Borrowing E-Books, With No Late Fees

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Did you find that electronic book reader you always wanted under the Christmas tree?  Well, if you did, or if you've already been reading with a device like the Kindle or iPad, the New York Public Library wants to show you how you can borrow e-books from its collection.

“Every year, right after the holidays, our staff is inundated with calls from people who need help with their brand new e-readers,” said Lauren Lampasone, digital producer from the Library’s Reference and Research Services. “We also saw a spike earlier this year, when our e-books became compatible with Kindles, and people needed help downloading them.”

Anticipating this demand, the NYPL has launched a new online guide with details on how to download its electronic collection, including e-books, music and videos, to most devices.

Electronic library borrowing works much like the traditional way, where users can reserve and renew items online with their library accounts. But the main difference — and perhaps the biggest draw — is that an e-book simply expires at the end of the borrowing period, and there are no returns needed.

That’s right. No late fees.

And starting next week, library goers can also get face-to-face help at two midtown locations.

“This was kind of inspired by Apple’s ‘Genius Bar’,” Lampasone said. “You can walk into an Apple store and get help with your Apple products, and well, you can come into the library and get help reading e-books.”

The NYPL said in 2011 it saw nearly 41,000 unique library patrons utilizing its electronic collection, which offers nearly 50,000 e-books. That’s up from 1,727 patrons and about 6,000 e-books in 2004, when the electronic service began.