E-books liven up libraries


Felicity Knabenbauer

A collage of pages from books to celebrate National library lovers month.

Felicity Knabenbauer, Lifestyle Editor

During the age of television there was a present fear that books had no longer become the mainstream entertainment source among young people. This fear has only solidified itself over the decades as it is easy to see that, not only has television become the number one source of entertainment for young people but essentially all other generations alive today. While the sixty years old and older population reads on average around 15 books a year, that is still only three more than the average person reads in general. This number is deemed small considering that at an average reading speed, it should take around five hours or less to finish the common novel. 

Fortunately, over the past few years there has been a growing community cultivating online known as “BookTok.” Just one of many sides of the video app TikTok, “BookTok” focuses on the reading, reviewing and discussions of young adult novels with others who are in the same age range as themselves. While Amazon remains a popular way to receive their books, local libraries are also seeing a boost in memberships to their ebooks sections on their websites. Irvin L. Young Memorial Library in Whitewater has followed suit on this trend as well as hundreds of other libraries across the country.

“We have definitely seen an increase in people signing up for library cards and one thing statewide we’ve seen is a huge increase in e-book lending and so we see a lot more people accessing things online. Our library in particular has two different ways to access e-books and audio books. We do use Libby which is a statewide tool that is paid for through a grant that allows all the libraries in the state to access e-books and audio books online. Our library is also a part of the Bridges library system and our system has access to HOOPLA. HOOPLA does e-books, audio books and graphic novels but it also has a streaming service so you can put the app on your device. I have a Roku so I have it on my Roku and you can stream movies and whatnot. You are limited to four checkouts per month  but it is free and it’s something you can get with a library card,” said Youth education services librarian Deana Rolfsmeyer.

The librarians at the Whiteater library work hard to ensure that the books being shelved are up to date and trendy with the times. While the library does see a few young adults every day, Rolfsmeyer would definitely like to see more as time goes on. No matter the number however, the librarians will continue to scour the internet in search of the best content for their readers who frequent the environment.

“In my collection, I order from pretty much up to the YA collection. What we would consider books for middle school, high schoolers and a little bit above that.  I place orders about once a month right now with the budget that I have and I use a variety of different sources to do that. Everything from blogs like book riot, trade journals like school library journals. I have picked up a few things on TikTok and on Wattpad. Staci Lunsford, who works in the adult section, orders a bit more frequently than that. She’s pretty good at having a lot of the newer releases. Things that come out every Tuesday on pre-order. So she has smaller amounts coming in pretty regularly,” said Rolfsmeyer.

There are a number of young adult authors to become addicted to. All it takes is a little bit of searching to find your next favorite author. They may be fantasy writers or history writers. Possibly even sci-fi or horror young adult novelists who would strike your fancy. Rolfsmeyer shared some of her favorites.

“I am very partial to young adult fantasy. I do particularly like Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir are probably two of my absolute favorites. A lot of the middle grade and young adult historical fiction is also really good. They focus on bits of history that I don’t think you typically see covered. Ruta Sepetys is one author whose most famous known title is called “Between shades of Grey,” that was about World War 2 and how Russia basically took a lot of people out of the Baltic states and sent them to Siberia and what happened to those who survived that. That exodus is not something that is talked about very often. I just finished one by Stacy Lee called “Luck of the Titanic” and she wrote it from a Chinese American perspective on a fictional story about Chinese passengers on the Titanic and that was really interesting,” said Rolfsmeyer.

Things have really slowed down since the beginning of the pandemic. They have only just now begun to start up once again. The same thing can be said for Irvin L. Young Memorial library who are just recently getting back into the swing of things.

“Pre-pandemic, our librarian was doing a lot of outreach at the college and was doing a lot of young adult programming. Of course the pandemic hit and everything kind of just got thrown out. We have a new librarian starting on the twenty eighth so hopefully we will see more of that again,” said Rolfsmeyer.

Considering that there have been discussions on whether or not libraries will survive this new age of digital media, E-books and budget cuts, this sudden interest and new technological upkeep has made it so libraries are not just a thing of the past but something to continue to fund and look towards for some of the oldest and best entertainment the word has to offer: books.