Books remain DCDL’s bread and butter


Last week in this column we began a series called “Back to the Basics.” I’ve worked at the Delaware County District Library for over a decade now, and many of the things we routinely do are no longer new to me. It’s easy to forget that our everyday activities within a library are also brand new concepts to someone who is just entering a library for the first time.

This week, we’re going to learn about one of the most basic concepts of a library — books! Outside of people and buildings, the largest portion of Delaware County District Library spending is dedicated to purchasing library materials and information (the technical term for books and online resources). Though it may seem simple enough, the role of a book in a library has changed rather significantly over time.

There are two primary ways that today’s readers are going to check out a book from a library — physically or digitally. Physical, or traditional, books are still the bread and butter of a library. In 2023, Delaware County District Library cardholders checked out 1,895,568 physical materials!

Books come in all shapes, sizes, genres and styles. One book may be on the library’s shelves in eight unique and distinct ways. Let’s take the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly, for example. The original story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space race is available on DCDL’s shelves in the format of a traditional book and in a large print edition. That same book was read by a professional audiobook reader and recorded into an audiobook CD edition to be physically checked out and listened to in the car or through another type of CD player.

Sometimes stories like “Hidden Figures” are so popular that they are translated into other languages. Using the library’s online catalog to search for translations, one would find “Talentos Ocultos” — the Spanish translation of “Hidden Figures.”

Additionally, books written for one age group may be rewritten to include the same basic principles and storyline but adapted for readers of other ages. “Hidden Figures” was adapted into an illustrated picture book for children, as well as a young readers’ edition for kids ages 8-12. Both will use language and illustrations that are appropriate for their audiences to learn about the women who helped launch our nation into space. Both of these editions also have audiobook CDs associated with them.

Now let’s hop over to the digital side of books. More than 350,000 items — 358,856 to be precise — were digital checkouts by DCDL cardholders in 2023. The most popular digital formats are ebooks and audiobooks, but other items like magazines, comics, graphic novels, music, movies and TV shows are also available for checkout in a digital format.

Staying with our example, “Hidden Figures” is available for digital download as both an ebook and an audiobook in all of the readers’ versions that I previously mentioned. Downloading digital content may seem daunting if you’re unfamiliar, but it quickly can become second nature once you discover your preferred reading format.

Most digital downloads will take place within the context of an app on your phone or tablet, or visiting a website on a computer. At DCDL, we offer the Libby and Hoopla apps for digital books. These apps are made to easily link with your library card and provide you with a digital version of the library’s catalog. Libby follows a regular library checkout procedure, with users requesting materials and waiting in line until they become available. Hoopla has a more limited selection of materials, but provides them for immediate access on a limited monthly basis.

If any of the concepts that I’ve mentioned in today’s column are new to you and you’d like to learn more about them, stop by your local Delaware County District Library branch and talk to one of our staff members, or call to schedule an appointment with a reference librarian.

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at or directly to Nicole at [email protected]. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!

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