30 September 2008

A note about mp3 audiobooks

I was thrilled to hear that the Listen Up! collection is a step closer to serving our iPod users, and wanted to be sure in all of our excitement, we all know the full story: before our mp3 titles will be available to download, OverDrive needs to overhaul the Listen Up! Vermont web site to ensure compatibility and also provide an easier browsing experience for patrons. They've given us a 5 to 6 week timeline for that.

If you'd like to see what that might look like, check out the DC Public Library's OverDrive site. Here's a link to their site:


Click on the large "Now Playing OverDrive mp3 Audiobooks" icon to see their list of titles showing the icons that help patrons determine what the file will play on.

I imagine our site will look similar. Stay tuned!

29 September 2008

How time flies. MP3s are here!

Sit idly by and technology zooms past you. Just this morning, the selection committee posted the fantastic news that iPod compatibility was just around the corner for the users of our Listen Up! Vermont site. Well, you step away for lunch and come back and lo and behold we've been able to add a small starter collection of MP3 titles to the site. Bear in mind that this format is new to OverDrive and publishers are just beginning to make their decisions as to what titles will be released in this format; it stands to reason that "the classics" would be the first titles to become available since many of these are in the public domain and copyright issues are less of a concern. Our first acquisition of MP3 titles bears this fact out. This is only the beginning and certainly just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of what will become our most developed and used segment of the Listen Up! Vermont downloadable audiobook collection. Here's the list of our first MP3 titles:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (unabridged)
Mark Twain

Anna Karenina (unabridged)
Leo Tolstoy

The Botany of Desire (unabridged)
Michael Pollan

Dracula (unabridged)
Bram Stoker

The Eagle Has Landed (unabridged)
Jack Higgins

The Fountainhead (unabridged)
Ayn Rand

The Good Earth (unabridged)
Pearl S. Buck

The House of Mirth (unabridged)
Edith Wharton

The Jungle (unabridged)
Upton Sinclair

Left Behind (unabridged)
Tim LaHaye

Little Women (unabridged)
Louisa May Alcott

Master and Commander (unabridged)
Patrick O'Brian

Moby Dick (unabridged)
Herman Melville

My √Āntonia (unabridged)
Willa Cather

My Man Jeeves (unabridged)
P. G. Wodehouse

The Natural (unabridged)
Bernard Malamud

Persuasion (unabridged)
Jane Austen

Peter Pan (unabridged)
J. M. Barrie

Pride and Prejudice (unabridged)
Jane Austen

A Room With A View (unabridged)
E. M. Forster

Sense and Sensibility (unabridged)
Jane Austen

A Tale of Two Cities (unabridged)
Charles Dickens

New Titles Added

Yes! A few new titles have just been ordered. The selection committee had been anticipating an earlier availability of titles in the MP3 format and had therefore been holding back on making any new acquisitions. With the iPod compatibility placed on a timeline at or near the end of the year for the Listen Up! Vermont site, the committee has decided to add a few new titles so as to keep all of our patrons interested in the service.

Here's the list of titles that should begin to appear in the collection over the next few weeks:

The Arctic Incident (unabridged)
Eoin Colfer

Being Right Is Not Enough (unabridged)
Paul Waldman

Belong to Me (unabridged)
Marisa de los Santos

Breaking Dawn (unabridged) -- 2 copies
Stephenie Meyer

Brisingr (unabridged)
Christopher Paolini

Cloud Nine (unabridged)
Luanne Rice

Devil May Care (unabridged)
Sebastian Faulks

Domestic Affairs (unabridged)
Eileen Goudge

The Eternity Code (unabridged)
Eoin Colfer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (unabridged)
Mary Ann Shaffer

Off Season (unabridged)
Anne Rivers Siddons

The Opal Deception (unabridged)
Eoin Colfer

Rough Justice (unabridged)
Jack Higgins

Rules of Deception (unabridged)
Christopher Reich

Say Goodbye (unabridged)
Lisa Gardner

Silks (unabridged)
Dick Francis

Voodoo River (unabridged)
Robert Crais

When You Are Engulfed in Flames (unabridged)
David Sedaris

Also, added to the Always Available titles were "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis and "After the Fire" by Robin Gaby Fisher.

