E-book lending by Bucks libraries will go ‘through the roof’ in the near future – but library buildings will survive as community hubs. That is the view of David Jones, who runs the library service in Bucks.
Currently e-books –digital copies that can be read on devices such as the Kindle – account for only a small proportion of total library lending.
Members can download them from the web using the pin on their library card.
Mr Jones said: “There is an issue with licencing on the Kindle which needs resolving but it will go through the roof.
“We were a bit late to start but within a year our figures doubled to 20,000 issues.
“By diversifying we are attracting new members as well as satisfying existing members.”
He admitted that a big increase in e-lending does ‘beg questions’ about the need for physical library buildings.
But he said libraries now act as a hub for IT training, community information and socialising:
“The most powerful attraction of libraries is their power as a space.
“They are an appropriate community setting offering free material, they’re welcoming and safe, with skilled staff to help you access information using technology. There are not many places like that.”
He said government services becoming online-only in 2015 gives libraries a major role in training people in IT skills.
“The traditional role of the library is the free provision of information.
“That remains but the medium is changing.”