To start off the year, the Nassau Library System announced that the Nassau Digital Doorway achieved a record-breaking one million digital book checkouts in 2019. This is a significant milestone for the digital book consortium, which has grown since 2007 to include 52 Nassau public libraries. This accomplishment illustrates the continued growth and importance of digital books, along with the creative ways libraries have served their communities with digital services.
The Nassau Library System is one of 73 systems around the world, including standalone libraries and consortia, which surpassed one million checkouts through Rakuten OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform, and its award-winning app, Libby.
Nicole Scherer, assistant director of Nassau Digital Doorway, discussed the consortium’s excitement at the milestone.
“We are thrilled at the success that Nassau Digital Doorway has found in the ten-plus years since it has been introduced to our reading public,” Scherer said. “With this most recent milestone of a million checkouts in a single calendar year, the 43,000 Nassau residents who use the service regularly have proven that library access to e-books is essential.”
Nassau Digital Doorway libraries have been providing readers 24/7 access to e-books and audiobooks for several years. Reader interest and usage have grown every year, reflecting popular trends and interests both locally and across the country. Now, as staying home has become crucial in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the importance of these services is more apparent than ever.
Grace Palmisano, the Nassau Library System’s training and digital resources specialist, explained how these changes have played out and led to their recent achievement.
“For more than 10 years now, our program has been in place,” Palmisano said. “It started as a very small collection including a small group of libraries, with definite limitations, and it’s been growing ever since. The fact that we’ve reached this million mark is just a testament to how much it has grown.”
While Palmisano was thrilled with the record, she explained that the program’s remarkable growth is an inevitable part of a constantly changing and increasingly digital world.
“The evolving role of technology in our habits has changed everything,” Palmisano said. “While people still love their physical items and there will absolutely always be a place for that, everything is now moving in the direction of digital. It’s so easy to actually take advantage of it now. The digital products are available 24/7—in a society where we are constantly on the move, working late, working extra hours, just dealing with personal issues that take up a lot of time—it’s very nice that, whenever you want, you can just go online, download the book and you’re done.”
In 2019, the highest-circulating title across both formats Nassau Digital Doorway readers borrowed through OverDrive was Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The top-circulating genre, thrillers, represents the most popular in a vast catalog that also includes mystery, romance and children/young adult.
Named one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the 2010s and one of PCMag’s Best Free Software of 2019, Libby is the app used by Nassau Digital Doorway to seamlessly connect users with the popular digital collections of libraries. Readers may browse the library’s digital collection, instantly borrow titles and start reading or listening for free with a valid library card.
Readers in Nassau County only need a valid library card to access digital books from Nassau Digital Doorway’s OverDrive-powered digital collection and can visit join.nassaulibrary.org to look up their home library. To borrow e-books and audiobooks, those interested can simply visit www.nassau.overdrive.com/ or download the Libby app.
Readers can use any major device and, for offline use, download titles onto Libby as well. All titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period and there are no late fees.
Looking ahead to Nassau Digital Doorway’s future goals, Palmisano outlined plans to keep improving the program and further reaching the community.
“Right now, we’re basically just trying to meet demand,” Palmisano said. “We want to make sure that we can provide items in a timely manner, and that definitely takes a lot of effort. We are increasing our budget, so we’re going to be getting more titles and more copies of items going forward. Hopefully, everything will continue to move forward smoothly and our services will just get better and better.”
Palmisano also discussed the larger impact that the program can make on readers, emphasizing the importance of making information easily accessible to all.
“It’s important that, regardless of your work or your home life, it’s always there, the information is there—be it an escape through fiction, or actual information-gathering via non-fiction.”