My daughter and I are regular visitors to our local public library. She loves getting new books for bedtime reading and I love reading them to her. Sometimes the simple pleasures are best.
For my own reading, increasingly I’ve been reading ebooks on my Nook, either purchasing from Waterstones or finding free novels elsewhere on the web. Previously I had checked the library’s website for ebook loans but they weren’t available.
However this weekend, a flyer on the library’s noticeboard announced that ebook loans were now available to all members of Northern Irish public libraries. Yay! Apparently the service went live in mid-July according to the press release and it uses the Overdrive platform, which mostly uses Adobe .epub with DRM to loan the ebooks for a few weeks.
I hope the service is a success here, but the ebook reader market in the UK is totally dominated by the Kindle which doesn’t work with .epub. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has an ereader that isn’t a Kindle. There are clients for most of the mobile OSes, such as Android and iOS, so there might be some take up there.
Ok, so a bit of a niche post but I’m just pleased to get books for free!
My husband went to our local library the Cabell County Public Library last week and picked up a library card. If you haven’t been to a library in a long time you maybe surprise how much they have embraced new technology. One of the areas that most libraries have embraced is ebooks and audiobooks. They use a system called Overdrive to allow customers to download the books. The Overdrive system works with Mac or Windows and a multiple of portable devices including: iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Sony Readers, Barnes and Noble Nook, various Palm and Window devices. On some devices like the iPhone you can download directly to the devices. On other devices you have to download to the Overdrive console on your computer and then transfer to the device. A full listing of supported devices can be found at Overdrive Resource Center. Once you install Overdrive on your chosen device or platform, then you are ready to download your book. The steps are as follows:
- click on Overdrive Icon
- click on Add a Website
- enter name of your library, zip code or city
- if you enter zip code or city you then have to click on the library you want
- log into the your library using your library id and the pin #
the library gave you.
- Find the book you are looking for
- At that point you can either add the book directly to
your cart or too your wish list.
- If someone else has the book out,
you can put a hold on it and when
it becomes available it will download automatically
I did run into a couple of problems while attempting to download some books. Sometimes entering the zip code work and sometimes it didn’t and I would have to browse by state. The first time I downloaded a book I had to shut down and restart my iPhone before the book showed up on my list. I also noticed that the number of books available for download is limited. One of the reasons the number of books available are limited is because not all publishers offer their books to libraries. Some publishers are under the mistaken idea that libraries are stealing sales from them. “Public libraries are more important than some blogger,” said Potash from Overdrive. “The library is the best way to elevate your sales. The data is starting to prove it.” Unfortunately the one device that is not supported directly by Overdrive is the Kindle. Although it possible add ebooks downloaded from Overdrive to Kindle, it takes additional steps you have to be able to remove the DRM and convert to Mobipocket format. Clearly most people are not going to do this. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed, its unfortunate that library books can’t be downloaded to the most popular e-book reader easily. Despite these problems if you like to read ebooks or listen to audiobooks, try your local library on-line you maybe surprised what is available.
I like libraries as well as librarians who are generally some of the nicest, most helpful people I have met. However there is not much of a need for libraries anymore. The internet has more information than all the libraries in the world can provide and is widely available. I know it is not free in most places though like the library. Free is not exactly correct as they are paid for through taxation. Now I am not suggesting hurting poor people by taking away the “free library”. I think it can be done differently if it has to be done at all. It is not only a place to get free books but also a place to get online for free but you do have to drive to the physical location. Why not take the library budget and use it for free wi fi hot spots in the city?
Now I know everyone does not have a computer so free wi fi does not help them. But there are ways to to get this done also. OLCP is one avenue but there could be plenty more ideas and I am not suggesting giving out free computers through taxes. I think most taxes are unnecessary but I don’t have time to delve into that. Another point is that not everyone uses the library currently so not everyone should get a computer just because they cannot afford one. Separating people in search of knowledge from people looking for a handout is a task indeed. Maybe local business could sponsor kids or a single mother to get a computer in exchange for some volunteer work in the future. The point is a centralized location for knowledge is an outdated idea so other ways of accessing that information has to be achieved.
We live right behind our library and rarely visit it. We get online everyday. That may be different if they had more current books but that is likely a problem in most small towns. If there was free wi fi in our miniscule town we could save $40 per month. At least then we would get something for our taxes. I just think more people would benefit from free wi fi than currently do from brick & mortar libraries. If I could save $480 per year on internet service then I would gladly contribute (voluntarily) a percentage to a fund for the less fortunate in my town to get low cost computers. I put a link to a library website with a study showing increased use at libraries but the study was done by The American Library Association so take it with a grain of salt. If I ran a bakery & did a study on whether cakes were necessary or not, do you think the result would benefit me?
Google Becomes a Library. Digitizing the World’s Books?
Google, Inc., flush from a solid IPO, is serving five of the leading libraries by offering to pick up the tab for scanning the hallowed collections and making the resulting texts available online, in many cases, at no charge to the reader. The new project, Google Print, offers an entirely new way of conducting library research.
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