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OverDrive

Jan 13 2014

The Library Without Books

by Hope L

I read in a recent issue of Time magazine (October 7, “Smoked Stacks”) that  “in 2002, Arizona’s Tucson-Pima Public Library system opened a branch without books, the first in the U.S. to attempt an all-digital existence.  But just a few years later, the library phased in printed materials.  Patrons demanded them.”

“I don’t think people could really envision a library without any books in it,” says Susan Husband, the Santa Rosa Branch manager.

My, how times have changed! San Antonio’s new Bexar County Digital Library is now touted as the nation’s only all-digital public library.

“The $2.4 million, 4,000-sq.-ft. space, also known as BiblioTech, opened September 14 and has been likened to an orange-hued Apple Store.  Stocked with 10,000 e-books, 500 e-readers, 48 computers and 20 iPads and laptops, the digital library includes a children’s area, community rooms and a Starbucksesque cafe to encourage collaboration among patrons in an inviting space.  And it will have zero print materials.”

Go ahead, call me old-fashioned—I just don’t  like the idea of a library without books.

According to the Time article, “The library is no longer the place where you walk in and the thing you pay the most attention to is the book collection,” says American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan. “It’s now a place where you’re immediately attuned to the variety of ways that people are making use of that space.”

Yikes!  Libraries with0ut books?  That’s like Superman without his cape,  a lemonade stand without anything to drink, a gym without weights, or politics without scandals.

It just won’t be the same. Luckily, DCPL still has both physical and non-physical books. If you’re after non-physical books, you can download some through the library’s free OverDrive eBooks and downloadable audiobooks service.

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Feb 7 2011

To E(book) or not to E(book)

by Patricia D

Kindle.  Nook.  Literati.  Something produced by Apple.   Someone you know got an eBook reader for Christmas.  If that someone had the same sales person as my sister-in-law, they were told the public library has electronic books to download onto said eBook reader (with the exception of the Kindle, because we all know only Amazon purchased content can be viewed on a Kindle.)   Sad fact:  DCPL currently does not have electronic books to be loaded onto any eBook reader currently on the market.  We would love to have them, primarily because our mission is to provide the materials and information our patrons want.  Also, some of us got eBook readers for Christmas too and for me, paying for a book is a verrrrrry hard idea to get my head around.  However, Economic Reality is most certainly Coyote Ugly these days and adding another dimension to DCPL’s collections is something we can plan but not implement.

We can offer, thanks in large part to the generous support of the Friends of the Dunwoody Library, a very nice downloadable audiobook collection, which can be played on computers, MP3 players and in some instances, iPods, though at the moment I have yet to figure out how to manage that technological feat (for more technical help with downloadable audiobooks, please see this post).  These downloadable audiobooks can be accessed from either our OverDrive page or from the catalog, where they are being added as quickly as we can catalog them.  I find it amusing that we’re cataloging something we can’t actually hold—it’s a little like trying to catalog Daniel Tiger’s (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood  character) imaginary best friend, which was part of the cataloging final in graduate school.  Keep an eye out for the “downloadable audiobook” format as you search the catalog and please know, as soon as we are able, that there will be listings for “electronic books” as well.

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Once upon a time one of my graduate school professors gleefully recounted her days as a militant library science student (yeah, you never saw that phrase coming, didja?) at Columbia University in the ’60s.   She said the school administration’s biggest fear during all the unrest was, of all things, that students would destroy the university library’s master catalog, known in jargon as the shelf list.  Back in the day, as they say, it would have been too easy to destroy a shelf list–just pull the rods out, dump the drawers and kick the cards all over the place–thereby rendering a rich and extensive collection pretty much useless.  Sure, it could be reconstructed but doing so would take ages and a lot of people who knew their ABCs and understood the mysteries of either the Dewey Decimal classification system or the even more mysterious Library of Congress system.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with card catalogs since I was a small child, when my children’s librarian, after making certain I had washed my hands, introduced me to the mysteries of looking up a book.  As I started my life in libraries I got more involved and the shine sort of wore off.  I still loved the smell of the cards, the sound of a drawer being pulled out and set with a thunk on the little pull out shelf and the feel of that honey brown wood.  I admired the elegance of tracings (the subject headings for each title) and was strangely comforted by the presence of the the shelf list that hulked behind the “staff only” doors of every system I ever worked in save one.  However, I was never so lost to the romance that I couldn’t see the ugly side, especially when I was  on my knees trying to scoop together the contents of several drawers that a frolicsome patron, no doubt in a brave attempt to amuse the staff, would dump at the end of a long Saturday.  My love for all that solid wood and perfectly sized cardstock died violently when I took a job at a major university and was presented with cases of retired shelf list cards.  My task was to pull all those elegant tracings, rendering the catalog accurate.  I felt like the miller’s daughter in Rumpelstiltskin, faced with a room full of straw to be spun into gold, but there was no crazy little man with a long beard to save me.  Nope.  That task took the better part of two years.  On-line catalogs have some drawbacks too, but they are here to stay, despite early predictions.  They offer more access points, are much easier to update and keep accurate and offer so much more information than their venerable predecessors.  They can even be browsed at 2:00 a.m. by folks in their jammies and scuffies.

