Live-brary.com, the digital branch of the 56 public libraries of Suffolk County, New York, experienced a surge in use by the county's 1 million library patrons over the course of 2011. Launched in the fall of 2010, the one-stop Internet portal allows county cardholders to access all of the free online resources available to them, including checkout of downloadable books, music and movies; live tutoring assistance K-12; newspapers, magazines, and genealogy archives; Live-brary for kids; language programs and more.
A year ago we averaged 620 checkouts a day from Live-brary.com and now the average is 1,000 a day, said Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS) Director Kevin Verbesey. In the aftermath of the holidays when many received iPads, Kindles and Nooks as gifts, we saw an incredible spike - more than 1,860 Live-brary.com checkouts per day over a nine-day period.
Of the 2011 top 10 downloads, The Help was the most popular eBook and The Hunger Games was the most popular audiobook. Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the second most popular title to be borrowed in both downloadable modes, with the other titles in his three-book series also making the top 10 list of eBooks borrowed.
According to SCLS Administrator for Member Services Diane Eidelman, "Live-brary.com is popular with young adult cardholders ages 9-16 and sci-fi / fantasy fans. Suzanne Collin's trilogy - Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay - all appeared on the 2011 top ten list of downloads.
On the top 10 list of audiobooks were personal memoirs and reminiscences, including Betty White's If You Ask Me, Todd Burpo's Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, and Tina Fey's Bossypants.
Downloading from Live-brary.com is highly popular with book groups as many readers of a single title can be accommodated since multiple copies are available, observed Verbesey. On the 2011 top 10 list of book group favorites were Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult and "Cutting for Stone, the epic by Ethiopian born medical doctor and author Abraham Verghese.
Popular suspense writers James Patterson and Dean Koontz also had titles in the 2011 top 10 list for audiobooks checked out at Live-brary.com.
Suffolk County public libraries are in the vanguard of making preparations to adjust and deliver services keyed to new technologies, added Verbesey. However, in light of publisher constraints on available titles for download and that library systems are faced with the prospect of state budget cuts, we're struggling to keep up with the public's demand for new content accessible through Live-brary.com.
Year-end stats also reveal that the public's usage of Live Study Help has doubled since the library program was introduced in 2009. In 2011, 40,762 users availed themselves of the service via Live-bray.com, attracted, in part, by a public awareness campaign and a 2011 upgrade to the program's delivery system. Real time tutors provide academic, writing, and test preparation assistance Monday through Sunday from 2 to 11 p.m., excluding some holidays. Tutors also offer assistance in prepping for PSAT/SAT, ACT, AP and state standardized tests. A 24-hour Writing Lab allows students to submit essays and other forms of writing for constructive feedback in as little as one day.
ABOUT LIVE-BRARY.COM: In 2010, the local public libraries of Suffolk County, NY came together to launch the digital branch, Live-brary.com, providing the county's one million patrons a selection of free online resources, including live homework help and downloadable eBooks, audio books, movies and music. In 2011, Live-brary For Kids (to age 10) was added.