Released: June 22, 2012

Libraries target growing e-book audience

Most U.S. libraries lend e-books, but most people don’t know about it: Only 22 percent realize the fast-growing digital format is available, according to a new survey. And even fewer people — 12 percent of e-book readers — have borrowed an e-book from the library in the past year, according to a poll released today by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

“I’m a little surprised,” Patrick Wall, director of the University City Public Library, said Thursday when told about the survey.

“Libraries are all trying to educate patrons.”

The St. Louis Public Library has hundreds of requests for e-books every month, said Barb Knotts, manager for electronic collections.

In just the past 18-24 months, she said, e-book lending has surpassed the demand for audiobooks. Library card holders don’t even have to go to the library to check out an e-book. Most systems allow patrons to download e-books from the library’s website.

“It takes time to build any audience,” Knotts said. “Libraries are now using social media to alert people about new titles.”

The Pew survey delves into the tangle of issues libraries face with the evolving e-book world.

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