Monday, June 11, 2012

#4: Electronic or Digital Materials & Access

Job Scroll three columns shown
By Pete unseth [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Millennia ago, libraries held scrolls.  A few centuries ago, the scrolls became quartos, folios, and palimpsests
Codex Guelferbytanus B 00404
via Wikimedia Commons

Today and tomorrow, library buildings provide the people, tools, and access to information that has left the physical world due to costs or access limitations.

Ruidoso Public Library joined New Mexico Library To Go (a group of libraries on Overdrive) just last week.  Now you may download a book (ebook or e-audiobook) for a few days onto most devices or play them on your computer.  Nook, Sony, Kindle, Kobo, mp3 players and iPods, among others, are welcome.  Most devices are supported, though older models and some newer ones may not work.  

These books are available in different file formats, from epub to pdf, .azw to .wma or mp3.  That alphabet soup explains which files will work on which devices.  It also indicates the current confusion and changing nature of ebooks and e-audiobooks.  This is an ever-changing landscape of ereaders and sound systems, which continues to learn and offer new opportunities to test out.  

At Ruidoso Public Library, we can help you find articles, encyclopediae, books, or recordings on many formats and on many topics, for many age-groups.  We have non-fiction (or reference books) and fiction. We can show you projects releasing free books to the world, such as Gutenberg Project or where volunteers put the files of public domain titles online, to read or listen.

Currently the books you can access through Overdrive may not be the latest or most popular because the publishers do not release everything electronically.  Other titles are available in files locked with "DRM" (digital rights management) in an attempt to stop piracy.  This means you may not have a book at the same time as another user, and may only access the file for a few days. Some files require plugging your device into a computer to download while others may transfer over WiFi.  In future this may mean you cannot download the title at home, in the evening, but only at the library, during open hours.  

If you are ready to sample something digital please ask at the library.  We may not be able to demonstrate everything at the library (our public computers run Linux, which is not supported by Overdrive), but if your laptop works on wireless, we can guide you through the basic download and installation process.  We do not touch your computers (due to liability issues); please think of it as your learning opportunity instead. 

What is your perspective on ereaders?  Have you tried one (a friend's, at the store, an app on your phone)?  How about audiobooks? (This link will have 2 free audiobooks each week starting June 14; one classic and one new young adult.)  Have you seen our weed identification, gardening, or Chilton's Automotive Manuals online?

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