Tuesday, June 15, 2010

OJT or Expanding my eHorizons

A little while ago I decided to investigate the downloadable audio books available via the SLFL and CEF’s websites. What brought this about was that a patron came in one evening and ambled over to the books on cd collection. Sometimes when you go to the library no matter what is available nothing strikes you. Our patron had this experience. I went over and we talked about different authors, narrators and books available. Still, no dice. Now I’m thinking, “Hmmm, what to do?” Luckily our patron likes both fiction and non-fiction offerings so we were able to locate an appropriate item. As we returned to the Cric Desk the question of the downloadable books available from our website came up. So we quickly went online to see what the deal was. After a few frustrating minutes I discovered that this was going to take some focus and vowed to learn how to do it before our patron returned to the library. When I got home that evening I sallied forth to download something, anything. I’ll cut to the quick. I did successfully download an audio book.

Here is what I did.

First off don’t be in a rush. In fact, if you like watching baseball you might want to combine the two activities. Don’t worry, if something really good happens on the diamond you’ll see it again on the replay. And as in downloading any software or files, read all the available information on the screen first and then click “okay” or “next”. You might also want to check out the FAQs before you begin.

The first thing you’ll have to do is set up an account with NetLibrary. I went through the CEF webpage to do this. You will need your local library card. Actually what you need is your library card number. That fourteen digit bar code number that lets you take out books etc from the SLFL. So, unless you’ve memorized your library number, you’ll need your library card. You need an account from NetLibrary so that you can download the necessary management software to then download and run the audio books. It is not hard, just follow the prompts. You set up a user name and password, you know the drill. Then you can download the management software. Just to let you know, you are now about half way to actually getting a downloadable book on your computer or device.

Once you have the account and have the management software you can begin to browse the offerings. When I first saw the search mechanism for browsing I was a little suspicious. It appeared to be kind of clunky. Being the person that I am I scrolled to the bottom of the webpage to see who owned / managed the website. There it was: EBSCO. EBSCO is a well know aggregator of both print and on-line databases for journal, newspaper and magazine articles. That was why the search tools looked both vaguely familiar and not so user friendlily. But that was okay. Now I knew what I was dealing with and so forged ahead. I choose to download an audio book of poems and letters by Emily Dickinson.

The actual downloading took a bit of time. If a major league pitcher was really struggling on the mound the opposing team could have sent all nine players to the plate. But I did get the entire work. I now had two hours and eight minutes of narration on my computer. So I listened. The listening quality was very good and the controls are very easy to use. The bad parts are that there is no way to bookmark where you are if you decide to stop for a while. The FAQs suggest you write down the track number or time stamp to find your place again. Like with a pen or pencil on a piece of paper. That is so 1980s. The audio book is actually checked out by you, just like any lending library material, and so it is available to you for a limited amount of time. After three weeks your access to the file expires. That’s all okay. Here is the other bad part: the file does not automatically delete from your computer. If you want the file removed from your machine you need to do that yourself. Alright, I can find the file and do that. Oh, and just in case you where thinking of downloading the audio book to your computer and then burning a cd of the audio book and listening to it in the car, don’t bother. The file is encrypted. I choose to download to my laptop. You can choose to download to a more portable device. Since I didn’t do that yet I can’t report back as to how easy or difficult that process might be. But I will be sure to let you know. Right now, I’m going to go listen to some of Ms. Dickinson’s work.

See you at the Library,

No comments:

Post a Comment