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Don't have an e-reader? Go to the library

Thursday - 7/14/2011, 8:45am  ET

Michelle Basch,

WASHINGTON - E-readers are popular gizmos, but they can be pretty expensive.

Now you don't have to buy one to use one. Some local libraries will let you borrow them and take them home for a while.

Starting Thursday, July 14, the Calvert County Public Library is letting customers check out two different kinds of e-readers: Kindles and Nook Colors.

The library applied for federal grant money that it used to buy a total of 72 e-readers for its branches. Each e-reader is like a mini-library, pre-loaded with dozens of books of a certain category.

"For example, an adult might like mysteries, so they would check out the mystery e-reader, and it would have about 80 different mysteries on it," says Library Director Pat Hofmann.

There are a total of 12 different themes, including bestsellers, around the world, which is nonfiction travel and children's picture books.

"We're one of the first in Maryland, and perhaps one of the first in the country to be loaning e-readers in this manner," Hofmann says.

To check out an e-reader, you have to be at least 18 years old and you must sign a special user agreement.

E-readers can be checked out for three weeks at a time, and that period can be renewed if no one has placed a hold on the particular e-reader you've borrowed.

Librarians have been trained to teach people one-on-one how to use the e-readers, but the library also is offering classes to get you up to speed.

The Howard County Library also lets customers borrow e-readers, but its program is different from Calvert's. The Howard County Library has 60 Nooks available and each one has the same 34 titles loaded onto it.

Here's a video of one of the Calvert Library's e-readers in action:

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