Fast Forward Book Review for May 2008
Public Libraries and Ebooks
by Colleen R. Cahill
As a reader, I have brought you many reviews of good books
over the years. But I am also a librarian and that part of me wants to share
a great resource I have found for books: your public library. Yes, I know
many of you regularly visit that august institution, but did you know that
most libraries also have a way to download audio and ebooks at no cost to
you? It is only recently I started to take advantage of this great treasure
trove, downloading some old favorites and discovering some new fun books.
In the Washington area, most of the public libraries provide not only electronic books, but also music and video. Go to your public library#39;s website and look for a section that says something like "download", "databases" or "eSources", as each library has a slightly different look and feel. Once there, follow the directions, such as typing in your library card number, and you are ready browse and download.
In Prince Georges County, Maryland, where I live, the public library uses Overdrive for its audio and ebooks. There are 180 titles classed as science fiction or fantasy, so if I want an audio book of Arthur C. Clarke#39;s 2001: A Space Odyssey, or a pdf ebook of John Wyndham#39;s The Day of the Triffids, I can get these anytime, day or night. Recently I have discovered the joys of audio books, listening while I am exercising or doing mindless chores. I have listened to all four of Tamora Pierce#39;s Magic Circle books and enjoyed the fun of Trenton Lee Stewart#39;s The Mysterious Benedict Society. Overdrive books are in a proprietary format, so you will need to download and install a free client, but you can then transfer the files to an MP3 player. At first I listened to these books on my laptop and the Overdrive client was very good for this, providing book marks and an easy way to move through the book. Eventually I got a inexpensive mp3 player that was smaller than a match box and now I can wander freely while I soak up a good book.
There is good news for those who live in the DC area: the public libraries will provide cards to those who work in their regions AND most of these systems have reciprocal agreements with their neighboring counties and cities. I signed up for a DC Public Library card and now have access to ten times the amount of electronic materials. I plan to also get a Montgomery County library card and then I will have three sources of electronic books. While there is overlap between the collections, there are also titles available at only one site.
For those outside the DC area, please check your local public
library for their ebook offerings. It is amazing what is available today.
If you visit the Fast Forward website, I will include a list of webpages for public libraries in the DC area. There you will find all the details for how join the library and download so that you too can become an electronic book aficionado!
Public Libraries in the Washington DC area:
Alexandria Public Library (Virginia) ?http://www.alexandria.lib.va.us/
Click on "OverDrive audio books"
Arlington County Public Library (Virginia) ?http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/Libraries/LibrariesMain.aspx ? Click on "eSources"
District of Columbia Public Library ? http://www.dclibrary.org/dcpl/site/default.asp Click on "Downloadable Media"
Fairfax County Public Library (Virginia) ? http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/Library/ ? Click on "databases"
Loudoun County Public Library (Virginia) ?http://library.loudoun.gov/ ? Click on "ebooks"
Mary Riley Styles Public Library of the City of Falls Church (Virginia) ?http://www.falls-church.lib.va.us/ ? Click on "Research Databases"
Montgomery County Library (Maryland) ?http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/libraries/index.asp Click on "Read, Listen, View"
Prince Georges#39; Public Library (Maryland) ?http://www.pgcmls.info/ Click on "Download ebooks" or "Download audiobooks"
Prince William Public Library System (Virginia) ?http://www.pwcgov.org/ ?Click on the "Digital Audio Books" icon