We've had a request for Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men;" unfortunately and surprisingly, that title is not available thru OverDrive at this time.

Enjoy the new books and as always, do not hesitate to suggest titles you think should be in our downloadable collection. Thanks.

iPod Compatibility is nigh!

As many of you have heard by now, OverDrive has officially announced digital audiobook support for Apple's iPod and Microsoft's Zune as well as virtually all other MP3 players.

Yes, that's great news especially for our members who have been asking for this compatibility since day one. When will this format become available to our user specifically? The answer to that question is a bit complicated to answer but in all likelihood the MP3 format will begin to appear in our collection sometime around the end of the year. OverDrive has to rework each client's web interface to allow for the new format and as well, each client has to purchase new titltes in this format.

What changes will users of the Listen Up! Vermont site notice going forward? The existing collection of titles will remain in their current format with limited device compatibility. Publishers will be making titles available in MP3 format at their discretion which means not every title purchased in the future will be iPod compatible. The mission of the selection committee will be to strike a balance weighing the popularity of the iPod against the popularity of certain titles and their available formats. Rest assured that the selection of titles will lean heavily to the iPod's MP3 format but bestsellers/popular titles will be acquired regardless of format. As the existing collection will remain in the WMA format, the selection committee will need to examine whether or not the popularity of some titles warrant purchase in the MP3 format as well. With limited funds, the emphasis will likely focus on growing the collections with new and popular titles. As always, this service is only as successful as the choices made in the selection of titles meets the needs of the users so please take any and every opportunity to submit purchase suggestions. Thanks!

You can now give your patrons the good news that iPod compatibility is on the horizon. We will post to this blog the moment we have the first MP3 titles in our collection.

25 September 2008

new MARC records

For all those who are adding the records to your catalogs, we have several files that just been uploaded to our box widget. The file names are grmlc-200800903a, grmlc-200800820a, grmlc-200800729a,grmlc-200800726a,grmlc-200800717a, and grmlc-200800703a.

24 September 2008

Suggesting titles

In response to member library requests, we have added a link on the help page for folks to suggest titles for the collection:


Click on "Suggest a Title" -- this should open up a panel from your email program and allow you to send an email suggesting your title.

23 September 2008

Changes to the Listen Up! Vermont collection

OverDrive has let us know about these new changes to the Listen Up! collection, which will allow our patrons to more easily access titles [please note: our Project Manager at OverDrive has let me know that these features are not yet live. Keep an eye out!] :

1. Wish List - We have added a new 'Wish List' feature. When a patron finds a title that s/he is interested in checking out (including titles that have not yet been released), the patron will be able to add the title to the new 'Wish List' with a simple click! Patrons can access their Wish Lists at any time (upon login to their account). From the Wish List, a patron can add an available title to his/her cart and complete the checkout process.

2. The ability to edit the email address used to place a hold - Patrons will be able to edit the email address they entered when placing a title on hold.

3. Displaying 'also recommended titles' - When a patron is viewing a title details page, they will see a new section labeled 'If you like this title, then you might also like...'. The titles chosen for display are those that have Creator(s) and/or Imprint and/or Publisher and/or
Keywords in common with the title on the page the user is viewing.

4. Full text searching - The quick search at your Virtual Branch will be updated to support full text searching. This increases response times, and also allows users to search more metadata fields than before. Full text searching queries the Title, Publisher, Creator, ISBN, Subject, and Publisher-supplied Keyword fields of Content Reserve, as well as some MARC record data (Control Number and Library of Congress subject headings). With full text searching, a user can search on multiple terms, and the search results will be ranked by relevance.

