In recent weeks, some exciting changes have been made to several of our electronic resources. The online catalog, Interlibrary Loan/Marina interface, and Overdrive have all been updated within past few months. And that’s only the beginning!
Will MCPL’s online catalog boldly go where no catalog has gone before? Well, not quite, but Enterprise does have a few nifty new features. By logging into your account, you can create your own lists of favorite reads, books you’ve read or would like to read, etc. You can also text links to the catalog record of any book you are looking for right to smartphone or tablet device. No more jotting that title down on paper before you run into the library to look for it! For those who prefer the old version of the catalog, it hasn’t gone away and can be found here or by clicking the “Classic Catalog” link on the upper lefthand side of the new catalog.
In mid-January, Marina, the State of Maryland’s Interlibrary Loan service, introduced a new interface for its online catalog called Relais. Relais more clearly identifies items by type (book, audio, video) and whether they are currently holdable or not. It also provides customers with an estimated date when many items that are presently unholdable because they are unavailable or new will become holdable. Perhaps the biggest change is that requests for materials that are not found in Marina (and must be searched for in a wider area using OCLC) can only be made by logging into Relais. The form is generated when a search brings up no results and can also be accessed by click on “Your Account” at the top of the screen.
OverDrive users may have noticed that the checkout process has been streamlined. The step of adding a title to your basket has been eliminated so that items can be checked out after the first click. The new interface also makes it easier to tell if an item is available or not. If the book or headphones icon in the upper right corner of each title image is grayed out, it’s unavailable and must be placed on hold. If the icon is solid black, you can download it right away. You can also more easily refine your search results to only available titles by clicking on the “Available Now” box at the top of the search results screen. (Searching with OverDrive Media Console on your tablet or smartphone? You can refine your search in the same easy way.) There’s also a new “OverDrive READ” format. These eBooks opened right from any browser, eReader, or tablet without having to download any special software or apps.
So I was sitting quietly on my patio, reading a book (one cut from trees) and my husband asked me when I was going to enter the 21st Century and start reading e-books. “You have to keep up with your library customers you know.” I was not as surprised, shocked or offended as you may think. All of my children have one or another form of e-reader and it has only increased their reading. But when I had thought of it in the past I always came to the same conclusion: I have access to all the reading material I need, when I want them, with no pressure to return the books (although I always do). Why would I want to buy books online or download them from the library where I will have to return them on time?
Hmmm, I thought, what if the e-reader I purchased had more than books on it…e-mail, movies, music, magazines, games, specifically word games. And more to the point, a popular word game that you can play online with friends. It was too delicious to think about. So I marched down to my nearby appliance superstore and checked out the Kindle Fire. Twas lovely...and so colorful. I love new shiny objects! I bought it and luckily for me, my cousins were visiting, who happened to have a Nook Tablet which is almost the same thing. They helped me set it up and started me on that word game that very night. My addiction had begun.
But I didn’t stop there. After listening to all our elderly customers begging for help with their new e-reader (“I wish my daughter had bought me a sweater, instead”) I was determined to download library books and do it on my own. No help for me from our wonderful teens at Davis Library who come in every week and hold an e-reader clinic (shameless plug). I followed directions from our website and lo and behold, I had downloaded my first e-book: Catherine the Great by Robert Massie http://maryland.lib.overdrive.com/704C4A4C-3042-4606-A502-32C96BFE9E11/10/336/en/SearchResults.htm?SearchID=6842557s&SortBy=Relevancy, a riveting biography of the Empress and all her lovers. I only had to “renew” it 3 times (it actually returned itself and then I checked it out again and again and again) and the best part was: it kept my place in the book! And here’s another wonderful part. Remember how we all lost our power last summer? (of course you do!) Well I was able to read at night with no lights because of the wonderful backlit screen…as long as I was able to power up occasionally. It was magic.
My next goal was to download an e-audio book. I went online and searched under “Download Library E-audio Book to Kindle Fire” and found the wonderful video below. It took me step by step and voila, I downloaded my first e-audio book. But here is the best part: I was actually able to help our customers download their own e-books, especially from Kindle. I am now more at ease with the technology and do not feel so out of sync with the rest of the world. Have I stopped reading “real” books? Absolutely not. I consider myself an equal opportunity reader: • I read real books at home and at lunch at the library • I read e-books at home with lights out (because I can) • I listen to books on CD in the car • I listen to downloadable e-audio books on walks or exercising
And if it wasn’t for that word game I play with friends, I would be doing a lot more of everything.
If you've gotten comfortable using OverDrive (Maryland's subscription service for ebooks), perhaps you've found the limit of four ebooks checked out at a time to be a bit constrictive. Ready to get eclectic with your reading tastes? Give openlibrary.org a try.
