Nassau Library System is 24th in the world for ebook loans
By Amanda Olsen and Julie Prisco
The Nassau Library System announced that the Nassau Digital Doorway digital book consortium reached a record-breaking 1.9 million digital book checkouts in 2022. For the Nassau Library System, this milestone illustrates the continued growth and importance of library lending of ebooks, audiobooks and other digital media as well as the library’s success in serving all members of the community. The Nassau Library System is ranked 24 of 129 public library systems worldwide. It was also fourth in New York among libraries that surpassed one million checkouts last calendar year.
Nassau Digital Doorway member libraries have been providing readers 24/7 access to ebooks and audiobooks for several years through the award-winning Libby app, the library reading app created by OverDrive. The large collection serves readers of all ages and interests, and usage has grown every year. There are thousands of ebooks and audiobooks, hand-selected by the library system, available for reading. Readers can explore the collection through catalog guides, subjects, featured titles, and curated lists.
Libby allows borrowers to read across devices, because their loans, notes, bookmarks and reading progress are synched. Once a title is selected, patrons can download ebooks and audiobooks for offline reading, or stream them to save space. One of Libby’s best features is audiobooks, which can be played in your car through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or a Bluetooth connection. The app can adjust an ebook’s font size, book layout and lighting; add bookmarks; create notes and highlights; and define words.
“We are thrilled at the continued success of Nassau Digital Doorway and the role it has played in ensuring that our patrons continue to have access to a wide selection of reading material for both pleasure and educational purposes,” said Grace Palmisano, resources and discovery manager at the Nassau Library System.
The Port Washington Public Library is one of the many libraries in the Nassau Library System that has seen their digital download usage increase over the past few years.
“Since March 2020, our digital resource usage has increased incrementally,” said Port Washington Library Director Keith Klang. Libraries had to shut down for safety precautions during the pandemic, as did many public spaces. Although digital download usage had been increasing prior to the pandemic, numbers grew dramatically due to not having access to the physical content in the library.
According to Klang, in the calendar year of 2019, the digital circulation of Ebooks and audiobooks was a little more than 52,000. In the most recent complete calendar year, 2022, the digital circulation increased to 80,000.
Reading digitally has been on the rise for some time. According to the Pew research center, 30 percent of adults say they have read an ebook in 2020. The pandemic seems to have accelerated this already significant trend. In 2021, ebook revenue in the United States reached 1.1 billion U.S. dollars. This figure does not include sales from independent authors. Three newspapers in Alabama recently announced they were going over to a digital-only format, with their print editions increasing production at the end of February. One of the papers, The Birmingham News, has been in print since the late 1800s.
Still, the explosion in digital resources has not dampened enthusiasm for physical books. Just 9 percent of Americans said they only read books in digital formats and did not read any print books.
When asked if there has been a decrease in physical books being taken out from the library, Klang said, “at the beginning of the pandemic, I would have answered absolutely. When we reopened, physical circulation started to pick up again. Fast forward to now, in 2023, I would say we’re way beyond that and starting to see physical circulation go back to pre-pandemic numbers and in some areas, exceed where we were. While at the same time, our digital circulation also continues to climb.”
The highest-circulating title Nassau Digital Doorway readers borrowed in 2022 was The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. The top-circulating genre, thrillers, represents the most popular in a vast catalog that also includes mystery, romance, children/young adult and more.
The Port Washington Library’s children’s materials are one of the most physically circulated at the library. The current numbers for physical circulation of children’s material are higher than pre-pandemic.
“There is some correlation between the increase of children’s material being circulated and our children’s programming,” said Klang. The Port Washington Library offers multiple daily fun and educational children’s programs where kids are encouraged to check out the library content.
“There is a huge demand right now and it’s exciting,” said Klang. “We’re seeing more traditional items still being utilized and then all of the new materials also being utilized and accessed.”
Residents of Nassau County just need a valid library card to access digital books from Nassau Digital Doorway’s OverDrive-powered digital collection. Nassau County residents can look up their home library at www.nassaulibrary.org/librarycard. Readers can use any major device, including Apple, Android, Chromebook and Kindle. Download the Libby app or visit nassau.overdrive.com to get started borrowing e-books and audiobooks anytime, anywhere.