Thousands of libraries all over North America issue physical cards that patrons can use to checkout materials at the branch or to use online. In a world of e-readers, smartphones and tablets this is counterproductive and the Harris County Library in Houston Texas has just developed the first digital library card.
The program is dubbed iKnow, doesn’t offer all of the amenities of a full-service library card. It only allows you to borrow audiobooks, e-books, music and video online via Overdrive and can’t be used to check out hard copies of books.
Many people who want to use the library to read books, newspapers and magazines might not live close to a branch and if they do, parents are juggling a job or two. This iKnow program is perfect for the smartphone generation or kids who just want to read. Since the launch on September 1st, over 300 people have registered for a card, including 10 children.
“The goal is more reading,” said Michael Saperstein, multimedia selection librarian with Harris County Public Library. “We really want to reach those residents who we know may not ever come into physical spaces by providing as many options as we can. Whether they’re accessing digitally or physically, they’ll still be using the library.”
I think this iKnow program is very intuitive and makes perfect sense for the digital world we live in. It allows adults and children who live far away from a branch to be able to read e-books on demand and there is no excuses anymore to not read.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.