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Library Director Takes Reading Into the Future

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. - The way people read books is changing, but Sibyl Canaan said that's a good thing for readers.

“We are now a mobile society," she said. "Your book could be on your iPhone and that’s great because that means you’ll never be without a book.”

As the executive director of the Peekskill Field Library, Canaan understands she must keep up with that shift. That’s why by late springtime, she hopes to have approximately 25 Barnes and Noble Nooks on the shelves so customers can read downloaded e-books. The plan is to have the Nooks already preloaded with a handful of popular novels.

“We follow the path of what’s happening in book technology,” added Canaan. “We’re just used to reading online now.”

To further keep up with a changing library environment, patrons will also be able to check their account from a smartphone or home computer to see what books have been borrowed and when they are due back. Overdue fines can even be paid online via PayPal.

So what will the Peekskill Field Library look like if hardcover books are eventually replaced by e-books? Canaan said the concept will be the same but the shelves may just look a bit different.

“We will still have the concept of reading and knowledge. There will still be book clubs," she said. "People are still turned on by wisdom and exploration.”

But Canaan said that while some things will change, others will stay the same. For one, tidbits of the city’s history will still be available in the books, maps and old newspapers preserved in the Peekskill Field Library’s Local History Room.

“It is documented to the extent that people who want to write about it can reinvent it and have a passion to explore it,” she added.

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