In November, I had written about my initial experience with the Berlin public libraries. Here’s a bit of an update.
The fee structure I described in the previous post has discouraged me (and the rest of the family) somewhat from using the library.
When there is a fee attached to having a book delivered at the local library, but that library is not big enough to really cater to our different reading likes etc. that is a hurdle to using the library. I think that is unfortunate, because I think that libraries have a secondary task (other than providing lending media), namely to encourage reading and the use of our media, particularly in children and young people. I’m not sure that the fee structure as it exists is doing much for Berlin children and youth to encourage use of the library.
Focusing on Central Libraries
One solution is to focus on borrowing books from a more central, larger library, that means killing several book-birds with a single stone. For that purpose, I’ve been using the Amerika Gedenkbibliothek. That is kind of funny, since that was the go-to library for English assignments when I was a student in high school, but still, it means I can find at least some of the books on my rotating list and return them all to one place without incurring feeds, etc.
An Alternative: eBooks
An alternative that avoids the various fees is eBooks. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of reading novels on screen. Mostly, that’s just nostalgic, i.e. the feel of a book in my hands and the satisfaction of turning pages. So, I don’t own a kindle or any similar device, and have never explored the ebook options in the Vancouver Public Library.
But, given the Berlin fee structures, I’ve discovered library ebooks.
In practice, it works like this: There’s an app that manages my personal “library”. I sign in with my library id and search for titles I’m interested in. The library’s ownership is clearly limited to a certain number of “copies” at a time, so many of the current books (my list of books to read is mostly populated by reading newspaper book reviews) are checked out when I look for them. But if I do find one available, I download it onto my phone (a cell phone, also something I have not used in Vancovuer!). On the phone, I open a reader app. This ad then verifies with the library app that I have checked a book out and lets me read it for 14 days. Despite the small screen size, I do like reading novels this way and it’s awfully convenient to be able to interact with the library entirely electronically! Now if I can only figure out how to “return” my book before the expiry date so that it becomes available to others more quickly, I’ll be very happy.