Thursday, February 22, 2007

Another Reason To Love The Library

I love the library. I mean the whole concept rocks - I can get access to thousands of books, CD's and movies. From an entertaining novel for my commute, to advice on how to repair my lawn to how to learn to draw is available to me. And, get this, it's all free. I mean really, it's incredible. I start drooling just thinking about it.

I just discovered that the Arlington library system is offering yet another cool feature: a downloadable eAudiobook Collection.

So, now, instead of going to the library and checking out CD's or tapes, you can simply go online and download them. It's pretty cool stuff and appears to work as promised. As part of it's functionality, the service takes advantage of the much kvetched about DRM security facility.

I'm no expert on this topic, but in this case I think the model works great. With DRM, the file you that you download can be set to expire - so while you may have the the file on your computer, after two weeks it won't play anymore. This seems to behave just like all the other library materials: you can access any resource for free, the catch is that there's a time limit attached to it.

I really think the program rocks. I haven't had any luck yet transferring the audio files to my mp3 player. Though I haven't played much with it yet. I'm even tempted to buy an mp3 player that's compatible with the DRM requirements just so I can get portable access to the files.

There are a few other lessons I think I've learned from this program...

The library is all about books, right? All about physical media and a building and librarians, right? Wrong. It's all about giving people access to information. The fact that the library folks see this and are adapting to the ever changing way people access information is down right impressive. There are plenty of business who aren't this agile and willing to rethink pretty much all the rules.

Second, the library is a shining example of government done right. It's actually a government facility that I feel like I get way more out of than I put in. If more programs were this useful, then I'm sure everyone would benefit. So please, politicians, remember the library.



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  2. I love audiobooks. I probably listen to 2-3 a month. And even here in Miami, the library rocks, I simply go to the online site, request/place a hold on a book, and it is quickly transfered to my local library where I can go pick it up with out having to actually go through the stacks. The only problem I have is remembering to return them on time (speaking of which I need to renew them online, probably yesterday). Here we too have overdrive books and other eBook formats including PDF and mobi for use with PDAs. The only down-side to the Overdrive format is that it is based on WMA. I use a mac at work and a linux box at home... no WMA. Everything I've read about Overdrive is that you need to burn them to CD and then rip them in as a MP3 to get them on your MP3 player. Good luck and have fun.

  3. Hey Nick -

    The WMA -> CD -> mp3 idea seems like it would be a good one to try. Thanks for the suggestion!

    As for not returning books on time - oy, do I know that feeling. Luckily, in Arlington they've gotten pretty good about sending out e-mail to you when you have a couple days left.

    Another way to look at late fees is this: as one librarian explained, anytime you pay a fine for a late book you are actually supporting the library. So, she said, be as late as you want.