7 of 23 Things - NetLibrary

I have been experimenting and learning about Web 2.0 technologies and how they can be used by libraries as part of our "23 Things - Social Media in the Library" assignment.  So far, I have learned about blogs, wikis, LibraryThing, Technorati, RSS & Newsreaders, and del.icio.us.  For my final "thing" I chose to explore NetLibrary.

NetLibrary provides access to econtent (electronic content), primarily through libraries themselves.  I visited my local library website, the Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library, and clicked on a link to ebooks (electronic books).  There were several databases available to chose from, with NetLibrary being an option.  I clicked on the link to NetLibrary and used the search function to search for ebooks on different topics.  My local library provides access to 37,884 ebooks and 29 eaudiobooks.  I was very disappointed in the size and content of the eaudiobook selection.  All but one eaudiobook was related to learning a foreign language.  I went to download an eaudiobook, and it turned out to be a bit of an endeavor.  I was not able to download the Media Center needed to download the eaudiobooks until I first updated my Windows Media Player to version 11.  I downloaded Windows Media Player 11, then was able to successfully download Media Center.  Before being able to download an eaudiobook, I had to create a NetLibrary account, which I did.  Then I downloaded one of the instructional eaudiobooks on learning German.  If was a relatively simple process.  All you have to do is follow the prompts provided.

After downloading the eaudiobook, I went back to explore the ebook selection.  I was once again disappointed in the selection available.  I searched for ebooks published in 2011, and found none.  I searched for ebooks published in 2010, and again, found none.  There were 55 ebooks available that were published in 2009.  I was discouraged at the age of the books in the selection and didn't search any further.

Although the selection itself left much to be desired, accessing the ebooks was very easily done.  You click on the icon for the book you want to read and presto, the book is there on your screen.  You can search for specific terms within the book itself, which I thought was a very useful feature, especially if you are doing research and not just reading for entertainment.  I found a copy of Ask Arthur Frommer: And Travel Better, Cheaper, Smarter.  The chapter titles are listed in a window on the left side of your screen, and a page of the ebook is displayed on the right side.  I explored turning pages and going to specific pages identified from the chapter contents.  I did not find an option to download an ebook, but you can save it in your "favorites" for easy access the next time you log on to your NetLibrary account.

Overall, NetLibrary is a great tool for libraries.  However, I think the libraries choice of what content they purchase will determine how frequently NetLibrary is used by patrons.  My local library also provides access to econtent through several other databases including OverDrive.  I briefly looked at the selection of ebooks available through OverDrive, and it appeared to provide access to more current fiction.  I anticipate more patrons will use my libraries OverDrive access to ebooks than access through NetLibrary. 


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