3M Rolls Out E-Book Lending System in St. Paul Libraries

The competing OverDrive e-book lending service allows local library patrons to borrow digital titles for their own devices-but the new 3M Cloud Library system lets St. Paul library visitors check out an e-reader device, as well.

A new e-book lending system developed by 3M Company is being rolled out in St. Paul's public libraries, allowing patrons to not only download digital titles but also take home a device on which to read them.

The new 3M Cloud Library system debuted Wednesday at the Sun Ray location of the St. Paul Public Library system. St. Paul libraries have offered e-book lending services through a system called OverDrive for some time, but library patrons have been required to own an e-reader device to take advantage of the service.

At St. Paul's Sun Ray, Arlington Hills, and Central branches, patrons can browse a catalog of available titles on touchscreen kiosks dubbed “3M Discovery Terminals.” Titles can be downloaded to 3M-branded e-readers, which can be checked out by anyone with a library card from the St. Paul Public Library system.

Patrons who own compatible e-reader devices-including PCs, Apple computers, iPads, Nooks, and Android devices-can browse, check out, and read e-books by using the 3M Cloud Library application. This allows people to browse and check out available titles from home or on the go.

Unlike the OverDrive system, which is still offered by St. Paul libraries, 3M's Cloud Library services are not compatible with the Amazon Kindle.

St. Paul Public Library spokeswoman Sheree Savage told Twin Cities Business on Thursday that library patrons now have access to about 3,100 books via the new 3M system and roughly 6,550 through the OverDrive catalog. She said the local library system is focused on buying the most recent and popular titles to bolster the 3M catalog.

“St. Paul is proud to be one of the first library sites to provide this service,” Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement. “The fact that the system allows e-readers to be checked out along with digital content is a great way to ensure e-reading is available to all.”

In addition to the St. Paul locations, several other libraries in the United States have debuted the 3M Cloud Library system, including locations in New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Kansas.

3M intends to gather feedback from the patrons and staffs of the libraries that are piloting the program and refine the system prior to rolling it out on a larger scale.

Maplewood-based 3M is Minnesota's fifth-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $29.6 billion in its most recent fiscal year.