The Digital Bookmobile – the Evolution of Libraries’ Collections

Disclaimer: I’m writing this myself. The disclaimer at the bottom of the page applies to this post.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me mention DigiBookmobile. It’s on a mission to educate library patrons about their libraries’ digital collections. Today, it’s leaving Ohio to head up to Flint, MI for an event at the Genesee District Library Headquarters on Saturday. So if any of you in Michigan are near Flint and have some time on Saturday, stop by and check it out.

So why do you talk about @DigiBookmobile lately?

I believe in its mission. When I was a youngster, I loved reading and could easily be fou
nd checking out the latest Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume book out. Even now, I love curling up in the comfy recliner in my front room and reading a good James Patterson book or even a technical book. I’m a literary junkie, with a penchant for mystery books and cheesy romance novels.

But not only do I believe in its mission, I also actively support it. On September 27th, I worked my first day in one of my new roles. Many of you know me as a developer, passionate about the .NET technologies and database technologies that I work with. But my passion and excitement for technology has been tapped for another use – as part of the Digital Bookmobile staff. WestLife News did a great article on what we’re all about.

So tell me… what is it about the Digital Bookmobile that excites you so much?

I’ve watched the library evolve over time, and it excites me to see them using technology to help take their collections forward. Now, when I travel, I take my phone on trips and read eBooks on the plane. Like this February, when I joined my husband on a business trip to Florida, I read “How Would You Move Mount Fuji” and a couple other eBooks on the plane. If this were a few years ago, I’d have had a stack of books with m
e, but now, I have them on my phone – no more huge stack to try to cram into my laptop case. When I went on a road trip with a few friends this past summer, I read a few more eBooks, since I wasn’t driving.

While I write code, I also listen to audio books. I’ve heard the various audio books about the future president and vice president candidates from both parties. I’ve found James Patterson’s books provide a nice pace to work with. On my drive between work and home, I can listen to audio books to make the commute a bit more interesting. The Darwin Awards books make for great driving books since they are a collection of short stories, which are a bit easier to interrupt than larger stories, in my opinion. Then there’s my absolute favorite audio book – the Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss stories, read by famous actors and actresses (including Kelsey Grammer, John Lithgow, and Ted Danson). I’ll admit that I’ve checked it out a few times, even before the Digital Bookmobile entered the picture. Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel, Theo LeSieg) was one of my favorite authors growing up. Sadly, this was also how I learned about the tale of the lorax, a story my husband had cited but that I had somehow missed as a kid. If you have kids or happen to be a Seuss fan like me, I highly recommend the Cat in the Hat. (And yes, we do have it on board the Digital Bookmobile, so I do use it as a demo quite often.)

So there’re eBooks and audio books — books you can read and books you can listen to, respectively. But there are other things that we promote as well — music and video. Most of the music is classical, opera, and instrumental. However, the music collections can improve, as we are featuring a Barenaked Ladies album aboard the Digital Bookmobile. So popular music isn’t out of reach – it’s coming.

There are videos of all genres as well. If you’re on the Digital Bookmobile, I highly recommend watching an IMAX video on full screen to get a good view of the quality that we can provide. I still remember the first video I checked out from my library’s digital collection – I had only seen the movie in bits and pieces when I was younger, but once I saw it, I checked out Short Circuit. I’ve now added it to my list of cute geeky movies.

But wait… there’s more!

What people focus on most on board are the formats we offer and the devices that support them. But there’s more to it that I like to feature. There’s a service that libraries can offer to the public that we call Community Reserve. In promoting community building and community awareness, libraries can showcase local works with other libraries. Boston Public Library, for example, shows off some of their local bands and a literary zine. The Cleveland-based CLEVNet Consortium has a couple documents with some of Cleveland’s history. Those of you who’ve talked with me know just how strongly I feel towards building and promoting communities, so it’s only natural for me to try to promote this feature.

What if I want to start checking out things from my library’s digital collection today? What do I need?

You need a valid library card and a computer with Internet access. Check out your local library’s website to see if they have a digital collection and what they have to offer. With the Digital Bookmobile’s collections, Macintosh users currently have access to the PDF eBooks, and aboard the Digital Bookmobile, they can see a demo of the MP3 audio books that will be available in an upcoming release. Windows users should be able to access all formats, although media device support will depend on the device itself. For example, iPods only support the MP3 audio books and not the WMA audio books, WMA music, or WMV video. As for Linux users, nothing has been formally tested, but if anything, the PDF eBooks might be possible with Adobe Reader.

So we see you’re passionate about this. Your excitement intrigues us. How can we learn more?

For starters, check out the Digital Bookmobile website. Then, check out their calendar of events and see it in person. I was on camera duty when I had to work, so I took some pictures while I was out there. But to fully experience it, check it out if it’s coming to a town near you.

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