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Kent Free Library hosts second technology petting zoo

By Andy Harris correspondent

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Kent Free Library will host a technology petting zoo Thursday and Sunday for individuals to test a variety of tablets and e-readers. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File Photo)

KENT: With time for holiday-gift shopping dwindling down to its final days, procrastinating shoppers need all the help they can get to find the right item for the tough-to-buy-for people on their Christmas list.

Tablet computers and e-reader devices, which a growing sector in the technology market, are a popular gift idea across and the Kent Free Library is offering a helping hand to those trying to find the right e-reader or tablet.

The library is offering "Technology Zoos" on from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday and from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday to give patrons and community members a chance to have hands-on interaction with a variety of tablets and e-readers. In the library's meeting room, 12 different devices are available to try out with a librarian on hand to explain their features and detail the differences between various devices.

"We have the iPad 2, the new iPad Mini, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, the Kindle Fire and also the new Kindle Paperwhite," said Melissa Ziminsky, the library's Adult Services Manager.

The most common question from participants, according to Ziminsky, is whether a tablet or e-reader is a better fit for them. The answer to that question depends on whether the individual plans to use the device exclusively for reading (in which case an e-reader is more suitable) or if they want to use it to go online and run other apps (with a tablet as a better option), she added.

This is the second year the library has offered what it deems a "technology petting zoo," with a larger selection this year than in 2011.

The purpose of the event is twofold. Not only are individuals able to test the various e-readers and tablets before spending several hundred dollars on them, the event also provides an opportunity to highlight the library's own e-book selection, which it offers in conjunction with the Ohio eBook Project and its OverDrive Media Console.

"Patrons with a library card have access to the Ohio eBook Project and the OverDrive app," Ziminsky added. "They can go out for two weeks or one week if a person thinks they'll read it a little quicker."

Unfortunately, publishers often treat e-books like a physical copy of a book, meaning only one copy can be checked out at a time. However, no renewals are allowed on e-books, so the waiting list for them moves more quickly than for traditional library materials.

In addition to this week's Technology Zoos, the library will hold three more events on Jan. 6, 7 and 12 for those who may have received a tablet or e-reader for Christmas and need help learning how to use their new device.

"As people are buying new devices, we want give a sense of what they are getting. It's a very informal event," Ziminsky said. "We try to do them around the holidays because that's when a lot of people are getting a new tablet or e-reader for themselves or for someone else."