Libraries join international, digital Big Library Read program


For the next two and a half weeks, Warwick Public Library and the rest of the Ocean State Libraries will take part in the international Big Library Read program , which allows all library patrons to borrow a specific e-book title at the same time.

The Big Library Read program sponsored by OverDrive, the e-book provider for all Rhode Island libraries, gives libraries unlimited simultaneous access to an e-book title for a select period of time; this event’s title is the cookbook “Keys to the Kitchen: The Essential Reference for Becoming a More Accomplished, Adventurous Cook” by Food Network star Aida Mollenkamp.

The program began on Monday and the e-book will be available for simultaneous use until March 5; there will also be a live Facebook chat with the author on Feb. 26 from 8 to 9 p.m. as part of the program.

“What’s really cool about this is everyone can read the same e-book at the same time,” said Warwick Reference Librarian Jessica D’Avanza.

D’Avanza added that many people may not realize that borrowing e-books works the same way as if you were borrowing a physical book for the library. Only one digital copy of the title is purchased at a time, and only one person can borrow it at a time.

“We are striving for simultaneous use [for every book],” explained D’Avanza. “But publishers only offer one-at-a-time single use.”

Part of this comes from cost. D’Avanza explained that the library does have 25 Lonely Planet travel guide e-books currently available for simultaneous use, but a year of simultaneous access to those 25 titles costs a few thousand dollars.

“For three weeks of simultaneous access, this is quite a bit of savings,” said D’Avanza, adding that the library does own one digital copy of this cookbook as well.

Participation in the Big Library Read comes at no cost to the libraries.

“The publisher is offering us this for simultaneous use for free to promote this author,” explained D’Avanza.

For reference, D’Avanza said one digital copy of a current bestseller (that can only be borrowed by one patron at a time) costs $85.

This is the third time in the past year that Warwick Public Library and the other Rhode Island libraries have participated in a Big Library Read program; the first was with an adult fiction title in May 2013 and again with a children’s title in September 2013.

“And this is happening all over the world, as long as the library is an OverDrive subscriber,” added D’Avanza.

D’Avanza believes the titles chosen are usually from new and upcoming authors that publishers are trying to promote or are from popular authors trying something new; for example, September’s title was a new children’s book from Jane O’Connor, known for her popular “Fancy Nancy” picture books.

When asked if this type of “digital book club” could become more popular and occur more often, D’Avanza was hopeful it would.

“With e-books, a lot of people are reading these books on different devices and if you’re reading on a bus, no one can see the book cover,” explained D’Avanza. “This is a loss of social conversation that I think people are worried about. If people were to do this monthly, I think it would be successful.”

She added that through this program there are opportunities for conversations on various social media platforms, such as the Facebook chat with Mollenkamp, to provide that social interaction one might get from a normal book club.

Although D’Avanza did not know much about “Keys to the Kitchen,” she is a fan of borrowing cookbooks from the library and believed that the author’s Food Network connection would make it a popular choice.

“It’s a comprehensive manual to cooking,” explained D’Avanza, adding that it covers the basics, including the all-important knife skills needed for proper cooking.

For more information on this month’s Big Library Read, contact the Warwick Library at 739-5440 or stop by the Reference Desk. To participate in the Feb. 26 Facebook chat at 8 p.m. with author Aida Mollenkamp, visit


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