31 December 2007

Barcode information

If you need help filling out the bottom portion of your invoice, which requests barcode information, read on!

In order for patrons to access the Listen Up! Vermont collection at home, they will need to log in using a unique number. Patrons will first choose your library name from a pull-down list, and then will have to type in a number, which should be between 6 and 14 digits long.

The first four digits in that number can either be:
  1. the four numbers that begin your barcodes
  2. a sequence of four numbers of your choosing, which is easy to remember and yet does not begin with 1 or 0. Maybe your zip code, without the zero? The year your library was founded?
Then, OverDrive requires that each library submit a range of barcodes -- really, patron numbers. If you are not automated, look at your patron list and fill in your first number assigned to a patron (maybe that's 1, or 12, or 86) and then the last number. You want room to grow, so add to that last number -- if you have 1500 patrons and the first number assigned to a patron that is still in use is 24, then your barcode range could be 24 to 2100, giving you 600 new patrons until you run out of access.

If you are automated, you probably want your patrons to be able to type in their entire barcode, just to make things easier. Send in your barcode range with your four digit beginning number, the placeholder digits in the middle, and what you think might be the lowest number barcode you've assigned. On Follett, I could find this by going to Reports, choosing Circulation Reports, and then choosing Used/Unused Patron Barcodes. Again, think about how many new patrons you register a year and add 5 years worth of barcodes at the end.

So, for examples -- you could have something like 540112 (maybe you are patron number 12 at the library in Burlington), or you could have something like 22373000230000 (if you are a patron at an automated library submitting a full barcode). As far as I know, both will work just fine, provided you choose the right library!

OverDrive requires this range so that not-just-anyone can access the collection -- that the person trying to use the service will actually be a patron at a library. Make sure your barcode range is something that makes sense for you, your patrons, and your records!

20 December 2007

Calling all designers

Does anyone out there know someone who is good with creating logos -- a friend, or perhaps a teacher who teaches graphic design at your school? Let's try and get a logo for the Green Mountain Library Consortium and for Listen Up! Vermont. I can post the entries, and we could always vote. Not artistically talented? Leave suggestions for what the logo should look like in the comments.

19 December 2007

New members

Welcome to our latest members:
  • Bristol Elementary School
  • Castleton Free Library
  • Dailey Memorial Library, Derby
  • Fletcher Memorial Library, Ludlow
  • Georgia Public Library
  • Green Mountain Union High School
  • Groton Free Library
  • Morristown Centennial Library
  • Tenney Memorial Library, Newbury
Remember, the GMLC wants every library that is interested in participating to be able to do so. Let us know if you think you are interested, what questions we can answer, or if you need to discuss your proposed subscription level.

18 December 2007

FAQ: how can my patrons use this service?

Now that we've chosen a vendor, we can more specifically answer some of the questions libraries have had about the downloadable audio book service.

  1. How will my patrons get to the collection? The Listen Up! Vermont project will have its own web site, similar to what New Hampshire has (http://nh.lib.overdrive.com). Patrons can access the web site from anywhere they have access to a computer -- such as home, at 2am, if they wish! They will choose their library name from a list and enter their library card number (which the GMLC will get from each library before the service begins). No automation necessary.
  2. What mp3 players are compatible? As we have said before in a post about iPods, iPods are unfortunately not able to be used at this time with any of the companies providing this service to libraries. However, a wide range of Windows-based mp3 players are; you can access the list on OverDrive's web site at http://overdrive.com/resources/drc/compatibledevices.asp. Patrons may want to purchase an inexpensive device, or your library may want to purchase a few to circulate.
  3. What should I look for in an mp3 player? Of course, make sure it is compatible. You should look for the memory size of the device: 512MB is more than sufficient for the average book, and a 1GB device should fit even the longest one. If you have the ability to go to a store and look at the models, you might want to think about the size of the device (is it too small?), or, more importantly, the size of the buttons (which might be pretty small). I circulate mine in an empty book-on-cd vinyl case, with the instructions tucked into a cd pocket -- and I leave the headphones out (patrons must provide their own).
  4. Do I need to use an mp3 player? No. You can listen to the book on a computer, or, if allowed (as it is with approximately, by OverDrive's estimates, 85% of titles)burn the title to cd and listen in your stereo, your car, etc.
  5. What about listening to a title in the car? Well, if a title cannot be burned to cd or you don't have a cd player, you can hook your mp3 player up to the car stereo. Newer stereos may have a plug built right in; otherwise, patrons can purchase a special FM transmitter cord that will play the mp3 player contents over the stereo.
  6. What about my patrons on dialup? A plus to OverDrive is that the audio books are broken up into parts, so that the individual parts are able to be downloaded in a reasonable amount of time -- 10 to 15 minutes a part, perhaps -- on dialup. Just as a book on cd might have 8 cds, your audio book might have 8 parts, but a patron does not have to download the parts all at once. They can go back and download a part at a time during the checkout period.
  7. How much time does it take for a patron for a patron to download an item? That, of course, varies by the length of the audio book and the connection speed. As a test, I just downloaded all 15 hours of Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible on a DSL connection in approximately 20 minutes -- about 1 minute a part. On dialup, that would be slower, and on a cable modem, faster.
  8. What about at the Library? Do I have to allow patrons to download there? What if I don't have enough computer time or enough computers? In NH, when I used OverDrive, I had only two patrons come in to the Library to download in the first six months -- and that was in a town where everyone "up in the hills" was still on dialup. It is up to you what level of service you want to provide at your library. If you have DSL, or even better, a cable modem at your library, patrons should easily be able to download a book in the typical 30-minute computer time slot.
  9. What do I have to do to "check in" a book? Nothing. The downloaded audio book comes with a built-in expiration date, so the file will become unusable at the "check in" date. Patrons will have to manually delete the file from their computer. Files will not expire on the mp3 player or on the cd.
More questions? Let us know! Contact Stephanie Chase, coordinator, at schase[at]stowelibrary.org.

