By Will Broaddus
---- — If you got a new laptop, tablet or smartphone for a holiday gift and want to take it for a spin, there’s plenty of free content to download from Peabody Institute Library in Peabody.
In addition to the e-books and audiobooks that have been available for some time, the library added digital magazines last summer and now has 25 subscriptions through a service called Zinio.
“We have Newsweek, Astronomy Magazine, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic and Rolling Stone,” said Mike Wick, a senior reference librarian at Peabody. “Hundreds of magazines are being checked out each month.”
Patrons with Peabody cards can access titles at the website by clicking on “eLibrary,” and then “Digital Magazines.”
Magazine covers are displayed as if they were sitting on a rack, and visitors can also check out back issues, dating to the beginning of the library’s subscription.
The library isn’t replacing print issues with digital ones, Wick said, but is simply trying to meet a growing demand.
“There are people who, whether because of their age or inclination, may not be able to buy these devices,” Wick said. “We came at it looking in terms of, what do people want?”
In some cases, this means the library is subscribing to the same magazine twice, but Wick believes the costs will come down over time.
“Not just purchasing costs but also the cost of adding it to the system, the side costs will drop off,” he said.
People who read magazines appreciate digital formats, because they can store multiple copies without cluttering up their houses, Wick said.
“It works really well with a magazine, because they are much more ephemeral; they’re only pertinent for the week,” he said.
Patrons have been asking for more magazines, and the library plans to add to its subscriptions from Zinio, Wick said.
“It’s worked out fantastic,” he said. “Patrons have loved it.”