If you're too rushed to browse the stacks at the public library, there's a nifty alternative -- the ebook or audio book, downloadable to your personal computer, MP3 player, iPod or mobile device.
Ebooks have text but no sound -- the page displays on the screen. Audiobooks are books that are read aloud and don't show text.
Both are increasing in popularity, said Adrienne Wass, manager of community development for the Greater Victoria Public Library.
In the last seven months, the number of eBook and audio-book patrons has jumped from just under 3,000 to almost 4,500.
The advantage of eBooks to customers is the availability. Books can be downloaded any time of the day or night. Once the loan period is over, the book disappears, so there are no late fees.
eBooks are appealing to people with visual problems because the text can be enlarged. They're especially good for travellers, said Wass. "The books can't be damaged and no parts go missing."
There are few labour costs associated with eBooks, Wass said. The more a title is checked out, the lower the cost to the library.
There can still be a short wait for eBooks because libraries are granted only a certain number of licences for titles.
The source, accessible through the Vancouver Island Regional Library and Greater Victoria Public Library websites, is the Library To Go site, established in 2007 by the Ministry of Education.
Library to Go contains more than 2,500 titles, including bestsellers, technical manuals, travel guides and romance novels. The VIRL databases offer free access to foreign-language learning, auto repair manuals, animated talking books for children, newspapers and magazines.
Last year, the number of ebook titles checked out of the Vancouver Island Regional Library doubled, to almost 16,500.
"Daily, our librarians are showing customers how to download titles to their ebook systems," said Marianne Van Toor in an e-mail.