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Jodi Schultz

Check it out: e-Books may be available by October at library

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I just missed the techno-generation. The electronic gadgets and devices that my younger siblings can navigate with ease send me running to my teenage daughters for help.

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I can sympathize with those who are hesitant about jumping on the virtual bandwagon and will even agree that there are some drawbacks.

Electronic communication cuts down on face-to- face conversation. The acronyms and lack of punctuation used in text messaging may contribute to poor and incorrect language usage.

However, I'm inclined to believe that today's teens will be able to utilize the instruments of technology, and still learn proper grammar. Think of the text message as a modern form of shorthand. According to Merriam-Webster.com, the first known use of stenography (shorthand) was in 1602. Though different forms of shorthand are still used, they haven't replaced our written language.

In this spirit of optimism, I have embraced some other new technologies and am discovering their merits continually. I have reconnected with high school and college friends through Facebook. I've learned which buttons to push on my girls' mp3 players so I can listen to music while I jog (which makes the jogging so much more tolerable).

I find comfort in knowing that our teenage driver has a cell phone (and trust that she will keep it tucked away while she's driving).

And... I text! (Pause for collective gasp.) I find it a convenient and efficient way to communicate. Most often, I capitalize and use complete sentences. But, there are times when I throw caution to the wind and use abbreviations and partial sentences. I haven't lost my desire or aptitude for "real" conversation, and I haven't forgotten how to write.

What, you may wonder, does all this have to do with e-books? Simply put, it's another case of adapting to new technology and figuring out how to make it work for us. In the past couple years, many library patrons have purchased electronic reading devices and have been asking if and when we can provide e-books.

Up till now, the cost was prohibitive, and the limitations too great. In relation to digital content, libraries are treated differently than individual consumers, often facing higher prices and greater restrictions. We had found one platform that seemed attainable, but the company wasn't able to deliver its services when promised.

Patience and persistence pay, and after much research and discussion, we have found another platform which we think will work well for our library. The Kitchigami regional board has approved the use of part of our materials budget in order to contract with 3M Cloud.

If all goes as planned, you'll be able to check out e-books by October. I believe that as long as I'm able, I'll enjoy sitting down to turn the pages of a real book. But I imagine there are times when using an electronic reader might be nice. I'm excited that soon, we can offer both print and digital lending options.

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