Today's kids might one day access most of their books with eReaders

The eBook in the phone booth

There was a moment in which generations collided in the library recently. It happened during one of our Summer Reading Club events.

There was a moment in which generations collided in the library recently. It happened during one of our wildly popular Summer Reading Club events. I heard the impact from my desk on the second floor, a sort of sigh. It said: how did we get so old?

It was a Superhero Costume Party, and SRC coordinators Marianna and Bronwyn had constructed a red cardboard telephone booth from which our small superheroes would emerge, ready to leap tall buildings and save the world. And one kid was heard to say: “what’s a telephone booth?”

Ouch.

I can say with some assurance that there won’t be a kid in the foreseeable future who will say: “what’s a book?” But there may be one for whom eBooks — like cell phones —dominate the reading landscape.

Preparing for that distant eventuality means embracing eReaders now, and not just so as to feel younger and more savvy. eReaders could be considered the superheros of Planet Book, in the best possible way.

Beginning next week, the library will have two kinds of eReaders, the Kobo Glo and the Sony PRS-T2, for patrons to borrow. These are compatible with Library-to-Go, so you can borrow library eBooks with your borrowed eReader.

eReaders offer another way to enjoy a book, with everything you love about the paper-and-pasteboard

version still intact (virtual page-turning on the touch screen mimics the real thing, and yes, you can bookmark!) and even enhanced.

With an eReader you can instantly look up a word on a built-in dictionary, or translate text (¿Qué te parece este libro?). You can highlight and make notes (can’t do that with a library book!) or adjust the typeface or type size.

eReaders such as the Kobo Glo allow you to read in low light levels — way easier than under the covers with a flashlight — and sort the books you have on a virtual bookshelf, which is a good thing when you consider these pocket-sized devices can store 1,000 books. (Who has time to read a thousand books?)

Luckily, the battery life on eReaders has improved vastly: Kobo’s battery can last a month. And for those who are savvy enough to have all the devices, these wireless eReaders can sync with your computer, tablet, or phone — which means when you bookmark your page, you’re bookmarked everywhere!

You don’t have to wait for the library to open to borrow your eBook. If you want to borrow Murder in the Library at 2 a.m. you can — much safer than calling your librarian at that hour. The whodunit that involves Ms. Patron in the Home Office with the Kobo has yet to be written.

The collision of generations seldom results in injury, but it can be uncomfortable. We’re here to help navigate this brave new landscape, whether it’s on one of our eReaders or your own. You can book a session (contact Heather at 250-352-6333 or library(at)nelson.ca) to learn how to download library eBooks, audiobooks, or access digital magazines and other online wonders with Superhero Librarians able to leap … okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration; able to help. And that’s a nice, gentle impact that sounds like: Wow! I didn’t know it could be so easy!

Try to find a phone booth these days. Tough to do. Try to find a book? It’s now even easier. It doesn’t take a superhero; it just takes a booklover.

Anne DeGrace is the adult services coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Her column runs every other Friday.