WELLSBURG - Leaders of the Brooke County Public Library received support from officials with the Mary H. Weir and Ohio County public libraries in making a pitch for funding to provide eBooks to its patrons.
Mary Kay Wallace, director of the Brooke County Library, asked the Brooke County Commission to help it receive eBooks and other digital materials through the West Virginia Digital Entertainment Library Initiative.
WVDELI is a service supported by 11 public libraries in West Virginia, including the Mary H. Weir and Ohio County libraries, which provides downloadable materials, including music and movies as well as books, to patrons.
Wallace said many of the Brooke County Library's patrons have requested eBooks for their Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers. She had considered enrolling in West Virginia R.E.A.D.S. (Regional Electronic Audiovisual Download Service), a similar program.
She said while the cost would be less, WVDELI offers a greater number and variety of materials and by joining it, the Brooke County Library would be compatible with its nearest neighboring libraries.
Wallace said Rik Rekowski, director of the Mary H. Weir Public Library, has convinced the consortium to reduce the Brooke library's fee to participate by 20 percent because the Weirton and Brooke County libraries' service areas overlap in Weirton.
The yearly fee is $13,727, which will drop to $10,000 after the first six years.
Wallace added Rekowski and the Weirton library's board have agreed to make its computer server, software and staff available for the transfer of digital materials, saving the Brooke County Library about $2,500.
Dottie Thomas, director of the Ohio County Public Library, said the amount is higher for new library members in recognition that they are benefiting from the large collection of downloadable materials amassed by the current members since the consortium was formed four years ago.
While libraries in the consortium share their materials, each may decide what materials it purchases with the $10,000, she said.
Thomas said the Ohio County Library in Wheeling circulated 12,998 downloadable items since last year.
"That part of our collection is growing by leaps and bounds," she said.
Thomas added many of the seniors served by the library's bookmobile now have e-readers.
Rekowski said eBooks and other digital materials also attract many new patrons.
"With this commitment, you would be addressing a whole new set of library users who aren't necessarily coming into the buildings," he told the commission.
Carol Churchman, a member of the Brooke library's board, said many Brooke County residents would welcome the new service. She noted a Victorian tea held by the Brooke AARP chapter raised $2,000 to help the library provide eBooks.
Ruth Lewis, the board's president, noted the Friends of the Brooke County Library group provided $3,000 also.
Wallace mentioned the service could make downloadable textbooks available to local college students.
County Commissioner Marty Bartz suggested the library might partner with the Brooke County school board for the effort.
Bartz, who is assistant superintendent of Brooke County Schools, said the cost for books is a rising concern and could be addressed through eBooks. He acknowledged some logistics, such as providing e-readers to students, must be considered, and the school board would have to consider the move.
"I think that availability (of eBooks) for every kid in the county would be something," he said.
Lewis noted the school board spoke recently about how it might spend money from a $661,995 signing fee paid by Chesapeake Energy to drill on school property.
Bartz said refurbishing the library at Brooke High School is one idea being considered by the board.
In other business, the commission:
Heard from Judy Bartz of Windsor Heights, who complained of feral cats in her neighborhood leaving feces on her handicap-accessible ramp. She asked if the county's dog warden can collect them.
The commissioners said the dog warden has been working with Wellsburg city officials to address a cat problem there and should be able to help.
Approved applications for grants for equipment for the mobile command unit being established by the Brooke County Emergency Management Agency and for an engineer to determine the course of a proposed extension of the Brooke County Pioneer Trail from Wellsburg's Yankee Trail to the Panhandle Trail in Colliers.
Area trail leaders have suggested extending the trail through the Cross Creek area.
Ohio Valley Trail Partners, a Wheeling-based group aimed at linking area trails, is applying for the trail grant.
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