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Library reaching out with online presence

With the number of Kindle, iPad and smart phone users growing, the Halifax County/South Boston Public Library System has been trying to reach out to them by expanding their online presence over the past two years. 

Two years ago the system began using an e-collection system, SOVALUe or Southern Virginia Libraries United electronically. 

It’s available for anyone with a Halifax County/South Boston Public Library card and a PIN number. Persons interested in getting a library card can get one at either library by filling out a form. 

The e-collection features books, audio books and a few music and videos. 

It can be found by going to the library system’s website, On the site, under “Online Services” click on the tab “Downloadable e-Books and Audiobooks.” 

SOVALUe will open in another browser, and before a user can download, he or she will need to click on account to enter their library card and pin number. 

Once the account is signed in, the user can search for their book by type, publisher, subject or format. 

Various formats are available including but not necessarily limited to Kindle, i-Pads, PCs and other book reader devices similar to Kindles. Some devices require an extra app or plug-in to receive the download. 

When a book is selected, it will show the number of copies available, formats available and description. In order to check out the book, click “Borrow.” 

If another user already has the book, they will be given the option to put a hold on the book by providing his or her e-mail address. 

Once the book becomes available, the user on hold will receive an email asking them to return to the website to check out the book. It will not automatically download to a device once it is available. 

The books are available for either seven, 14 or 21 days depending on the book. 

Library Director Jay Stephens said, “One of the best things about the e-books is that if you forget to return your book there is no late fee. If you have reached, let’s say the 14th day, and you haven’t returned it, it will automatically disappear from your device.” 

Users can check out five books at a time. 

Kindle users will have a slightly different process when checking out books. 

When they click on “Borrow,” the Amazon website will open, and if they are not signed in, they will have to sign in to their Amazon account. 

It should then say “Get library book,” meaning the purchase should be free. The Kindle user will then select their Kindle as the destination to deliver the title. 

The book should then be in the Kindle user’s book collection. 

Overall Stephens said in comparison to the number of print users, e-collection user numbers are down. However, he feels numbers will increase as they did at his last job by approximately 25 people per month. 

 “Every Christmas we have people come in with their new Kindle or i-Pad telling us they can read e-books and ask if we offer something similar. I think it may grow gradually and continue to grow,” said Stephens. 

The e-collection was first brought to the library system after patrons began asking for it leaving the staff hopeful that user participation will expand. 

The library system also has a social media presence with their Facebook page, and a Twitter page, 

 “We use them to promote programs and to just let people know what’s going on,” said Stephens. 

Making library cards available online could be something to work on in the future, he added.  

Surrounding areas also participate in SOVALUE including the Danville Public Library and Charlotte County Library.