5. Search by awards, and display of awards on title details pages - Currently, you can search Content Reserve by more than 60 awards. Soon, your patrons will be able to search on these awards from your Advanced Search page. Additionally, if a title has received an award, this is displayed on the title details page. The award is shown as a hyperlink; users can simply click this link to view a list of titles that have received the same award. Some notable awards include:
  • Newbery Medal
  • PEN/Faulkner Award
  • Audie Awards
  • Best Books for Young Adults
  • Edgar Allan Poe Award
  • Nebula Award
  • Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award Winner
  • Best Book Quill Award
  • Caldecott Medal
The new Wish List option will be especially valuable in helping patrons overcome the issue of wanting to remember which titles they would like to hear -- and then having them all come in off reserve at the same time!

18 September 2008

Open Training Month: Collection Checklist

I am continuing to sit in on the Open Training Month sessions offered by OverDrive this month. This morning, I am sitting in on a training called "Collection Checklist: 10 steps to a successful download collection." While it certainly was a training great for our selection committee, I gathered these for all of us:

Again, OverDrive emphasized the importance of having your staff familiar with our downloadable audio book collection -- that means not only your library staff, but, if you are in a school, your teachers!

OverDrive also recommends allowing staff and patrons to easily make suggestions for additions to the collection. This is something we've talked about; currently, we do get suggestions through our participating librarians by individual emails, and attempt to purchase the titles we are sent. Would you like to see a link directly from the Listen Up! Vermont web site, accessible to patrons and staff? Let us know in the comments to this post. If folks want it, we'll have OverDrive put it up!

Push the Always Available titles -- our collection of 75 titles has a mix of classics and new titles, all from Blackstone Publishers. These titles would be perfect to recommend to your local book groups.

As with any collection, the one we are familiar with is sure to be among the most popular. Be sure to try out Listen Up! for yourself, and take a look at all of the posts under the label "promotion" for ideas!

17 September 2008

Open Training Month: Digital Library 101

Did you want to take the Digital Library 101 course during OverDrive's Open Training Month, but were on the waiting list or unable to register? I attended the course this afternoon, which was recorded. Email me at schase[at]stowelibrary.org and I will forward on the PDF of the slides and the email with the link to the recording. This would be a perfect way for your staff and/or teachers to take the Digital Library 101 training anytime they want!

One note: the training covers all of the formats OverDrive offers, including mp3 audio books, video, and eBooks (as well as the traditional audiobooks). Participants should remember that at this time, the Listen Up! Vermont project only offers the WMA audio book files.

16 September 2008

Using Listen Up! in schools -- Lyndon Institute

Another post in the continuing series of how some of our most successful libraries promote Listen Up! Vermont to their users; this is a guest blog post by Dollinda Lund, Librarian at the Lyndon Institute and one of the schools with the highest circulation of titles.

I sent all the faculty information and instructions on how to access Listen Up Vermont, and they were encouraged to share this information with students. Some of them did and actually suggested their students make use of the audios for some of their required readings. That was rather hit or miss with students, though (depending on the teacher) so now as I am heading around to all English classes for GMBA booktalks, I also give them the students the information/instruction sheet for Listen Up Vermont and talk it up some.

The library has five mp3 players that we lend out (they are all out now!), and I have just ordered five more. Some students have their own and use those and do it all from home, but many students rely on using ours. Some students don't have internet access at home - or they are hesitant to try to download the books at home - so we help them do it here or, in some cases, do it for them. The mp3 players are signed out for two weeks.

Some of our English teachers are very excited about this program and are the ones encouraging their students to use it. Pride and Prejudice was a hot item last spring when one of the English teachers suggested students download it so they could listen to their assignements on the way home from track meets! Many of these teachers have bought into the Green Mountain Book Award program also, and they are pleased that their kids can access some of those titles.

I haven't done a formal training. Teachers are pretty protective of their time, and our in-services are already "overfull." Instead I sent out an intoduction and set of instructions to the faculty and then talked to those who seemed most interested. It was important to hit all the English teachers because all students have contact with them. I think I will try to do a voluntary after-school teacher training at some point in the near future for those who want to use the service but are afraid to try it - and we do still have teachers who are intimidated by technology.

