America's First Virtual Library Opens at Suburban Station

Commuters waiting for a train in Suburban Station   now have a stimulating   new way to pass the time – downloading  e-books, audio books and podcasts which  they can then  enjoy while riding  the train, relaxing  at  home, wherever.. 

 Sponsored by the Free Library of Philadelphia, SEPTA and Dunkin Donuts, the month long “Enrich Your Ride with Reading” project is billed as "the first Virtual Library in the U.S". (there’s also one in Budapest) and coincides with National Library Month.  To lure you in, all  advertising signage on the Suburban Station train platforms is now  touting  these free offerings  -  actually  a small sample  of the 80,000 e-books, 8,000 audio books and thousand plus podcasts  available to card holders at

 The graphics for each sign-touted classic, best seller and podcast  includes a QR  (quick response) code symbol, Just open a  QR application (free to download)  on your smart phone or tablet  then point your device’s camera to frame and capture the QR image. Within  a minute or less, the book or podcast   automatically loads onto your device.  And even if using an  Android or Apple iOS device (like an iPod Touch)  that’s lacking mobile phone service,  you can use the free Wi-Fi available on the train station platforms to enable the download. .

User note: if you don’t see a book or podcast you want on the first billboard, look for a second sign further down the platform packing  a different set of offerings. Also be forewarned -  as the Free Library leases  only  a limited number of licenses for current e-book titles, you may not be able to download  the one you want, instantly. If not, you’ll be put on a wait list then  duly informed with a email message when a download is available, explained library communications and brand marketing director Alix Gerz.   These electronic “loaners” usually expire after three  weeks, but are renewable..

Current best sellers range from “Defending Jacob”  by William Landay, “The Dinner” by Herman Koch and  “Tenth of December” by George Saunders to children’s books like “Fast Train, Slow Train” and “Bears in the Night.“  The public domain classics – available in unlimited quantities – include Camden transplant  Walt Whitman’s classic collection of poems “Leaves of Grass,”  Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”  and “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.”  Authors ruminating outloud on  podcasts (all recorded at the Free Library’s popular guest speaker series) range from Dave Barry to Jennifer Weiner, Madeleine Albright to Colin Powell.   

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