November 13, 2013

Library offers free access to magazines

As published in The Erin Advocate

There may be nothing truly free under the sun, but when it comes to services for which we have already paid, it does make sense to use them when it is convenient.

That is the case with an on-line magazine service called Zinio, now offered to the public at no charge by the Wellington County Library.

It fits well with the library’s mandate to making interesting material freely available. Assistant Chief Librarian Chanda Gilpin said they knew there would be a demand for a magazine service because of the popularity of their other digital services.

You can access eBooks and eAudiobooks, as well as catalogue searches and research tools, and manage your personal account, without actually going to a library.

“We’re always trying to anticipate and adapt to the needs of the community,” said Gilpin.

You can still get paper copies of magazines at library branches, which is better than paying $5 for one issue at your local drug store. But if you can get used to reading them on your computer, tablet or smartphone, it is very efficient for both users and the library system.

“We can put a print magazine in each of our 14 branches and provide access to one person at a time at each location,” said Gilpin. “Or we can pay approximately half that cost and make the same magazine available through Zinio to every single library member in the County, all at the same time. Zinio also comes with all-hours access, no worries about fines, and no damaged materials.”

Wellington currently offers access to 44 magazines through Zinio, which is not a lot in the competitive magazine market, but it is a good start. They cover some of the most popular sectors, with titles for women, men, teens and kids.

You can learn how to age well with Zoomer, absorb some Canadian culture with The Walrus, read a tribute to Lou Reed in Rolling Stone, make cookies with Canadian Living, check out the 2015 Mustang with Car and Driver, discover dinosaurs with Chirp or read up on 38 naughty holiday games with Cosmopolitan.

There is no due date, and back issues are available for many titles. Notably missing from the Zinio line-up are magazines including Macleans and other products from Rogers Media, Canada’s largest publisher. They are launching their own paid service and app called Next Issue.

Zinio is also a paid service, and you can subscribe to a much wider selection of digital magazines by going directly to their retail website. When you are viewing your library selections, you will have the opportunity, but no obligation, to buy other subscriptions.

To access the free ones, you will need a library card, which is good idea in any case. At, go to Library under Resident Services, click Online Resources, then on eBooks and More, then on Zinio to sign up. There’s a tutorial video, and branch staff can answer your questions.

The minor inconvenience to the process is that you set up a Zinio account with the library, but after you choose some magazines, you end up at where you have to set up another account with the exact same user name and password.

Once you set it up, it works smoothly – picking titles at the library site, and seeing your current batch and reading them through the Zinio site. You don’t actually download the magazine files. You just stream the view as needed to your computer.

You flip through the pages, ads and all, and the Table of Contents will have links for quick navigation. There’s full-screen viewing, bookmarking and an option for printing pages.

You can also download free Zinio reader apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire/HD, Win 8, Blackberry and Nook HD/HCD+. You still have to use the website to check out new issues of magazines. Once that is done, your accounts will sync on a wireless connection and the issue will be ready to read on your mobile device.