Starting today, the DCPL catalog also contains, along with a record of holdings for books, music CDs, DVDs and Read-alongs, holdings for electronic content that we purchase.  A good portion of our budget has been trending towards electronic media the past few years and now it’s easier than ever to find.  Go on, try it out—go to the catalog on our homepage and look up Learning Express Library, home site for many on-line practice tests including the TOEFL.  Try  Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell and then follow the hotlink to other OverDrive products.   I think it’s all pretty cool and I’ll never, ever have to pick these records up off the floor.

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I am always looking for a way to occupy my time during my long daily commute.  I used to check out audiobooks from the Library but have recently migrated to using the Library’s downloadable audiobook service, OverDrive. I love that I can “check out” an audiobook even when the Library is closed. It can be a little tricky at first especially when trying to use it with an Apple product. To begin using the service, first check out the Library’s OverDrive Page. Both the Quick Start Guide and Guided Tour can help you get started downloading and transfering audiobook files fast.  Here are ten tips that I have found helpful:

10.  You will need your DeKalb County library card number and PIN.

9. Make sure you download the Overdrive Media Console. (This is OverDrive’s software.)

8.  If transferring to an Apple device, make sure you have the most current version of iTunes loaded onto your computer.  In addition, iTunes needs to be set to enable “Manually Manage Music” setting.  See here for further instructions.

7. If using a Windows computer, make sure you have version 9 or higher of Windows Media player.  Also, make sure you have installed the Windows Media Player Security Upgrade by going into OverDrive Media Console, clicking on “Tools”, then clicking on “Windows Media Player Security Upgrade”.

6. You can browse titles by categories (listed on the left under “Fiction” and “Nonfiction”) or you can use the search box on the top right corner if you are looking for something specific.  An easy way to search for available titles is to click “Advance Search” (top right, inside of the orange search box) and make sure “Only show titles with copies available” is checked.  You can leave the other spaces blank, if you just wish to browse.

5. Each downloadable audiobook has different technical and license restrictions, so when looking at an audiobook, pay attention to the “Plays On” icons.  These icons tell you what computers and devices the audiobook will and will not work on based on whether or not they are lit up.  One tricky situation: if the icons indicate iPod-compatibility but not Mac-compatibility, then the only way you can transfer it to your iPod is through a PC.

4. During the check out process, you will be asked to choose a lending period, either 7, 14, or 21 days.  You can only have 2 downloadable audiobooks checked out at any one time, and you may not “return” a book earlier than your selected lending period, so choose carefully.

3. After checking out your audiobook, click on “Download”.  This should automatically open up OverDrive Media Console.  You can then choose how many parts (if not all) you wish to download.   If you wish to play, transfer, or download more parts of the same audiobook within the same lending period, you need only open up Overdrive Media Console and go from there. You would not have to go through the OverDrive website again within the same lending period unless you are checking out a new title.

2. To transfer the audiobook file(s) to a device make sure that you click the transfer button in Overdrive Media Console.

1. The digital file will stay on your computer or digital device even though you might not be able to listen to it past your lending period. You can delete the file the same way you do any other file you have on your computer or device.

Still needing some help with our new audiobook service? Representatives from OverDrive will be at the Dunwoody Library on October 28 with their Digital Bookmobile for you to get some hands on experience with the experts.  Full details here.

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Apr 19 2010

The long and winding DVDless road

by Patricia D

We were a few hours into a 13 hour car trip when tragedy struck.  The hand-me-down portable DVD player, meant to provide a pain-free way to while away the miles for the members of the Back Seat Club, failed to deliver somewhere south of Lexington.  As a veteran of I-70 through Illinois and Missouri, I knew we could pass the time with show tunes, cow counting, keeping a sharp eye for State Troopers, and one endless tutorial in knock-knock jokes.  We made the trip with only minor complaints but of course my family was ready to run out and get a new DVD player for the Back Seat Club because 12 hours on an interstate without a Disney movie apparently equals child abuse.

As I contemplate the purchase, I’m at odds with myself because even though this is a good way to keep the dreaded “Are we there yet?” scenario from playing out between state lines, I don’t think it’s good for a young brain to be subject to such a passive activity for a 12 hour stretch.  A dear friend very sensibly put a stop to this inner struggle when she said, “Look, get a little MP3 player instead, download books from OverDrive and the BSC can listen to stories while counting cows.”  The woman is brilliant.   Listening to stories will do so much more good than an 84th viewing of the Lion King—it improves vocabulary, increases comprehension, and most important of all in this Google world, it develops an attention span that will last long enough to get through a college lecture.

Getting books in MP3 format can’t get any easier either.  OverDrive is a new downloadable audiobooks service at the Library and has a permanent home under the “eLibrary” menu of our homepage.  You can also get to it from the Reference Databases page.  You may check out two items at a time, with your choice of 7, 14 or 21 days circulation.  You’ll need to download the OverDrive Media Console the first time you use the product but it’s easy peasey.  Click on the Quick Start Guide once you’re in OverDrive for simple step by step instructions.  Before you know it you’ll have something you can listen to on your PC, MP3 player, and in some instances even your iPod.  You just need your library card.  Go forth!  Listen to books!

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