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Bemidji library offers online reading options

Roger Cronk is the ideal e-audiobook customer. He has long "read" his books by listening to them on CD and cassette, but has tired of keeping track of the media hardware.

So, when he found that he could download books through the Bemidji Public Library Web site, he decided to try it out.

"When I heard that the library service actually has downloadable books, that was really appealing to me," Cronk said.

The Bemidji Public Library is accessible through the Kitchigami Regional library System Web site at, where KRLS library card holders may take advantage of online features and resources, including NetLibrary, a service that offers more than 160,000 downloadable e-audiobooks and e-books.

Cronk, who has digested more than 1,000 books through different media, found himself drawn to "Jefferson's War: America's First War on Terror 1801-1805." With the assistance of Branch Manager Paul Ericsson, he was able to download the e-audiobook to a computer.

And Cronk would probably be in the middle of his latest selection today if technology hadn't gotten in the way. He already has bought, and returned, three different MP3 players, but they were not compatible with the NetLibary system. (While iPods are among the most popular MP3 players, iPods are not supported by the NetLibary system. For more information about the requirements needed for a compatible MP3 player, go online to

So, Cronk has now ordered a player that does fit the system requirements, but it is on backorder.

"I'm kind of stuck at this point," he said, laughing.

The downloadable books are still "borrowed" from the library as they come equipped with "timers" that expire after their check-out time passes, according to Ericsson. After their time runs out, they are inaccessible to the customer. Downloaded files also are encrypted so trademarked materials may not be transferred to CD for permanent use.

The e-materials are just one of the added features available online, which Ericsson is now actively promoting to the community.

He explained during a presentation to the City Council on Monday that anyone with a KRLS library card may log into the Web site online - at the library or on a private computer -- and place requests through the library catalog, review their check-out status, and utilize the MnLINK system to locate and request materials not available in the KRLS.

Ericsson said the Web site is set up to be simple and easy to use - but also includes more options for advanced users.

"It's kind of like having the best of both worlds," Ericsson said. includes access to 350 national and international newspapers, academic resources, business resources, automobile and small engine repair manuals, and also genealogy and family history resources through Ancestry and HeritageQuest.

"I believe personally there is a wealth of information here," Ericsson said.

Technology talk


A text file is downloaded to a personal computer. It can then be read, on the computer screen, or transferred to a portable e-book reader. Either way, the text of the book is read on a computer screen.


This is the modern version of the audiobook, which has been read aloud to readers via cassette tape and CD. An e-audiobook is an audio file that is downloaded from a service such as NetLibrary to a personal computer. It also may then be uploaded to a personal MP3 player.

MP3 player

An MP3 player, or media player, is a portable device that most often is used to listen to music or watch videos.