If Howard County residents would like to check out an e-reader from the library system, they will have to take a spot in line behind more than 500 others.
Although the program is only , Howard County Library System officials say they plan to add more e-readers in light of the burgeoning demand.
In December, county libraries began checking out 60 Nook e-readers, manufactured by Barnes & Noble, and readers now have a choice of more than 15,000 downloadable titles.
“Some library systems have opted not to buy them, but we believe customers should have an equal opportunity to experience an e-reader,” said Chief Executive Officer Valerie Gross.
The use of e-readers appears to be exploding, according to the Pew Internet and Life Project, which reported the number of adults in the United States with e-readers doubled from 6 to 12 percent between November 2010 and May 2011.
Pauline Peightel of Catonsville bought her Nook e-reader about a year ago. She said that she is able to read books faster in electronic form.
“I like the convenience of being able to carry this and the convenience of being able to buy a new book instantly,” said Peightel, who was reading with a Nook Sunday at Barnes & Noble in Ellicott City.
Library systems across the county are offering or expanding the number of e-readers available to loan, including branches in St. Paul, MN, Rockford, IL and Seattle. The Howard County library was to loan out Nooks, starting in October.
Gross said she hopes the program can expand with a dozen more e-readers within the next few months.
But the growing number of people with their own e-readers and tablets can also explore the HCLS database of more than 15,000 titles and 13,000 downloadable audiobooks.
Gross said many people try out the e-reader in order to make a future purchasing decision.
“A lot of people like the e-reader format more than they thought they would have,” Gross said, adding that many “went right back to putting their name on the list.”
She also encourages older people and anyone wary of the technology to test out the e-reader.
HCLS will teach several classes on e-readers at various branches in the fall and members are encouraged to bring their own e-readers, like the Kindle, and various iPad and Android tablets.