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Kindles come to library

<i>Debbie Griffin photo</i> Library Director Nancy Miller shows a Kindle digital-reading device, which the public library will soon have available for check out.

Avid readers will soon gain another option for consuming story texts they like. The public library has ordered six Kindles, which are hand held, portable, electronic devices that enable users to read books on a six-inch screen.

Library Director Nancy Miller said the Kindles were ordered early last week. They should arrive in a few weeks. Once here, people can borrow them for up to 14 days.

The Kindle holds up to 3,500 books and documents at once. It weighs 8.5 ounces, is a third of an inch thick and has a carrying case. The screen displays text that looks like the page of a book.

Miller said the devices cost $139 each. The library can pay one price to download a book to all six of its devices. For example, a best seller might cost $9.99 to download while a hard-copy version of the same book might cost $25.99.

Readers must select books available through Amazon. Any works in the public domain, on which the copyright has expired, are free to download.

So what will the library load onto the Kindles for people to read?

"We'll try to have the things that people are really requesting," said Miller, "the things that have tons of holds on them."

The director said she still prefers hard-copy books best but ordered a personal Kindle to take on a vacation for which she needed to pack lightly.

She said she enjoys the Kindle's get-it-now capability as well as the adjustable font size and how the device re-opens the book to where she left off.

Miller said the library researched digital-reading devices before it ordered the Kindles, which proved to be the most user friendly and dominant brand for sale.

She checked with other libraries, including those in Altoona and Menomonie, which already loan Kindles to their patrons.

"I know they've been doing well in Menomonie," said Miller.

She said Menomonie library started with two then got six and now has 12 Kindles.

In River Falls, users will leave a $50 deposit -- either cash or a check -- that will be returned to them when they bring back the Kindle.

Miller said the library will not keep a waiting list. The devices will be loaned on a first-come first-served basis.

She said the library also ordered a super-simple flip-camera recorder that people will soon be able to borrow. Miller thinks the library may also use the recorder to tape videos for use on the Intenet.

When asked if she thinks the Kindles threaten library business in any way, the director says she has few concerns. After all, they give people a reason to come into the building.

Miller said, "People like to read, and we're just providing another outlet for that."