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Harford County libraries upgrade eReader technology

Harford County libraries upgrade eReader technology

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Paper books are going out of style.  According to AARP’s sales figures for 2010, paper books sales went up 2.4% while eBook sales went up 164.8%. Public libraries in Maryland can’t help but keep up with the times.

Maryland libraries in every county are using Maryland’s Digital eLibrary Consortium, powered by OverDrive, to provide virtual libraries to all public library users.  OverDrive is an e-reader app similar to the Nook and Kindle apps, but provides virtual library books.  The free OverDrive app is compatible with most desktop and mobile devices such as iPhones, Kindles, and Androids, and is available wherever apps are sold.

The OverDrive app provides an opportunity for avid readers to satisfy their hunger for books without emptying their wallet.

Though the navigation and usability of OverDrive are similar to Kindle and Nook eBooks, but has a few limitations due to the fact that OverDrive books are free.

The first major limitation that exists with virtual libraries, but not with Kindle or Nook eBooks, is the limited variety of books.  Although the number of books available on OverDrive has greatly increased over the years, it still does not compare to physical libraries.  In addition, only public library card holders can access the eBook, and merely four books can be rented at a time whereas public libraries have no limits.

Other shortcomings that exist with virtual libraries but not with Kindle or Nook apps are that there is a specific number of each book available for rent and each book can be rented for only 14 days. These faults often proved to be a nuisance, as a library book may be unavailable or have several other people waiting for the book. If the due date comes before the reader is finished, the book disappears from the device it was downloaded on, whether it’s a Kindle or an iPod Touch.

The activation of the app is also  difficult and time consuming. The Maryland’s Digital eLibrary Consortium website has directions for the activation of OverDrive for every compatible device, but the directions were not efficient enough.

Despite the many shortcomings that OverDrive and the virtual public libraries have, the books and the app are free. For those who don’t want to get out of the house and may have a tight budget, the app’s flaws are definitely worth the saved money and time.

Elise Adamson is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com

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