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Magazines at your fingertips: The library's interface is a virtual newsstand: Readers can browse dozens of titles on their computer or mobile device.
Magazines at your fingertips: The library's interface is a virtual newsstand: Readers can browse dozens of titles on their computer or mobile device.

GREENFIELD — Popularity is gaining for a new digital newsstand service at Hancock County Public Library that allows patrons to peruse magazines with the swipe of a finger or click of a mouse.

Zinio offers the latest magazines, everything short of the sniff-worthy perfume ads.

The library purchased a subscription to the online service last fall. The first full month, 1,070 issues were downloaded; by January, the number grew to 1,537.

Dave Gray, assistant director of the library, said the library had funds left in its subscriptions account, so for $4,000 a year, 94 magazine titles are offered to patrons for free.

“We felt for the price, we have the opportunity to allow more people to have the current issue,” Gray said. “That’s always a big deal. This way, anybody can check out the newest issue and it’s not a problem.”

Before Zinio, hard copies of magazines were available to patrons, but the newest copies could not be checked out. While that made the most recent issues available to anyone who came to the library, Zinio makes current issues free and available to anyone from the comfort of their own recliner.

From “Men’s Health” to “Martha Stewart Weddings” to “Consumer Reports,” Gray said library staffers picked the most popular magazines patrons have checked out in the past.

The program joins other digital services offered at the library. In 2011, for example, the library launched Freegal, which allows patrons to download five songs a week for free. That is also gaining in popularity, Gray said, especially because the music is free to keep.

In total, the library offers 255 magazine titles. Of the 94 digital titles offered through Zinio, 38 are uniquely digital that the library does not carry in print.

Jesse Keljo and Kristine Gilbertson, adult services manager and reference librarian, said patrons are giving positive feedback.

Gilbertson said she uses Zinio herself, and likes to download food magazines like “Taste of Home.”

“I really like recipe magazines,” she said. “When I’m using those, there’s a bookmark function where you can bookmark specific pages. I bookmark specific recipes, and I can just pull it up on my iPad in the kitchen and make it.”

Keljo said most tablets and smartphones offer Zinio in app stores. Once people sign up for the program through the library’s website, they can view the magazines they’ve downloaded on their tablet.

Librarians are available to help, Keljo added. Once patrons get over the initial hurdle of signing up, he said, they’re excited about the service.

“What’s great about it is, any of the magazines are available,” he said. “There’s no checkout limit, so you can potentially check out one of everything. There are no due dates; you have plenty of time to read them.”

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