Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Overdrive Drives My Library World

Here is a picture of what my library books look like:

...well maybe not all of my library books. But most. With only one car and a good 20 minute drive or so to my nearest library, I find it more convenient to check out books from my library through the internet. The Hawaii Public Library System has an Overdrive collection as do many other public libraries across the country. The fabulous thing about libraries that use OverDrive is that all the technical quirks, issues, and methods of checking out an e-book or e-audiobook, are the same at every library. So once you learn how to do it at one library, you know how to do it at all the others.

Since some library websites can be a pain in the arse to navigate, I thought I'd share a simple way of finding out whether or not your library has a digital overdrive collection.

Go to OverDrive's website located at http://overdrive.com/ and type in your zip code in the field as shown in the image below:

Once you type in your zip and hit enter, you'll get to the page listing your search results:

Check and see if your library is at the top of the list, if not, see if any libraries where you are eligible for a library card are on the list. Sometimes you can get a library card in a nearby town for a fee. Depending on the policy, it may even be free!

Click on your library's name and you will be taken DIRECTLY to the library's OverDrive page. This is a way you can avoid navigating an outdated or clunky library website that may or may not have a link to their overdrive page (my current library website included).  Think of it as a back door  the library's digital collection.

Once you are there, all the OverDrive sites I have seen are fairly similar, and have the same headings for pages. If you are unfamiliar with OverDrive, I highly suggest you peruse the section labeled "Getting Started" first. The position of where the "Getting Started" link is depends on your library:

Hawaii's Public Library System OverDrive Page
The Frisco Public Library OverDrive Page

Be sure when considering an ereader, you get a device that's compatible with OverDrive ebooks (it should be able to handle ebooks with the file extension .epub or .pdf). Amazon really shot itself in the foot by making the Kindle compatible ONLY with Amazon books (though they are changing this in the coming months). Last summer when I worked at the Frisco Library, I had many patrons ask me about ereaders and how they wanted to put library books on their devices. Many people interested in purchasing a Kindle left the library deciding they wanted to purchase a nook or a Sony Reader instead. That's just how it went down when they discovered a Kindle wouldn't be compatible with our collection.

You will need to install software on your computer. Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) for ebooks or the Overdrive Media Console for e-audiobooks. Be sure that with ADE you use the same account to authorize your device as you are when you authorize your computer.

I hope this is enough to get some people started. Later this week, I plan on sharing each step that goes from checking out a book from a library's OverDrive page, to reading it on my nook. And next week I will share how to do it on an iphone/itouch. Cheers and happy reading!

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