Online magazine service free, looking for users

By on August 3, 2016
Laura Brandt, technology manager for the Ephrata Public Library, demonstrated the library’s Zinio service recently for a small group of patrons. Zinio gives library users free online access to magazine. Photo by Dick Wanner

Laura Brandt, technology manager for the Ephrata Public Library, demonstrated the library’s Zinio service recently for a small group of patrons. Zinio gives library users free online access to magazine. Photo by Dick Wanner

Zinio is an online newsstand that boasts a selection of 6,000 magazines in 33 languages. Ephrata Public Library patrons can access Zinio through their computers or their handheld devices, but only about 30 of the 6,000 titles are available, and only English language magazines.

“We’d love to add more titles,” Laura Brandt told a small gathering of library faithful on a recent Thursday morning. “But right now, we don’t have enough users to warrant getting more subscriptions.”

The Zinio program budget, like all library programs, got a close look-see in recent years and the 30-title offering is what’s left after trimming titles that were either not getting much use, or too expensive. The Economist, for example, was dropped as under-used and pricey, but the library’s Zinio collection does include back issues of that weekly publication. Current copies of 79 other titles, once on the library’s subscription list, no longer are accessible through Zinio, but patrons can browse a limited number of back issues.

Brandt, who is the library’s technology manager, went through the process of accessing Zinio with her Thursday morning group. It’s not complicated, but the new user does need a library card and the ability to follow on-screen computer prompts. Once a user’s Zinio account is activated, there are apps that make it available on iPhone, Android and other devices.

Penny Talbert, the library’s budget boss, notes that the Zinio platform costs $2,000 a year, plus subscription charges that range from $25 to $200 per magazine subscription. The Friends of the Library pick up the cost of both the platform and the individual subscriptions.

Brandt keeps track of usage. She said there are 450 Zinio users who checked out 1,951 magazines in 2015. The 2016 numbers are keeping pace with last year’s, with 686 checkouts the day after Brandt’s class.

The top five titles for Ephrata Public Library browsers are Country Living, National Geographic Interactive, Food Network Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping. The bottom five are the aforementioned The Economist, Town & Country, Vegetarian Times, Weight Watchers and Women’s Health.

It’s easy to see from the top five, that food and shelter are popular topics with local readers. And National Geographic, as well, with checkouts perhaps influenced by home schoolers. And it’s easy to see from the bottom five that, this being Lancaster County, after all, calories aren’t a top consideration for cooks looking to score an online recipe.

Brandt said the availability of Zinio’s online browsing feature has enabled the library to avoid the subscription expense of printed publications.

Dick Wanner reported on this story for The Ephrata Review. He can be reached at rwanner.eph@lnpnews.com, or by phone at 419-4703.

 

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