact that an estimated 10 million trees are cut down each day for paper. Go kindle.

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