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Pratt Library expands e-reader loan program system-wide

LibrariesSony Corp.Harry and Jeanette Weinberg FoundationEnoch Pratt Free Library

A popular program of lending e-readers to patrons of the Enoch Pratt Free Library is expanding to all 22 branches in the system, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Wednesday.

A $350,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation will be used in part to purchase 200 Sony Readers, she said during a news conference.

In the past, roughly two dozen Nooks that had been pre-loaded with popular titles could be checked out from the Waverly and Reisterstown branches. In the future, patrons at any branch will be able to download titles of their choice onto the new Sony Readers.

Roswell Encina, the library's director of communications, says the grant also will swell the Pratt's existing, 58,000 virtual books by 3,500, which should reduce waiting periods to check out the most popular titles. In addition, touch screen monitors that will let patrons download e-titles onto their own reading devices will be installed at half the branches, including the Central Library.

"According to a recent nationwide study, most Americans still don't know eBooks are available for checkout from the public library," Carla D. Hayden, the Pratt's chief executive officer, said in a news release. "We believe with more titles and e-readers for loan, the Pratt Library will be the 'go to place' to get more for free in the digital age."

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

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