Library help desk assists confused e-readers

    If you need help figuring out the new Kindle or iPad you just got for Christmas, there’s a help desk for that.

    The Free Library of Philadelphia has set up its first post-holiday tech table to assist patrons with the new devices they don’t know how to use.

    Chaka Moore saw the very first person who got in line on the day after Christmas.

    “She was getting ready to leave the country on a plane and she wanted to read some really good books.”

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    Moore helped her set up her Kindle – an e-reader sold by – to download library books. The library “lends out” ebooks to library users. It has a limited number of licenses, so you still have to wait your turn, but you can call the books right up on your device of choice.

    “Would we force someone to download an e-book?” muses help desk staffer Dan Shiffner.

    “No,” he allows. “We’d be happy to help someone out just navigating their new device.”

    However e-books represent a small but growing sector of the library’s main business of book-lending.

    The Pew Research Center just released numbers showing that a third of Americans have tablets or e-readers while a quarter read e-books. The number of library users borrowing e-books went from 3 percent last year to 5 percent this year.

    The rest of the library’s patrons still go the more traditional route.

    A woman walks up to the help desk.

    “I’m just looking for a book,” she says. “And I have no idea where to find it.”

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