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Borrowing eBooks with OverDrive.com


  ( signifies OverDrive availability)

Overview of the Electronic Library Model

Over 27,000 libraries and schools worldwide have access to a catalog of more than two million book, audio, and video titles in dozens of languages via the OverDrive.com site. Book retailers and publishers use this service to allow to library patrons to check out books with a modified electronic model using high tech Digital Rights Management (DRM) book lending functions. Ebooks serve as a cost-saving adjunct/substitute for paper books. Libraries save money on storage, repair and lending costs by adding this new model. Patrons have no fines to pay and have the convenience of never leaving their homes to access the collection of ebooks which can be read on a host of devices such as Windows and Mac computers, Android tablets and phones, iOS tablets and phones, Kindles, Nooks, and Kobo eReader tablets.

Each library can choose which titles it thinks its patrons would enjoy the most. In addition, each patron can suggest new titles for purchase that are in demand if the library has allocated budget money for this purpose [some don't, so ask]. Libraries in a metropolitan area with large book budgets stand to save the most and some have amassed large OverDrive collections of over 100,000 titles. The larger the holdings of a library, the wider selection of OverDrive titles they are likely to have acquired. Small town users might inquire whether their state has a statewide digital library consortium agreement with overdrive similar to that in found in states like Oregon, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and many others.

Most large public libraries do use the OverDrive service and give instructions on their site as to availability and lending policies. The Adobe Digital Editions software may need to be installed on your device before you will be able to download eBooks [and perhaps to move them to the book eReader]. Official Intro Video (2 min).

To use electronic borrowing the patron will log into the local library website using their library card [and pin] and then navigate to the ebook section where overdrive is presented. They can search by title or author. When checking out the patron can choose different book formats for different titles. For example, .pdf, .epub, kindle and .mp3 audiobooks may all be available for a popular title. The patron has settings choices about how long they will retain the item and if some items are currently checked out by other users, they can click the Place a Hold button and be notified by email when the item becomes available. When an item is borrowed/downloaded, the patron does not have to remember to return it. The DRM will automatically turn off access to the item when the Return time is reached. Since you have a limit of how many items you can have checked out at a time, you may elect to return some of them early so as to allow for more checkouts. There are no overdue fines, because you are not able to retain any item longer than the designated return time. The item checked out just stops working. Periodicals can be read online, but not downloaded. For the digitally savvy this new experience of exploration may work out on its own with some fiddling. For the digitally challenged a demonstration by a local librarian can move things along at a faster pace. To use the advanced search feature, you must be logged into a single library, it is not available at the OverDrive.com home page. Even if it were the ability to search by a narrow subject area is non-existent, you cannot type one in and even if you could the subject tags used on the site are grossly deficient. Without a title or author you are on very thin ice.

Patrons can elect to search one library at a time or all the libraries in a geographic area if they have cards at more than one library. Patrons in some areas may have cards in over a dozen consortium libraries and may want to check them all at one time. To search only one library, go directly to the local library website. To check more than one library at a time, go to the OverDrive.com home search portal.

Library Extension is a handy browser extension that lets you instantly see book and e-book availability from more than one local library simultaneously. The best way to learn the site is probably to just start an exploratory clicking journey, you will learn a lot.

Technical Tips
OverDrive .pdf and .epub eBooks are said to be compatible with all major eReading devices, including Android, Blackberry, ChromeOS, iPad, iPhone, Kindle (U.S. only), Kobo, Mac, NOOK, Sony Reader, and Windows. OverDrive-distributed audiobooks, music and video play in a proprietary media player called OverDrive Media Console, which is available from OverDrive for Windows and Mac platforms, as well as Android, Blackberry, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), and Windows Phone 7. Official Video Help by device.

This diverse selection of available eReader devices make using download features potentially challenging for the user and for library staff members. Getting past the 21 steps it takes to a patron up and running is a big hurdle described by Eric Hellman.

Since OverDrive does not have a toll-free phone support for patrons, they suggest going to the configuration page on their site to select the device you will be using with their site for written instructions. If that does not address your problem more help details are availble if needed. One issue is called synchronization, just when do you plug in your reader to your computer?

To see sample OverDrive titles available for Heaven, look here and here

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