17 December 2007

OverDrive it is!

The votes are in, and the Green Mountain Library Consortium selection committee has chosen OverDrive (http://www.overdrive.com/products/dlr/) to provide downloadable audio book service to member libraries.

OverDrive has an excellent selection of titles from a wide variety of publishers, including a group of "Always Available" (i.e., unlimited simultaneous user) titles. Approximately 85% of the titles can be burned to cd, allowing for additional portability.

Importantly, OverDrive also offers a series of excellent online courses to help librarians wrap their heads around downloadable audio book service, and be able to answer basic patron questions.

Keep an eye on the posts labeled "FAQ" for more answers to specific questions about the service. And, if the choice of vendor has helped change your mind, let the committee know by emailing coordinator Stephanie Chase at schase[at]stowelibrary.org to sign up.

14 December 2007

The deadline approaches...

We're giving you another week to sign up for the Green Mountain Library Consortium's Listen Up! Vermont project. The original deadline was December 15; we're extending that to December 21, as it has taken longer than we envisioned to choose our vendor.

We expect to announce at the beginning of next week who the vendor providing the downloadable audio book service will be, and we know that announcement will probably make a difference to some libraries on the fence. We'll also be able to answer more specifically some questions libraries have asked us. So stay tuned for that!

13 December 2007

Try out our vendors

Don't forget -- you can give the two vendors we are looking at a try. Email the GMLC coordinator, Stephanie Chase, at schase[at]stowelibrary.org to get a login and password for a netLibrary trial (good until 12/18/07) or to try out OverDrive using New Hampshire's program.

Also, welcome our newest members:
  • Carpenter-Carse Library, Hinesburg
  • Fletcher Elementary School
  • Moretown Elementary School
  • Proctor Library
  • Rochester School
  • St Albans Free Library
That makes 1 community library, 37 public libraries, and 19 schools.

10 December 2007

Our newest members

The list keeps growing, and it is wonderful:
  • Essex Free Library
  • Hancock Town Library
  • Jericho Town Library
  • Poultney Public Library
  • Windsor Public Library

07 December 2007

Welcome!

I love that I get to do so many posts welcoming libraries to the Listen Up! Vermont project. Here are our newest members:
  • North Country Union Jr High School, Newport
  • Pettee Memorial Library, Wilmington
  • Putney Public Library
  • Rutland Free Library
  • Springfield Town Library
  • Tunbridge Public Library
  • Twinfield Union School
This brings the total number of participating libraries to 44.

05 December 2007

Vermont Edition

Have you listened to the Vermont Edition from 11/29 featuring Sybil McShane and Lisa von Kann? Give it a listen:

http://www.vpr.net/episode/42259/

FAQ: How much is available, and when?

You might be wondering just how big a collection the Consortium is going to be sharing, and when people can access them.

At this point, we should have between 400 and 500 titles for the Consortium to share, and all of those titles will be available all the time -- except when they are checked out by one of our patrons. That might seem like not enough titles to share amongst our (as of today) 41 member libraries, but when New Hampshire started their program, the consortium had about 1,000 titles -- perhaps double ours, with double the population, and it was very successful, with wait times for popular titles with holds averaging three days or less and most titles having no wait time.

Naturally, the more libraries that participate and the more pledge money the GMLC receives, the more content we can purchase.

What about those popular titles? Naturally, one of the tasks the Selection Committee has is to purchase titles according to demand. It is most likely that our popular titles will have more than one copy in the collection. These guidelines will be set out in the Selection Policy, which must be approved by the GMLC members.

As for access, once patrons sign up, they will be able to access the collection at any time, since they will just have to go online. Schools may choose to limit their access as they see fit -- many school librarians have asked about this topic, and those libraries could certainly have the librarian or their teaching staff serve as the access point to the collection, rather than having students create accounts.

FAQ: What about statistics?

It is important to know that regardless of which company we choose, netLibrary or OverDrive, individual GMLC member libraries will be able to see their user statistics, and perhaps the titles your patrons are checking out too. You will have to check a report and add those statistics back into your total circulation statistics.

04 December 2007

netLibrary trial

Until 12/18/07, members of the Green Mountain Library Consortium have access to the netLibrary through a trial subscription. Want to see what titles are available? What the layout looks like? Email Stephanie Chase at schase[at]stowelibrary.org for the user name and password.

Remember, we are still in the process of choosing between netLibrary and OverDrive to provide this service to the state.

03 December 2007

More new members

Welcome!
  • Brownell Library, Essex Jct.
  • Chelsea School
  • Cutler Memorial Library, Plainfield
  • Hartford Library
  • Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Montpelier
  • Lincoln Community School
  • Proctor Jr/Sr High School
  • Quechee Public Library
  • Stamford Community Library