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Library's OverDrive Program Provides Books on the Go

Thursday, Oct. 04, 2012

USU student

Students can use Overdrive, a new program from the library to check out digital books for their E-readers and cellphones. Jessica Fife photo (from the Utah Statesman Online)

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Library's OverDrive Program Provides Books on the Go

By Staff Writer Lis Stewart in The Utah Statesman, Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Students can now download e-books and audiobooks onto any computer or electronic device for free for up to two weeks through the Merrill-Cazier Library’s new system called OverDrive, library collection development specialist John Fleming said. OverDrive holds a growing collection of over 500 fiction and nonfiction titles, he said.

“I try to keep in mind the audience and students,” Fleming said. “It’s been supported through students’ fees so I try to think what they might enjoy.”

The library purchased a license with OverDrive late last year due to numerous requests for audio books from regional campuses. OverDrive is a company that distributes the books onto electronic devices via downloadable software. The library then purchases the rights to distribute copies of ebooks and audiobooks for a limited time, much the same way as a traditional library book checkout. Just like a regular rental, only one person can have access to a title at a time, said Jennifer Duncan, head of library collections.

The number of e-book and audiobook checkouts on the OverDrive system is small but steadily increasing, electronic collections librarian Katie Wesolek said.

The library’s OverDrive had 78 checkouts in January and there were about 50 titles in the collection, Wesolek said. There are now over 500 books available for checkout, and the library saw 134 checkouts in August. As of Sept. 21 the library had 100 titles checked out on OverDrive.

The OverDrive system is similar to the McNaughton Collection at the library, which is full of popular print books available for rental, Fleming said. McNaughton books are popular and recent releases are leased to the library so patrons can check them out, he said. OverDrive is the same idea, only it makes popular books available for reading and listening on electronic devices such as a computer, smartphone or Kindle, he said.

Fleming, who chooses which books to buy for the library’s OverDrive collection, said suggestions from people other than library staff are minimal and he would like more input from students.

“It’s been frustrating because I think there may not be a lot of people who know about it,” Fleming said.

Wesolek said e-books and audiobooks are becoming more popular because of convenience and reading for pleasure is a good way to relax. Recently, she went on vacation to Peru and checked out four books on her iPad to read.

“I think everybody needs to unwind and everybody has different ways of doing that,” Wesolek said. “Some people exercise or watch a movie and other people prefer to read, and it’s nice to have this as another option than checking out a hard copy of a book.”

Fleming said he takes requests from library staff and students for what books to purchase. He also goes through bestseller and award winner lists to decide what books to bring into the collection. Novels like The Hunger Games, the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the Harry Potter series continue to be popular, he said.

The future of OverDrive depends on its popularity with students, Fleming said.

“We’ll see how this goes and check to see if it’s being used and if it’s worthwhile and if there’s any interest in it,” Fleming said.

The OverDrive license is quite expensive and the books themselves cost more than regular hard copies, he said.

There are different types of formats to rent a book in and not all books are available in each format, Fleming said. Of the formats, there is Kindle, PDF, Epub and MP3. At the very basic a student needs a computer to download first the OverDrive software and then the book. Epub is compatible with many devices such as iPhone and Android, he said.

After the rental period is over, the book expires on the device it was checked out on so there are no late fees, Fleming said.

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