Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Technology and You

Overdrive software ( allows patrons to download ebooks and audio books from their local library. It’s not necessary to own an ebook reader. Anyone can download these files to a computer, smart phone, or Apple device.

I’m happy that my out of print books reissued in ebook format are now available for this market. As for me, all I can do on my cell phone is make calls, send text messages, and go on the Internet for brief intervals. Would I really want to check out a virtual book from the library for 21 days to read on my phone? Would you? And what happens after your three weeks are done— the book vanishes from your device? What if you haven’t finished the story?

An article from the Sun-Sentinel titled “Libraries go high-tech with audio, e-books” by Doreen Christensen says you can read ebook library titles on the Sony and Nook readers and soon on the iPad. Or on your phone, if you have an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry. This is great for old folks or people who can’t get around, but do they possess these devices? If not, that leaves it up to tech savvy young’uns and middle agers to download ebooks and audio. Young people today are growing up with these devices, but what about the rest of us raised in the day when computers didn't exist?

In addition to computer classes at our libraries and adult education schools, I think we need to add hands-on workshops on How to Work the various gizmos. Here are some topics I’d suggest:

  • How to Choose a Smart Phone.
  • Which Ebook reader is for you?
  • How to download a pdf file to your Ebook reader.
  • Playing an Audio Book on your Handheld Device.
  • How do you convert your doc format into a readable file that works on your device?
  • What else can you do on your phone besides make a call?
  • What’s an App?
  • I want to check movie listings and order a pizza. How can I do it on my device?
  • How to browse the library shelves from your home office.

We have all these wonderful options now, including borrowing books from the library by a simple download onto our smart phone or ebook reader. But the more technology advances, the more we need someone to demonstrate what we can do with these wondrous devices. What kinds of questions would you want answered?


  1. Your post reminds me of some of my previous experience. I used to answer questions on one of these online question and answer sites. Some of the questions I would answer had to do with camcorders. The most common question had to do with how to edit their video on the computer. For most of them, the answer they needed was how to plug in the IEEE 1394 cable.

  2. I just want someone to pass me some aspirin. All this technology jazz gives me a headache.

  3. On my new phone I can't figure out how to turn on the speaker function. Oh, and I haven't been able to configure the phone to hook into the car's BlueTooth, or radio thingie, or whatever it is. This would be an excellent way for young people to earn some money! Teaching gizmo-ology to the rest of us.

  4. Tim, I wish the answers to some of the questions I have were as simple as plugging in a cable. Kathryn, that's a great project for some high schoolers: setting up their own geek squad for personal consultations. And besides my gizmos, I need someone to come over and teach me a few tricks on Word that I haven't mastered yet.

  5. I recently got one of the new Droid phones (HTC Hero) and love it. Problem is, even though I am an IT Geek by trade I cannot figure out a lot of it. I supposed I could read the manual, but....well...I'm a guy.

    Luckily our cellular company up here (Alaska Communications) has a free class for new Droid owners. But it is so popular that even though I got the phone in August I could not get into the class until the end of November.

    On another note, I use Overdrive a lot. The thing I like about it is that as long as I download the audio book to my MP3 player before the expiration date it will continue to play for as long as I have it on that device.

  6. Basil, the audio book continues to play until you erase it, or until the time expires from the library? It would be good if you could keep it on there until you finished listening. As for the Droid classes, it sounds like there is a big demand for them.

  7. The audiobooks continue to play until you erase it. The thing is you have to load it onto your device before it expires on the computer. I currently have four books cued up in my MP3 player, all of which expired on computer several weeks ago. I have found it an extremely valuable resource. I have not tried ebooks via overdrive though.