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Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 11:00 am

LEAD — A real page turner can now be termed a real screen burner. A major technologically-driven paradigm shift in the public access of reading material has officially made its way into the mainstream in Lead.

Students at Lead-Deadwood High School now have access to around 40 new books — but they won't ever hit the shelves.

Patrons at the Pheobe Apperson Hearst Free Library in Lead now have access to a new pool of thousands of books, but director Cyndie Harlan doesn't have to worry about freeing up shelf space, either.

The e-book craze that's sweeping the nation has made its mark in the Northern Hills, cropping up on e-reader and computer screens everywhere.

Lead-Deadwood students can now access titles through their school laptops, home computers or e-readers and can check out one title at a time for a three week period.

“There are no lost books and students can read online or download their choices,” said Lead-Deadwood Schools librarian Gary Linn, pointing to his computer screen which shows a list of e-book titles kids have to choose from. “It's easier for kids to read on here because they don't even have to go to the library to check it out. Anything we can do to interest kids to read more, I mean, look around, they're all reading things on their phones and Ipods. It might as well be a book. This format is a win-win for the public library and us.”

Library director Cyndie Harlan said that their decision to add e-books as an option at the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Library in Lead was driven by post-Christmas purchase demand. Prior to that, they really didn't feel many people would be interested.

“I think a lot of people got e-readers for Christmas and we started having so many requests for them, we decided to join the state consortium,” Harlan said.

The statewide consortium, located by Googling “South Dakota titles to go,” which brings up sd.lib.overdrive.com, is the gateway to thousands of books for all ages available for free check-out to anyone with an active Hearst library card.

Eager to meet public demand for e-books, the library board decided to make the $1,500 venture for 2012, taking half the money out of the existing book budget and adding the other half to the 2012 budget.

“We're finding that so many people use it, it's really been cost-effective,” Harlan said.

Check-out options are for one, two and three weeks, with approaching deadlines being announced via e-mail to patrons.

“We're very excited to be able to check out e-books as opposed to

purchasing them,” Harlan said. “So far, it's going very, very well.”

For the Lead-Deadwood school library, titles cost between $10 and $30 to purchase, with new titles being added every month or so and Linn said he recently put in a capital request to purchase 15 Kindles for use at the middle school. Students can read their choices online or download them to their computer equipment.

The Hearst Library has one Kindle Fire that they use to practice on and to teach patrons how to access the statewide consortium.

“We're happy to help anyone learn,” Harlan said. “They can either stop by and we'll show them or they can call the library at 584-2013 and we'll walk them through it. There are books for all ages and all genres.”

Linn was teaching student David Alley the e-book access process during this interview. Alley said that although he had never downloaded or purchased an e-book before, he was interested in reading short stories and different languages via e-books and thought it would add convenience, having the book with him at all times without having to carry it around in addition to other electronic equipment.

Linn, a member of the Hearst Library board of directors, is one of the people Harlan spoke of who received an e-reader for Christmas. Difficult as it may seem for a 25-year veteran librarian to make the paradigm shift of a lifetime, Linn latched on to his Kindle Fire more readily than he would have ever dreamed.

“Believe me, it took awhile to get used to and to accept that,” Linn said. “But you still need a librarian around to facilitate the learning process and show kids how to use it.”

Currently, the Deadwood Public Library does not offer e-titles.

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