Friday Freebee: The iPad Meets the Library
We all know that tablets can be great educational devices, but until now, just about every eBook that is viewed on them has had to be purchased. No more, with OverDrive’s Media Console app, which can turn a computer, tablet or phone into a library card. Version 2.2.1 is a freebee from Apple’s App Store with software available for Windows, Mac, Android, Blackberry, iOS (Apple’s iPhone and iPad) as well as Windows Mobile phones; a Kindle version is on the way. It can not only work with Adobe’s EPub eBook format but can play .MP3 audio and .WMV videos as well.
After downloading the 9MB app and loading it on my iPad, I signed into my Adobe ID account; it’s easy and free to register. Then I picked my local library from the list of 13,000 participating institutions worldwide; it’s a drop in the eBook bucket, however because there are roughly 120,000 libraries in the U.S. alone. If your school or public library aren’t on the list, go complain to the head librarian because it’s actually easy to participate.
I then went through the available digital volumes at my local library and picked one for download. The pickings were slim, but there were a lot of kids novels available. You can typically keep the book for a week or two, but – just like physical library books – if someone has taken it out, you’re out of luck and have to put a hold on it and wait. When the book is due, it disappears from your system, so there are no late fees or penalties.
The viewer itself is adequate and allows you the choice of only two font sizes, a sepia background, a night mode and the ability to add bookmarks. There’s a table of contents that you can jump to at any time, but it would be great if you could add annotations, like notes for a lesson, and Web links. Still, it’s a great start to an excellent idea. I have seen the future of libraries and it is OverDrive. It can turn musty old libraries into vital digital repositories for students to use