Technology makes our reading lives easier but can’t replace the library

Diedre w: Librarian
Book, libraries, and especially librarians have always been a big part of my life

By: Deidre Dozema-Burkholder


I’ve had a library card since I was in kindergarten. Thinking of the library always brings back fond memories of trips with my Dad to the local book heaven to check out books. I would select a few different books for my Dad to read to me at bedtime. I still enjoy reading at night before I fall asleep. There have been more than a few times where my husband has come to bed only to find me asleep with a book in my lap or on his pillow.


Over time, my choice in books has changed as well as how I choose to read those books. For a while I strayed away from the library and opted to purchase books directly from retailers and Amazon, back when books were pretty much the only thing they offered. Then in 2007 Amazon launched a digital reading device called the Kindle.


The idea of digital books wasn’t something exactly new – a patent from 1949 shows the idea for a Mechanical Encyclopedia – and books on Tape/CD had been around for years. However, the Kindle was a game changer. It was the idea of holding something tangible in your hand and reading for enjoyment and knowledge.



The first Kindle cost $399.99 and sold out in less than 6 hours. It remained out of stock for five months. While I would have loved a Kindle, the digital experience of reading books didn’t seem worth the $400 price tag.


With that, I rediscovered the library, and soon the library discovered technology. My local library had already placed computers into their realm but now it really looks like the libraries are catching up with the technological curve. Certain libraries can checkout Kindle or iPads just as easy has checking out the latest James Patterson novel.


Libraries offer other options through technology as well. There are a handful that I highly enjoy.


The first is called Overdrive, it’s an application which you can download on to your computer or mobile device and “checkout” books from the library. You can even request a book just the same as you would before. If you prefer picking up an album or movie at the library, you should try Hoopla. Hoopla offers movies, TV shows, music, audiobooks, and comics. If you prefer browsing magazines, take a look at the application Zinio.



I love all three of these applications because they’re so easy. I don’t have to worry about returning the item since many of these applications have auto-return. The item simply returns itself after the allowed checkout time. The one downside to auto-return happens when you’re midway through a book and the time is up. You end up having to go through the process of downloading or requesting it again the book again. However, that’s something I’m okay with because I no longer have late fees!


Of course, if you’re an avid reader it can be easy to lose track of what you have read or what you want to read. For this, I like to use the website called GoodReads. I was introduced to GoodReads several years back, and it’s something I like to keep in my back pocket to find books from authors I like.


On top of finding books from authors, GoodReads also offers the ability to check the order of your favorite book series, give notice when a favorite author is releasing a new book, and suggest other authors or books based on your reading history.


Sometimes when I’m wandering Schuler’s Book Store, I pull out the app and scan a book so I can remember the book when I’m at the library next. I also use it to check reviews from what others who have already read the book had to say about it. My reading list currently sits at 41 books and includes everything from classics like The Maltese Falcon and Gone with the Wind, to “beach reads” which will remain nameless.

Reading Rainbow


I can’t write this without making note of a show way back in the day called Reading Rainbow. I watched this show growing up and would often go to my local library to find the book featured on the show. For over 23 years this show aired on PBS and featured specific books or a centered theme which was explored throughout the show.


After the show stopped airing in 2014, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to help fund an App. Within 24 hours the campaign reached $5 Million with over 100,000 thousand donors. The campaign set an all-time record for the most backed kickstarter since its inception. It seems that a lot of people still wanted to take a look in a book and see the butterflies in the sky.


If you don’t have the iconic Reading Rainbow theme song in your head by now, you should do so by clicking here.


As for me, I don’t think I will ever stop reading. While technology continues to evolve, I still enjoy picking up a book and holding it in my hands. It’s something tangible. Plus, reading an actual book is easier on the eyes than a digital screen. Trust me, your eyes need a break from the screen!


I still take the time to visit my local branch to see the same librarians that have helped me find books all my life. Their help and suggestions have helped enrich my life. Now, instead of just asking for books, I take time to talk to the librarians that mean so much to a community. They are more important than the books they recommend.


With March being National Reading Month, take a look and rediscover your local library.


Deidre owns and operates Organisum: Technology Services, a business serving the West Michigan area. In her free time she likes to hike & bike local trails with friends and family when she isn’t pinning, instagram’ing or Netflix’ing.