Web library offers troops downrange more books

By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 22, 2009

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The Army in Europe is bringing its library collections to deployed troops using a host of online services.

The program allows troops to browse Army library collections, download videos, check out books and get them delivered by mail, according to Stacy Graham, the Army’s Europe Region librarian.

Customers can set up an online library account that also allows them to place items on hold, view their lending history and create reading lists, Graham said.

The Web site stores information about a person’s borrowing history but that information remains private, Graham said, adding; “We don’t look at people’s reading history. That is private so that is something we wouldn’t do.”

Borrowers also can write book reviews in the same way customers do on commercial Web sites such as Amazon.com, Graham said.

“The online service is very effective for deployed soldiers. Soldiers downrange can request things online and those materials are sent to them downrange,” he said.

Personnel downrange already had been able to borrow library materials using an e-mail system, Graham said.

Since the new system launched in September, the most popular borrowed items have been educational materials. Only about 10 to 15 books are sent downrange each month, but Graham said he expects that to increase once word of the new online services spreads.

Librarians are testing how long it takes materials to arrive downrange and how long it takes them to come back. They also are interested in knowing how much gets lost in the mail, Graham said.

“We are not making the soldiers responsible for the books that get lost downrange,” he said.

Troops also will be able to download free videos and can choose from 500 movies in the library system, including new releases and documentaries.

Patrons at home can also use the system. For more information go to www.library.eur.army.mil

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