GLOVERSVILLE - On needn't look far to see the way people gather information and knowledge is changing rather quickly.
Books on paper now compete with electronic tablets, laptops have replaced typewriters, CDs and DVDs have replaced tapes, and online databases are replacing many encyclopedias. All of these changes can be seen taking place at local public libraries.
The Gloversville Public Library's use of electronic items has increased over the last year. Circulation of materials including DVDs, books-on-CD, magazines and eBooks rose from 23,373 in 2010-11 to 27,565 for 2011-12, according to the library's annual report.
Johnstown Public Library Director Erica Wing shows the growing DVD collection at the library. (The Leader-Herald/Levi Pascher)
Likewise, the Johnstown Public Library saw an increase of 764 more computer sessions between the years 2007 and 2011, Director Erica Wing said.
Gloversville Public Library Director Barbara Madonna said the library is looking closer at what it already has in print, and it isn't buying as many reference books as it did 20 years ago.
She said students and others in search of information are using electronic databases and the Internet to complete their research.
"They very rarely come in asking for a physical encyclopedia anymore," said Madonna. "We have them still, but we no longer look to replace them as much as we did in the past."
Both the Johnstown and Gloversville libraries have added eBooks through OverDrive, a service that provides electronic books for Kindle, Nook, Sony eReaders, iPads, laptops and other devices.
Madonna said about 90 percent of libraries use this service because it offers the largest collection and best software integration and it supports most of the devices available.
The two libraries are increasing their eBook collections regularly, Madonna and Wing said.
"Our book budget has been static for about five years now, but what we are doing with the money that we have is shifting more to electronic resources," said Madonna. "We have been purchasing less print items and using that money on more DVDs, books-on-CD, eBooks, downloadable audio books, and adding an e-reading device to be circulated."
Each library lets patrons borrow a NOOK Simple, a black-and-white text-only device, which is preloaded with titles and can be taken out for two weeks. The devices were purchased with grant money through the Mohawk Valley Library System.
Both libraries are interested in having children's books added to their NOOKs after several parents made the suggestion.
"This gives patrons a chance to try eBooks before committing to the purchase of their own personal device," Madonna said. "These also allow you to adjust the size of the text, so many of the Baby Boomers will use the device ... it is easier for them to read."
The Johnstown library began lending eBooks in January, and since then it has been second only to the Schenectady County Public Library in electronic circulation among MVLS libraries.
In September, the Johnstown library had an eBook circulation of 277 and has been growing every month. Madonna said the Gloversville Public Library usually comes in third and fourth in its eBook circulation.
"We are really pushing the eBooks as a great option for people," Wind said. "It allows them to check the books out even if they aren't in the library. People can do it from home if they have internet connection."
The Gloversville library was able to purchase an additional computer this spring, and Madonna said she has three computers budgeted for replacement in the fall because they are out of date. Wing said the Johnstown library has no plans to add new computers due to space limitations.
The Gloversville library has 11 total computers available for public use, while Johnstown has nine; both require library cards to be used.
Both libraries offer free Wi-Fi for patrons that bring in their laptops, tablets or other portable devices.
The Gloversville library offers free technology classes each month. This Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., the library will host a "technology zoo," where patrons will be invited to try out different devices such as iPads and Kindles.
Levi Pascher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.