Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Update on mp3 audio books, iPods and libraries

WOW, I am in 2 people's feeders - doesn't take much to excite me nowadays :)

Since my last posting on the subject, I have been very busy investigating other options for buying mp3 files to lend out on iPods. I found this interesting post on Gordian Knot. It seems Bartlesville Library has been doing what I want to do for a while. Ironically, they found that iTunes was the best way. They were loading audio books onto patrons’ devices but then also purchased their own iPods for loan, in the same way that I would like to. With iPods (not sure on other mp3 players), you can’t synchronise the device to more than one computer. This, to me, is a bonus with relation to the copyright issue. If a patron tries to use the library’s iPod with iTunes on their home computer (eg to copy the audio book for home), the computer will erase all files from the iPod, as it has already been synchronised with the library’s pc.

With my investigating hat still on, I contacted one of the Library’s audio book publishers who are hoping to go down the path of mp3 files for purchase (as opposed to mp3 files on CD). The person I spoke to was under the impression that the licence meant one copy could be loaned out at a time, so if I chose to make a copy of an audio book and lend it out on an iPod, that would be ok as long as I removed the cd copy from the shelves. This seems too good to be true! I would be happy to buy audio books as mp3 files on CD and then transfer them to an iPod and not lend out the actual CDs, but I think this warrants some more investigation.

THEN Boney-girl sent me this doozy. This is the Catholic Ed Office in NSW and they are lending out audio books on iPods! They use, which the iTunes person has also referred me to, so I went there. They seemed ok, so I sent them an email outlining what I wanted to do and got this back “In regards to the sharing of audio books, you will only be able to activate 2 iPods on your Audible account. There may also be some geographical restrictions on certain titles on our website due to your location.” I replied back asking what activating only 2 iPods means (useless if it means I can only download to 2 devices – what is the point??) and also asking what the geographical restrictions are. There was no reply regarding geographical isolation, but that copyright meant an account couldn't have more than 2 iPods to download to. I managed to track down another 2 email addresses to contact, so currently have 3 emails floating around somewhere in cyberspace.

I do find it strange that a public library can't lend out an audio book when they can lend out print copies.

Oh, and there are lots of libraries in the US that are loaning iPods with books loaded on them, such as South Huntington Public Library in New York.

So does anyone have any ideas here???

Saturday, 7 April 2007

RSS addiction

I wonder if anyone else is addicted to RSS feeds the way I am at the moment?? As soon as I read a blog, I have to add it to my aggregator. Those of you who read my blog (and I hope that someone does!) will know of the problems I had earlier on when trying out Google Reader and Bloglines for a blooging/RSS workshop I am running during National Youth Week. I really liked Bloglines, but ended up using Google Reader mainly because it is the same account as the one for blogger and gmail - easier when training patrons, I think anyway.

At the moment I have nearly 90 subscriptions, with 7 folders and some loose subs that I am unsure of (unsure of where to slot them for now). Of course this means that, at the moment, I have 100+ feeds to read......

I wonder if I am in someone else's aggregator????

Friday, 6 April 2007

MP3 audio books in libraries

I have been thinking for ages about the possibility of buying Young Adult audio books as mp3 files and lending them out on iPods. I know that there are ways to have these audio books available for downloading from a library's catalogue, but this can take time and is very costly. So, me being me and not wanting to wait, I thought a quicker way to start this would be to buy the audio books as mp3 files, buy some iPods, then lend out the iPod loaded with the book, pretty much in the same way that public libraries lend out books. I had no plans to lend out a book more than once at a time (after all, with a printed book, only one person can borrow it at once, right?) and thought it would be pretty straightforward for staff and patrons to understand. There would be no need for staff to transfer files, as the iPod would stay preloaded with the same book.

Sounds simple?

well it isn't. I can't get a straight answer from iTunes on whether we can do this. One person told me that he saw no reason why we couldn't and although we were restricted to having the audio book on no more than 5 computers, we could have it on as many devices as we liked. Further enquiries have led to puzzled questions for clarification (obviously lending out an audio book is a foreign concept??), to replies saying that lending out the book for commercial purposes is against the terms of sale. Trying to clarify whether a library lending out an mp3 file on an iPod is commercial still had me going around in circles.

So much for good ideas. sigh.