I promote the service by talking to teachers, especially the English department, and talking to the students through their English classes. I also put a notice on our daily announcements last spring and let it run for a while, and I will do that again this fall.

I am so happy we got involved with this program. I have used it myself and have been very pleased with the choice of books I have accessed. I am excited about the program and hope it will grow.

15 September 2008

Open Training Month: Patron Support

I am sitting in on the Open Training Month session "Patron Support: Become an OverDrive Download Media Specialist" this morning, and thought I would share some of the tips I gathered from the session.

Staff success
Our trainer pointed out that all staff should have tried to use the downloadable audio book service, culminating in the successful download of a title; that you should know the basic steps, so that you may assist patrons; and that you should be a cheerleader, advocating the service to patrons. Practice does go a long way! Have you downloaded a title and transferred it to a device? You can also try the Quick Start guide or the Guided Tour, available at the top right of the Listen Up! page.

Info on iPods
The WMA files for audio books are half the size of the mp3 files for audio books. This will be important to keep in mind for our patrons, when the mp3 format (which is the iPod compatible format) becomes available -- they may be extremely difficult for some of our patrons on dial up to download. When we can choose, the titles will come from 12 publishers, and approximately 3,000 titles will be available to purchase from (as opposed to the over 20,000 available in the WMA format). Also, at this time, patrons still need to use the OverDrive Media Console to facilitate downloading, and that is only Windows-compatible. That means patrons with iPods will still need to have access to a PC to download a title -- they cannot use a Mac. OverDrive hopes that the Mac-compatible version will be available by the end of the year.

Trouble downloading
The most prevalent trouble patrons have is having incompatible, missing, or corrupted digital rights management (DRM) licenses. Many times, these can be resolved by going to Tools > Windows Media Player Security Upgrade, which updates your DRM licenses.
If a patron has trouble downloading a part of an audio book, the patron should:
  • delete the problem part from \My Documents\My Media
  • clear the cache of temporary files
  • try re-downloading the part from the OverDrive Media Console
  • contact support at vtaudiobooks@gmail.com
  • if it is whenever a patron tries to download, as opposed to one part of one file, they may want to reinstall the OverDrive Media Console
Training sessions for patrons
OverDrive partner libraries suggest scheduling a how-to workshop on using OverDrive/Listen Up! Vermont for patrons when you have another program scheduled, when you have a guaranteed audience.

They also suggest holding it always at the same time -- every Tuesday afternoon, for example. Even if someone doesn't come every week, we all know the power of regularly scheduled programs.

Or, how about having a table/booth at an area fair or town event showcasing the service? Many of us do this well at Town Meeting! Or, maybe a Digital Book Club -- a great way to use our Maximum Access titles.

I will also be attending the Community Outreach session later in the month, and will share the ideas I hear there.

Have you attended an Open Training Month session? Let us know what you learned in the comments.

08 September 2008

Listen Up! Vermont in Jericho/Underhill and Williston

This is a guest post with contributions from Holly Hall, Director of the Deborah Rawson Memorial Library, which serves Jericho and Underhill, and Marti Fiske, Director of the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library in Williston.

Holly: Like [Middlebury], we too have a logo on our front page that is a direct link to the site. We also have a "How to" link on the front page. Feel free to copy it! [The link is: http://www.drml.org/]

We have a column in our local paper and mention the site often. We also put it in our print newsletter and e-letter frequently. At the circ desk we have those business size cards that came to us as a template. We print them out on just regular copy paper so they are cheaper.

Staff is very good at mentioning it to people who are checking out audios. When we first started offering the service we did a step by step how to session using our LCD projector and my MP3 player.

Our community has a large commuter base and they love to try new things. I still get asked about Ipods on a weekly basis and I think we will see even more circ once we can offer service to Apple users!