Open Library's humble mission is to create "one web page for every book ever written." And plenty of those books are in the public domain as ebooks. To date, Open Library has over 20,000,000 book records, and nearly 3,000,000 of those books are available digitally. Some can only be accessed via Maryland's subscription to OverDrive, but the Internet Archive and participating libraries have also selected digitized books from their collections that are available to be borrowed by one patron at a time from anywhere in the world for free. These books are in BookReader, PDF, and ePub formats (and Daisy for the print disabled). Give it a try! Parenting advice from the 1950's, quaintly outdated cookbooks, esoteric fiction. It's good to be well-rounded.
A BOOK of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness— O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
Sounds like an invitation to a picnic to me!
What do we need for a picnic? Food, an outdoor place in which to eat, and good company! Amusements, activities and ants are extra.
Originally, a picnic was a communal meal to which everyone contributed... what we today would call a potluck. Try The Garden Entertaining Cookbook for inspiration and whip up a batch of Basmati Rice Salad with Fresh Peas, Corn and Chives (page 100) to go with anyone else's main dish.
Where shall we eat? Especially with children, a short trip to a new a different (but not too different) place is fun and exciting. There are lots of free picnic locations in local parks and many of them have sports or other amusements for the family.
Why don't you read Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack to the youngest children before you go? You can make a game of finding things from the book at your picnic destination. And if the neighborhood is devoid of blankets, ducks, eggs, goats and hens, you can always make your own alphabetical list of facinating objects sighted.
But what about that book of verse? Omar Khayyam is classic, but he doesn't suit every occasion. Choose Books and Authors from our Reading & Literature resources and you can zero in on just the kind of rhyme (or free verse) that touches you.
And if Omar is your cup of tea, you can always download the "Rubaiyat" to your e-reader from Project Gutenberg.
“But papyrus scrolls feel so much better!” Such were the cries of lamentation heard across the ancient world as papyrus scrolls were replaced by that new-fangled Roman invention the codex, or book. “Why do I have to flip these – what are they called? pages? The scrolls ran so smoothly under my hand, they signified a seamless flow of knowledge, a noble tradition, now it’s all chopped up into scraps signifying nothing …” The Luddites’ fretful complaints drone on down the centuries, ever eloquent in bemoaning the end of civilization as we know it, while civilization as we aren’t quite used to it yet is busy being born. The invention of the printing press was the work of the devil according to these doomsayers, and maybe they were right because it did spread those dangerous things called ideas to the previously unlettered masses. They began thinking for themselves, founding new churches, having revolutions, writing novels that sent Victorian ladies into a swoon, and reading everything from the Bible and Shakespeare to tabloid gossip and vampire boyfriend sagas. Where will it all end? Not with a bang or a whimper apparently, but with a tweet.
The digital revolution is upon us and my grandchildren will grow up in the first fully digital generation. It is bringing out the Luddites once again; check out this cartoon, which at least adds humor to the traditional diatribe. Determined not to join the chorus of old fogies – even though that role is getting age appropriate for me – I bought an iPad and began exploring the world of children’s apps to share with my grandsons. Here is what I have discovered so far: like any other medium - books, films, music, you name it – the good, the bad, and the mediocre are all out there. Just as librarians select and recommend the best books for children, so we can help sort out the sheep from the goats when it comes to apps. If you’ve heard the horror stories about the Smurfs game and don’t want your child playing Angry Birds all day, here’s a sampling of the best apps for the very young tested on my own 1 and 3 year old grandchildren.
The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Children touch the spider to start the song and watch him climb the water spout, then touch other objects for entertaining actions – make water gush from the downspout, see a caterpillar change into a butterfly, and more. Beautiful graphics, and the singer sounds so much better than I do!
Fish School. Colorful fish and lively music teach letters, numbers, and colors with interactive games including matching and which one’s different? A low-key, fun way to learn.
FirstWords Animals. Perfect for children who know their letters and are ready to start recognizing words. Settings allow parents to choose the difficulty level – three or four letter words, matching the letters or filling in the blanks etc. Note: this bird is not angry and doesn't attack any pigs!
Popout! The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This interactive classic presents the original text and illustrations in pop-up form, with the advantage that the tabs don’t get torn by tiny fingers! Parents can turn the narration off so they can read to their child. Beginning readers get help with unfamiliar words: touch the screen to hear the word. Twittering birds, hopping bunnies, and gently falling leaves bring Beatrix Potter’s natural world to life. A beautiful app that shows the potential for digital books. The Washington Post Book World editors like Peter Rabbit too! They include it in this list of the best picture book apps in the Spring Children’s Book Review section.
