April 3, 2013

SEPTA unveils rail station ‘library’

Commuters can access books and podcasts via QR codes on a platform at SEPTA's Suburban Station. Photo courtesy of SEPTA.Photo courtesy SEPTA.

Commuters can access books and podcasts via QR codes on a platform at SEPTA's Suburban Station. Photo courtesy of SEPTA.Photo courtesy SEPTA.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) partnered with the Free Library of Philadelphia and Dunkin' Donuts to offer what is believed to be the nation's first virtual library at a train station throughout the month of April. Passengers will only have to make one stop to 'enrich their ride': SEPTA's Suburban Station.

On April 2, the virtual library was unveiled on 76 advertising boards on Suburban Station's platforms. The “library" — which is sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts — features books and podcasts available for download from the Free Library. SEPTA riders can access the books and podcasts by scanning QR codes or logging on to the Free Library's website. The virtual library at Suburban Station coincides with National Library Week, held from April 14 to 20.

"We are excited to create awareness for the Free Library's digital collection by offering easy access to our customers via the virtual library," said SEPTA GM Joseph M. Casey. "The train or bus, especially on longer trips, can provide the perfect setting for sitting down with a book for an extended period of time. And the digital library allows commuters to access a great number of books on the go."

The virtual library at Suburban Station is just a small sample of the Free Library's complete digital collection.

"The Free Library's vast digital resources include access to more than 80,000 ebooks, 8,000 audiobooks and 1,000 author podcasts," said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library. " We are committed to making as many of our incredible resources available online at freelibrary.org as possible, so that our customers can access great materials wherever they are — including on their daily commutes."

The virtual library will also include a QR code for commuters to download the Dunkin' Donuts app for mobile payments and local offers.

In addition to the virtual library, SEPTA and its partners will recognize National Library Week and the perfect combination of reading while commuting by sponsoring the "What are you reading?" contest. Through April 16, the public can submit the titles of the books they are currently enjoying to SEPTA's Facebook page and the @SEPTA_Social Twitter feed using #enrichyourride. Three entries will be selected at random to win various prizes, including a monthly SEPTA pass, Dunkin' Donuts gift pack and tickets to local library events.

The "What are you reading?" contest is designed to start a social media "conversation" about what titles are trending with SEPTA customers and to recommend selections for riders who are looking for new books.

The public will be also able to explore the Free Library's full digital offerings on April 16 when the Techmobile — a "hot spot on wheels" — is stationed outside of SEPTA's city headquarters. Library staff will help the public register for library cards, download digital materials and learn more about the Free Library's online offerings.

For more information about the virtual library at Suburban Station, National Libraries Week and the Free Library, click here. For more information about the "What are you reading?" contest and SEPTA, click here.

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out, "Peapod.com opens digital rail station grocery stores."

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