Going digital at the library and beyond

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By Tyler Austin
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

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Many are still loyal to reading physical copies of books instead of digital ones.

The world we live in is on the brink of a major shift; more and more people are beginning to put down their books and magazines and pick up their Kindles, iPads and other e-readers to get their information, reading professionals say.

They say print-based publications and businesses are trying to adjust to the shift to online as best they can. However, people seem to be more inclined to scroll through and read something in the comfort of their own home rather than travel to obtain a physical copy.

Businesses with magazines, newspapers and libraries are places that one would imagine have been most affected by this shift. The Lansing Library however has managed to roll with the changes and keep most of its members over the years.

Many of those members though have become split; some will loyally come into the library for DVDs, books and movies while others only come in when needed; like to renew a library card, said Jessica Trotter, the head of public affairs for the downtown branch of the Lansing Library who has held her position for over ten years.

“We do offer digital services as well,” Trotter said. “But we try to be more like a community center than a library; bringing in authors and reading to kids and what not.”

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Some prefer the accessibility of an e-reader over that of a physical copy.

This allows the library to be able to reach out to those who are dependent on their e-readers but also maintain that connection that will keep them coming back for years to come.

According to Trotter, the library usually loses its regular members in the years just before going to college and don’t get them back until they are prepared to start a family of their own. However, the digital services allows the library to keep that relationship with those people even within that age gap.

And while some are more comfortable with e-books and online publications, some are adamant in sticking to physical copies.

Henry Rojas is a resident of the Lansing area and uses the library as often as possible.

“I get so many books from here,” Rojas said. “Not even just books for pleasure either I used to get books for school here too.”

The library isn’t the only place in the area that has had to think on their feet during this time. Magazines have also had to change with the shift in order to keep their audiences as well.

Kathryn Houghton is a professor at Michigan State University who works with ing Magazine, a magazine distributed to the East Lansing/Lansing community. Every few months her and her team perform “audience analyses” to assess the magazine’s readership, along with their interests and reading habits. One of the points that is brought up in the analysis is whether people are more prone to follow with the online blog for stories or pick up an actual physical copy.

This information is then used to better meet the needs of the audience and to help the magazine stay abreast of any changes in the community.

There are so many factors that must be considered when thinking of what’s happening with these different forms of media.

Liza Potts is a professor at MSU and teaches in its professional writing department. She speaks on some of the trials that the shift puts on some businesses as well as the benefits.

“Digital can be easily searched. You can reach more people by putting something on the internet,” Potts said. “The problem is a lot of books aren’t ‘digitally born’ so they look weird when you try put them online, comic books will often have this problem.”

With this and so many other factors coming into play when considering the shift to digital, many publications and businesses are doing what they can to keep up. While it seems now that there are still plenty of readers who prefer physical copies many are prepared to go completely digital.

And many print-based businesses are preparing for that change.

 

 

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