I know my grandsons will be reading and learning in both print and digital formats in the future. Introducing them to the iPad hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm for books; it is just another way to enjoy stories together. Maybe when they grow old they will look back with nostalgia on that hopelessly old-fashioned device their grandmother shared with them. And maybe in that brave new world, as information is beamed directly into their brains, some people will cling to their electronic devices and predict the end of civilization, as so many generations have done before them.
One thing I’ve learned in three months with my iPad – Marshall McLuhan was wrong. The medium is not the message. The medium is just the device. Stories are forever.
A recent spate of intrigue and research took me to different ends of MCPL’s spectrum of resources. One day I found my deciding to jump on the bandwagon and try the latest in book reading technology. Never much one for listening to audiobooks (regardless of the format), my curiousity was piqued when word came forth that Overdrive, one of our ebook and eaudiobook providers, had launched an update of its app for iPhones (also works on iPod Touches). I decided to download it on mine and give it a whirl. I’m now three or four chapters in to my first ebook, So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld. So far, it’s been a pleasant experience. The ebook even tells me how many pages I have left in each chapter as I go along.
Apparently, many of you have made a connection with our virtual collection of reading materials. A recent check showed that on the selected day only 22 of the 1,467 epub formatted ebooks in our collection were checked in and ready to download. The rest are sitting in various iPhones, Androids, iPads, and other such devices, being devoured by rabid 21st century readers.
For those who haven't made the connection yet, MCPL has two great electronic library resources worth plugging into: Overdrive (for ebooks and eaudiobooks) and NetLibrary (mainly audiobooks but also has ebook versions of CliffsNotes). Note to eReaders: only epub files can be read on Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod). The app comes in handy in this regard since it will only search and display titles that can be downloaded to one of these devices. Happy eReading!
At the other end of the spectrum, spending the holidays with my family got me interested in once again exploring old census records in HeritageQuest in search of my ancestors. I had previously been able to find members of my mother’s family and my dad’s maternal grandparents but my dad’s paternal grandparents had proven to be elusive. My search was made complicated because my last name isn’t easily spellable. After much searching, I found them. Our last name was one letter off in the 1930 census (and not the letter that’s usually wrong) and was spelled even worse in the 1920 census.
Looking at these old census records provides one with more information than you might think. Apparently, my great-grandfather was a catcher by profession, early in his working career. No, he wasn’t a forerunner of Johnny Bench or Ivan Rodriguez. He actually worked in a tin mill, catching the sheets of tin as they came out of the roller and putting them back in to be flattened even further. The censuses provide a wealth of other information as well, including age when married, language spoken, year of immigration, birth country or state of parents, and much more. In the process of discovering this wealth of information, I found a new challenge for myself, my paternal grandmother is thus far no where to be found in the 1920 census though she’s got to be in there somewhere.
Whether you’re delving into the latest e-technology or digging up the past, MCPL is here for you!
2/16/11 Update: Just a week after this blog was written, Overdrive announced the release of its new app which is optimized for iPad! Check it out here or search for it in the Apple App Store directly from yoru iPad.
I’m the six hundred and sixteenth person in the county waiting for the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest; one hundred and seventy other YA readers are ahead of me for Mockingjay. So, what do I read now?
Read-alikes – that’s what we look for when we want something like…something we like!
You can always choose a work by the same author, a non-fiction book on the same subject – they’ll be at hand on the same shelf. But, having slogged through all of Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, where do I go? What’s like Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand?
Try our Books and Authors database or Novelist Plus to analyze your favorites and find other authors, titles or even different genres that hold the elements you find appealing.
Novelist Plus even has a friendly lavender button on the home page to tutor you in its use.
Try looking up an old favorite story and see what they have to suggest to you. Then, clicking on the book’s title or picture will bring you to the catalog entry, where you can place it on hold. Hopefully, you’ll be first in line!
Social Networking is hot, hot, hot these days. A highfalutin’ term for ‘communicating with like-minded folk’, social networking and reading go together like ham and eggs. (For vegans, like beans and rice!)
My favorite website for reading and social networking is Librarything. You can find a forum for any possible book or reading-related subject, and maybe even score a pre-pub book to review! And it's really cool to keep track of all the books you own.
If you are like me, and you have thousands of books you’ve read cluttering up your home, consider setting them free to please and enlighten someone else. You can track your book’s travels on bookcrossing.com. They’re even having their international convention in Washington, DC this year!
How about downloading a book to enjoy on your computer or another electronic device before the paper-and-ink copy can come your way? The Maryland Digital eLibrary or Netlibrary databases can give you access to ebooks or downloadable audiobooks. The PDF and Adobe EPUB books can be read on your Nook eReader or iPad, too.