Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Borrowing Library Books Online

For the past month or so we have been figuring out the intricacies of borrowing library books online. I have been checking out books from libraries since I learned to read. I remember the first check-out system was simply obtaining a library card and signing your name to a card in a slot pasted onto the inside cover of the book. This was the system used by the Phoenix Public Library while I was quite young.

Later the Phoenix Library went to a machine that used your library card like a stamp to imprint your card number on the check-out card and left a copy in the library. Soon the technology changed again to use a computer punch card for check out. As I got older and with the introduction of computers, the systems began to change more regularly. Presently, both the Mesa Public Library and the Maricopa County Library use microchips implanted in the books and you check them out with an electronic sensor that scans a bar code on the book. The microchip is then marked as checked out and you can remove the book from the library. If you don't check out the books, then an alarm sounds if you try to leave with the books.

Now, we are moving into digital books, whether you like them or not. Digital books have both advantages and disadvantages when compared to paper books. For us, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I checked out a paper book a couple of months ago and had to renew it four times before I finished it. Then I had to take the book back to the library.

Digital or ebooks check themselves back into the library automatically. I have mentioned before that I hesitated to take the time to learn how to check out the books electronically online because the offerings  were so meager. With the popularity growing, libraries have increased their offerings dramatically. The Phoenix Digital Library has over 100,000 books online to be checked out. Some of them can be completely downloaded for free and not returned.

Right now, we are lacking in standardization. Every type of ebook and every library and online book reader has its own peculiarities. But once you work your way through the morass, you have unlimited ebooks and audio books to read. With the addition of huge genealogy collections online, my involvement with digitized books continues to increase. At first, I was using my iPhone to read the books, but that was convenient but sometime the letters were too small. As a compromise, I moved to reading on an iPad. That works very well and we can download books directly to our online accounts, such as Kindle Books,, Adobe Digital Editions and others depending on the format of the ebooks.

Go to your library's website and check out what types of digital materials are available. You might be surprised.

1 comment:

  1. Like you, I am a life-long library lover. I am trying to understand how all these ebook things work. The first 3 ebooks I borrowed came into my Kindle. The next one would only work in Overdrive. I was spoiled by Kindle's ability to sync between devices so I could read on the Kindle itself or pick up where I left off on my iPad. Overdrive doesn't sync, very frustrating. So I guess it all depends on the book/publisher and the library you borrow from. One of my libraries allows 21 day loans, the other maxes out at 14. Lack of standardization, indeed!