May 4, 2005 - Today the libraries of the SAILS Library Consortium became the first in Massachusetts to offer their patrons an online digital library that provides immediate access to eBook and eAudiobook titles. The online collection is available from home at http://sails.lib.overdrive.com, or through the local library's website. Residents from all 39 communities and students and faculty of the Bristol Community College have access to this service. According to Deborah K. Conrad, Executive Director, SAILS, "Digital audio books are the next step in library services. The number of people using portable devices such as Smartphones and PDAs is growing exponentially--and now our libraries are here to serve them. The libraries in SAILS have been working cooperatively for 10 years to provide their patrons with a large variety of print and nonprint materials. Developing this collection as a group allows all the libraries to provide the latest technology to their patrons in the most cost-effective manner."
The portable digital format of eBooks and eAudiobooks offers countless advantages for business travelers and students. It's a valuable tool for those learning to read and gives the visually impaired even greater access to materials. Users also find the fact that there is no need to return items extremely convenient; when the loan period is over the file expires and the materials are automatically checked back in. Carole Julius, Director of Carver Public Library, said, "Access couldn't be easier. Using existing library cards, library users can check out and download a variety of popular fiction, self-help, business, and reference titles and read them on their phones or Pocket PCs, or listen to them on their MP3 players or PCs. It's incredible."
Though SAILS libraries are the first in Massachusetts, similar digital libraries are now in use by other library systems, like Seattle's King County Library System and the San Jose Public Library. OverDrive, Inc., a leading worldwide digital media vendor, developed the technology and supplies eBook and audio titles to SAILS's new digital library. SAILS is a consortium of libraries in Southeastern Massachusetts, developed to improve services for all its member libraries. The OverDrive service is supported by a grant from the Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Library System.