By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
Slick and simple, it adds nearly 2,000 titles available as e-books for users of Sno-Isle Libraries. It’s the 3M Cloud Library, and Sno-Isle is the first library system in the state and the Northwest to offer it.
At the Lynnwood Library on Tuesday, Jim McCluskey entered his Sno-Isle library card number and a PIN number on the screen of a Discovery Station, a demonstration site for the 3M Cloud system. He chose a category, “Pacific Northwest fiction,” and picked out a J.A. Jance mystery, “Without Due Process.”
With a touch of the screen, he had checked the book out for 17 days. “And you can do it from home,” he said.
McCluskey is the collection development assistant manager for Sno-Isle Libraries. Tuesday’s lesson was a repeat of a public demonstration of the 3M Cloud system held last Thursday at the Lynnwood Library. Nearly 60 people showed up. “The lobby was packed full,” McCluskey said.
What he demonstrated on the library screen is how the system looks to users who download a 3M Cloud Library application. “This is an app-driven service,” he said.
Titles available on 3M Cloud Library aren’t the only e-books Sno-Isle offers. The regional library system will keep using its e-book system called OverDrive. “We’ve had OverDrive longer, and have about 22,000 titles,” McCluskey said.
Deborah Tahara, a Sno-Isle Libraries marketing specialist, said the difference with the 3M Cloud Library is simplicity. It takes far fewer steps than with OverDrive for readers to browse and check out e-books.
“It’s synchronized with our catalogue. This is ground-breaking stuff,” McCluskey said.
The 3M Cloud Library is integrated with Sno-Isle’s Polaris Integrated Library System. Polaris allows Sno-Isle users to manage their library accounts, place requests, keep reading lists, and conduct other functions online.
At last week’s introduction, 3M Cloud Library Systems business manager Matt Tempelis said the technology was created “with ease of use in mind.” Yet as with any new technology, there are drawbacks.
While OverDrive e-books can be downloaded to a PC, iPad, Kindle or other device, the 3M Cloud Library’s e-books are not compatible with Kindle e-readers. The new system’s e-books can be read on a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Nook tablets, Android devices, smartphones, and Kobo, Sony and Nook e-readers.
“We currently don’t support Kindle,” said Connie Thompson, communication manager for 3M. “That doesn’t mean that in the future we won’t, but right now they don’t support the 3M Cloud Library.” The Kindle is an Amazon product.
Older Kindle e-readers don’t work with 3M Cloud Library, McCluskey said, but 3M is compatible with the Kindle Fire because that tablet uses the Android operating system. However, he said, “it isn’t as seamless a user experience” with a Kindle Fire.
Compatibility with Kindles, he said, is one of several reasons Sno-Isle will keep OverDrive e-books.
Beyond ease of use, e-book availability is an advantage with 3M Cloud Library. Jeanne Crisp, Sno-Isle’s technical services and facilities director, said last week that “3M has been able to work some deals with publishers to give us content that we haven’t been able to get in the past.”
In less than a year, 3M Cloud Library has been launched in 1,000 libraries, Thompson said. Sno-Isle Libraries are the first in Washington to use it, and the first library system in the Northwest to “go live with 3M,” McCluskey said.
This year, the only cost to Sno-Isle are the e-books themselves. In future years, McCluskey said, the library will pay a hosting fee to 3M.
A 2011 survey found that readers weren’t making great use of e-books offered by libraries.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet &American Life Project study, which surveyed about 3,000 people in November and December 2011, found that just 12 percent of e-book users had downloaded text from a library over the previous year. An Associated Press article about the survey said another Pew study found that about 20 percent of adults had recently read an e-book.
Considering how popular tablets and other devices have become, those numbers are sure to rise. At last week’s Sno-Isle introduction, seniors and kids alike wanted a peek at 3M Cloud Library.
“I’ll tell you, demand for e-books just keeps growing,” said Kendra Trachta, deputy director of Sno-Isle Libraries.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lynnwood Library, at 19200 44th Ave. W, has a 3M Cloud Library Discovery Station to show how the system works.