The only things I would add to David's list is we give the brochure on how to begin (provided by Overdrive) to every new patron and always talk it up, especially when someone can't find the audio title they want. [Note: you can find the handout Marti mentions, along with many other promotional tools, in the Box.net widget in the following blog post: http://vtaudiobooks.blogspot.com/2008/03/promotional-materials-and-more.html]

Do you have suggestions to share? Why not post them in the comments below?

05 September 2008

Don't forget about Open Training Month

Don't forget: in September, OverDrive is hosting a series of free instructor-led trainings, much like those we have been doing in the past -- all you need is a phone line or Skype and a computer that can be online at the same time. This is a wonderful opportunity to train or re-train your staff, teachers, volunteers, and more. The classes are as follows:
  • Collection Checklist: 10 Steps to a Successful Download Collection
  • Digital Library 101: Browse, Check Out, and Download!
  • Patron Support: Become an OverDrive Download Library Specialist
  • Community Outreach: Introduce New Patrons to Download Media
  • Real-Time Reports: Size-up Success... and Stay on Track

Our participants will likely find the Digital Library 101, Patron Support, Community Outreach, and Real-Time Reports classes to be the most useful -- have your staff or teachers take Digital Library 101 to grasp the basics, and brush up on your skills with the other three. The press release also has the following mysterious line: "Plus, don't miss what's new for your download library!" Maybe an intro to mp3 files?

The best news? We can win a prize -- content credit! -- for participation. The winner in each category will be selected based on number of courses attended and percentage of staff participating. Let's try for that Consortia prize!

That means sign up! You can do so here:


08 September 08 note: Thanks to Marsha Middleton for letting me know that many of the courses, and their sessions, are waiting list only. I'll find out how the waiting list works; unfortunately, Digital Library 101 is the only course I didn't sign up for! If you're interested in one of the other sessions, let me know, as I am participating. Stephanie

04 September 2008

Listen Up! Vermont in Montpelier

This is a guest post from Hilari Farrington, Director of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, who is one of the top two circulating libraries in Listen Up! Vermont.

Here are some of the things we have done at Kellogg-Hubbard:
  • We added Listen Up! to our brochure entitled, "Tap the Hidden Web" an overview of online resources through our website.
  • We put it in our monthly newsletter every month.
  • The link is at the top of our website.
  • We send out reminders in our e-newsletter most months.
  • We post periodic reminders in the columns I write for several local newspapers.

When iPods can be used we ll do a big advertising blitz. That' s what everyone around here has been waiting for!

03 September 2008

Listen Up! Vermont in Middlebury

This is a guest post from David Clark, the Director of the Ilsley Public Library in Middlebury.

We are very happy that a core of librarians led by Stephanie Chase of Stowe organized the Green Mountain Library Consortium to provide downloadable audiobooks to participating libraries. Without their help, we would not have been able to offer this to our library members.

Stephanie tells me that we have lent more titles than any other library in the consortium (333 titles downloaded from March through August 2008). How did we do it? Who knows? We, for sure, don’t!

Here is what we have done:

  1. we put a large downloadable audiobook logo on the front page of our website
  2. 8 by 11 inch posters are around the library
  3. we ran a couple of newspaper articles
  4. we mention it frequently in our monthly newsletter and in our occasional e-newsletter
  5. we host help sessions (usually only 1 person shows up but the word is out...)
  6. audiobooks can be downloaded on a small table near the adult circulation desk. Computer speakers draw attention to this service.
  7. we loan 3 small MP3 players for 3 weeks at a time to encourage folks to try the service
  8. it doesn’t hurt that we have Chris Kirby to help folks get started. Chris serves as the tech answer guy for the consortium and he’s usually available by phone or email.
  9. Middlebury has a youngish population who seem willing to try something new

We can’t say that any one thing we’ve done has been determinative. But taken together, small steps enable our members to know that we have this service and make it easy for them to try it.

By the way, several months ago Chris put headphones at every computer and I’m amazed how often folks watch movies/YouTube/etc.. It’s also gotten a little more quiet!