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Hutt City Libraries partnering with Kobo

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

In a new venture, Hutt City Libraries is partnering with KoboBook.com and PaperPlus New Zealand to make reading more accessible to people - a "world first" for Kobo.

From Tuesday 25 June, Hutt City Libraries will be offering Kobo eReaders and the Kobo tablet for sale and later this year, in-library rental. After trialling several tablets, Kobo’s Arc met criteria for speed, battery life, design, ease of use, and price.

One question that constantly vexed the minds of libraries across New Zealand was "How can public libraries offer a new service to their customers while ensuring it’s relevant and sustainable?" With falling revenue from the stalwarts of overdues or rentals, the onus on libraries is to be increasingly savvy about how they optimise their strategic capability while also bringing in revenue to operate.

"We already team up with our local Paper Plus bookshop on a number of author events, so this is a natural extension for both of us", says Libraries’ Manager Sandra Mann.

Kobo’s response to Hutt City Libraries approach in August last year was one of delight. They had been waiting a long time for a library somewhere in the world to trial selling eReaders. The advantage to Hutt City Libraries is collaboration with a well-known and respected brand and one that integrates with the popular Overdrive ebooks.

The Libraries will sell the tablet and accessories as well as having a number available for in-library rental using the free Wi-Fi. Finding a way to add value to the tablets and conscious that people buying a product don’t always want it already pre-filled, even with literary applications and websites, the Libraries have come up with a novel solution.

When buying a tablet, customers will be made aware of the free regular user-education classes across the city that could enable them to make the most of their purchase. Alternatively they can book a one-on-one session with a librarian to have their tablet set up with a range of literary apps and websites; or they could pay a one-off fee and have the Library set up their tablet ready to use.

Staff too, will be using the Kobo Arc as they increase informal reader’s suggestion services across the libraries. Moving to a more mobile customer experience model is part of the Libraries’ implementation of fully automated self-issue and public computing services being rolled out this year.

And what of peoples skills with this technology? The Libraries will run regular sessions on how to get the most from your tablet or eReader and developing a whole range of interactive sessions for class visits, as well as regular childrens, teens and adult programmes. The classes are simply an extension of the popular digital literacy courses the libraries have been running for over 18 months; which include regular eReader and tablet sessions as well as a range of Stepping Up courses.

"We’ve been keen to make class visits and Bookaholics sessions more interactive for a long time," CTeens Team Leader Susan Hills says. "Learning how to look up that author or find quality information effectively is a basic skill all people need."

With another library and Paper Plus already in talks to launch Kobo tablets and eReaders, Hutt City is hoping this initiative will prove a useful model for libraries and local business owners to adopt.

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