OPINION: In San Jose, civic authorities report increased interest in libraries from people wanting to borrow electronic books as mobile devices become more affordable and people discover what they can do.
Downloads from commercial sites must be paid for whereas libraries can provide them at no charge, although many library books still aren't available in electronic form.
Publishers won't make some titles available for libraries or set prohibitive terms.
Many libraries, nevertheless, are busier today than they have been in recent years.
Even in remote locations, they provide citizens with access to information about their communities, their country and on global communications networks.
Modern technologies are expanding the range of downloads available, too.
North Vancouver library cardholders can access thousands of movies, TV shows, audiobooks and music albums absolutely free after Hoopla digital was introduced.
By downloading the free Hoopla app, library members can stream or temporarily download a virtual collection of audio-visual materials on their computers and mobile devices.
The ever-growing Hoopla collection has about 12,000 video titles, 150,000 music albums and 12,000 audiobooks.
There is no wait to borrow titles and no late fees.
The Hamilton City Council is aware of how the modern library has become more than just a place to borrow books.
It recognises that libraries are community hubs, information portals and meeting places, embracing modern information technologies as well as traditional library services.
As technologies evolve, says councillor Andrew King, "so should our libraries service."
But how should they evolve?
Laudably, by inviting the public to say what services are wanted.
King heads a team of staff, councillors and stakeholder representatives that has been set up to examine how the city's libraries can adapt to meet the changing needs of modern communities.
They want to hear from the public until June 18. The aim, King says, is "to deliver a dynamic and world-class libraries service to our growing city".
Those who have not fully grasped the new technologies are not being shut out.
If they prefer to jot down their thoughts, they can pick up a "Love Your Libraries" flier from any of the six Hamilton City Libraries branches.
So go for it and be heard. This is no time for demanding "shush".
People can give feedback by filling out a ''Love Your Libraries'' flier at any of the six Hamilton City Libraries branches or by visiting hamilton.govt.nz/loveyourlibraries.
- Waikato Times