Horry County is “building” a 12th library location that anyone in the county can access at anytime.
This won’t be a brick and mortar location, but rather an integrated, online system that gives library card holders complete access to materials over the internet including the full library catalogue, ebooks and streaming movies, TV shows and music.
Clifton Boyer, director of libraries, said the county is finally upgrading its Integrated Library System (ILS) and jumping on board with new technology.
“We were falling behind on things we could offer to the public because we just didn’t have it in the budget to change our system,” he said. “But, now we are upgrading our current system for a lot less money than buying a new system and working with different companies to have apps for people to use on their phones and tablets.”
The first change, set to launch in by the end of December, is the new LibAnywhere app to be used on iPhones, Android phones, iPads and tablets.
The app will allow library patrons to access library hours for each location, an events calendar, manage their accounts and access the Horry County Memorial Library website.
“With this app, users will be able to streamline all of the information they need on a minutes notice,” Boyer said. “It is really cool.”
Patrons will also be able to place holds on books, renew items, search the library catalogue and check out ebooks within the app.
The app will also feature reviews of the book, the ability to scan a book at a bookstore to see if the library has it, suggestions for similar books and the lexile reading level score for the books so parents can match a child’s reading level to the book.
To read the ebooks, patrons will need to download the “3M” app from the app store.
Boyer said Horry County Memorial Libraries joined the 3M ebooks app more than a year ago.
“The 3M app has served us well and helped us reach that market of people who are exclusive ebook readers and those who don’t have time to get to a physical location,” he said.
The 3M ebook library collection is still in the process of being built and Boyer said they add new books to it every week.
“It takes a while to build a collection and we are working on it,” he said.
In order to increase the number of ebook users, Boyer said the next update to the library system will be to include ebooks in searches at the physical library and online.
“Right now, ebooks are not shown when a person does a search in our catalogue, he said. “However, starting in January, people will be able to see all the offerings, including ebooks, in that one search.”
The next change the library is making is upgrading its website.
The new website is set to launch in January.
It will feature an easier way for patrons to search the library catalogue, a listing of the New York Times bestsellers and a listing of what is new at the library including DVDs, books, ebooks and magazines.
“The ‘what’s new’ section of the website is going to be different for patrons, but we think it will be more streamlined than our current system,” he said.
The new website will also allow patrons to sign up for online library cards and use them right away.
“With that card, they will be able to access all our online materials and then, if they come to a physical location, the will be able to get a regular library card if they meet our specifications like residency,” Boyer said.
With the new ILS also comes the option for people to receive texts instead of emails or calls when books they put on hold are available.
“We will also have the option for people who don’t have internet to call in and manage their account,” he said. “We have never had that option before and it will really help people.”
As if all those new features weren’t enough, Boyer said they have also partnered with an app called “Hoopla” that offers streaming movies, TV shows, music and audio books starting in January.
All of the material will be free and patrons will be able to access five items per month.
“It will have new shows and movies, but it will also have classics for people to enjoy,” he said.
Horry is one of only three counties in the state to offer this service to library patrons.
“It is pretty cool all the things we have coming up for our patrons,” Boyers said. “It is exciting to be upgrading and offering new technologies.”
No need to worry, however, all the regular library offerings including online classes, computer access, the Bookmobile, clubs, nonprofit meetings, printing services, copiers, movie rentals, magazines, reference materials and normal, hard copies of books, will still be available.
“We will never get rid of those things that mean so much to the public,” Boyer said.