By Julio Ojeda-Zapata
Updated: 04/20/2011 12:00:20 AM CDT
The St. Paul Public Library has taken another big step into the digital age.
The library system on Tuesday unveiled an e-book lending system that allows patrons to load electronic titles on a wide variety of devices, from PCs and Macs to tablet computers and e-book readers.
The St. Paul Public Library was a laggard in this respect with counterparts in Dakota County, Hennepin County and elsewhere already offering e-book lending. Until now, St. Paul library patrons could read e-books only in library branches and not on their own devices.
A new service called OverDrive changes this. The electronic-content distribution technology, used by libraries across the country, gives patrons near-effortless access to reading material once they have logged in with their library-card numbers.
E-book checkouts via OverDrive mimic the borrowing of physical books. If a digital title is listed as available, it can be downloaded to a computer or mobile device for a specified time. If a title is in high demand, a patron asks to be notified via email when it becomes available.
The St. Paul Public Library lists nearly 300 titles in its OverDrive catalog, including such popular titles as Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
Patrons can have up to 10 e-books checked out via OverDrive at once. In addition, they have access to more than 15,000 public-domain classics that do not count against their quotas and don't have time limits.
E-book lending at the St.
Paul library joins a music-download service, launched last year, which gives patrons three free tracks per week from the vast Sony Music Entertainment label, no strings attached. This Freegal service, like OverDrive, asks library patrons to identify themselves via card numbers. The unencrypted MP3-formatted tracks then work on any device.
Similarly, OverDrive books are readable on most desktop, laptop or handheld computers. The books do incorporate a layer of copy protection, via Adobe technology, to prevent their use beyond a library lending period.
AT A GLANCE
What: Overdrive is an electronic-content distribution technology that allows a library to lend e-books.
How it works: Library customers log into OverDrive to browse a book catalog, download available titles or put themselves on waiting lists for in-demand titles.
On a computer: Downloaded books are readable on a Windows PC or a Macintosh with Adobe Digital Editions software (adobe.com/products/digitaleditions).
On an e-book reader: Once downloaded to a PC or Mac, OverDrive books can be transferred to an Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader or other e-book readers via the Adobe Digital Editions application.
On a smartphone or tablet: OverDrive provides apps for Apple and Android mobile devices that allow direct book downloads, without using a PC or Mac as an intermediary.
Info: Learn about OverDrive downloads at major Twin Cities library systems via sppl.lib.overdrive.com, dakota.lib.overdrive.com and hclib.lib.overdrive.com.