Electronic lending is gaining popularity in libraries

Electronic lending is gaining popularity in libraries
Electronic lending is gaining popularity in libraries

(Montreal) The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a craze for electronic lending in public libraries in Quebec.

Posted on October 17, 2020 at 4:14 p.m.

Vicky Fragasso-Marquis
The Canadian Press

Although it is still possible to physically rent books in the red zone, more and more readers are opting for digital lending, according to data released on the occasion of Public Library Week.

During lockdown (March to June) digital loans jumped 117%, while the number of users grew 175%. In children’s books, digital loans have exploded by 482%.

Libraries have also increased their acquisition of digital books by 134%.

The Association of Public Libraries of Quebec (ABPQ) collected this data by conducting surveys of its members.

In an interview, the president of the ABPQ, Denis Chouinard, argued that several subscribers had discovered this service during the confinement period.

One can think that when returning to normal, the digital book will remain more popular than it was before.

Denis Chouinard, President of the Association of Public Libraries of Quebec

Printed books still form the majority of library collections, but “digital technology has gained ground” and allows readers to complement each other, underlines Mr. Chouinard.

“A lot of times it’s a mixed use,” he said, adding that some people preferred digital for transit travel and print for reading at home.

With the pandemic, many library activities have migrated online, including story time – at heureduconte.ca, children can watch recorded and live tales, or listen to them via podcast.

Sustainable practices?

According to Mr. Chouinard, some practices adopted during confinement will remain during the return to normal, but libraries will remain an important place of socialization for the population.

“It’s a place where people like to meet, they will come for activities or events, conferences,” he explained.

“At the moment, that aspect is not possible. ”

But the pandemic may allow more flexibility in the future.

Mr. Chouinard gives the example of a book club, which will meet most of the time in person at the library, but which could, for example, hold an online meeting when the weather is not nice.

I think we have to see it as a system that allows us at the moment to be of service to our users, to remain present; it will remain in part afterwards, but the library will once again become a place of life as it was before.

Denis Chouinard, President of the Association of Public Libraries of Quebec

Moreover, the activities of the 22e Quebec Public Library Week will take place largely online. This year, the organizers are offering games, tales and meetings with authors in several regions of Quebec.

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