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'Virtual' library offers new resource

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Many people already know that there are five libraries throughout Delta County that make up the Delta County Public Library District. Likely, they know that they can visit any of these five libraries during regular business hours to check out materials. And, they probably are aware that when the due date has arrived, they can return those materials to a drop box at any of the five locations. What they might not know is that there is a sixth library available to library patrons from any location, at any time, as long as an internet connection and computer are available for use.

The online library offered through Delta County Libraries website has been steadily growing over the last 10 years to include over 50 links to a wide variety of resources. These links provide patrons with valid library cards free access to electronic books, audio books and magazines, downloadable music, continuing education classes, foreign language courses, an ancestry library, educational resources and much more. The popularity of these online resources can be seen in the numbers.

During a six-month period from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2016, over 10,000 items were checked out using OverDrive, the online resource that allows patrons to check out electronic materials, like e-books, to their Kindles or other devices. That equates to approximately 55 items per day. During the same time period, there were over 31,000 web sessions on EBSCO, an academic resource, over 12,000 searches in the Ancestry Library and over 1,000 songs downloaded using Freegal Music.

Leah Morris, collections and systems administrator for Delta County Libraries monitors these kinds of statistics and uses the data to evaluate online resources. Recently, at Morris' recommendation, library administrative staff decided to replace an existing resource with a new one. "We are so excited to announce that we now have Britannica Library online," Morris states. Britannica is replacing Grolier, a similar resource, and is already available to library patrons. "After careful comparisons of cost, name recognition, usability, customer service and compatibility with our systems, we decided that Britannica was a better choice for our online library, our budget and our patrons," Morris says.

Britannica Library offers extensive articles, photos, videos and other features in three categories: children, young adult and reference center. Britannica Library is an award-winning resource for children and adults and provides a safe, easy way to find trusted information. With internet safety weighing heavily on the minds of most parents and teachers, having a trusted source for online information is of great value.

And, the cost savings associated with the transition are also of great value, especially with the 2017 fiscal year approaching. "We will literally save thousands of dollars while still offering a resource that will reach the same audience that Grolier has reached," Lea Hart, district director for Delta County Libraries says. "We even anticipate that Britannica will be a more popular resource over time."

There will be several other changes to the online library as a direct result of budget considerations for 2017. "We expect to make a few other budget-saving changes to our electronic resources in the near future, providing some great new options and saving money," Morris states.

Britannica Library, along with all of the other resources available through the online library, can be accessed through the Delta County Libraries website at http://www.deltalibraries.org/databases/

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