TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: In Wellesley, Books go Online / Library Offers Audio Downloads

In Wellesley, Books go Online / Library Offers Audio Downloads

Monty Solomon (
Mon, 20 Feb 2006 08:18:40 -0500

by Missy Ryan, Globe Correspondent

If you live west of Boston, and you want to check out 'Death Dance,'
a new mystery by Linda Fairstein, chances are you're going to have to
wait. There's a backlog of requests for the 94 copies at libraries in
the region's library network.

But if you live in Wellesley, and have an Internet connection, you can
simply download an audio version and listen to it at home, on your
morning commute, or while you're sweating away at the gym.

Last month, the Wellesley Free Library became the first in the
Minuteman Library Network, a group of 41 libraries in the western
suburbs, to offer its patrons free access to recorded books online.

Twenty-four hours a day, they can browse a collection that includes
more than 1,100 titles -- and is growing every month.

In a world where multitasking has become almost as natural as
breathing, many people 'want to be doing something when they have
commuting time or gym time,' said Elise MacLennan, Wellesley's
assistant director for library services.

While libraries in the Minuteman network share many materials, only
patrons from Wellesley can access the program.

It is offered through a partnership between NetLibrary, which
provides digital content to libraries and publishers, and Recorded

More than 260 people have signed up since Wellesley launched the
program on Jan. 3, MacLennan said.

The audio book collection that Wellesley library patrons can access
contains classics and bestsellers like David McCullough's
Revolutionary War chronicle, '1776,' and lighter fare like 'The No. 1
Ladies' Detective Agency' by Alexander McCall Smith.

To get the recordings, patrons must register at the library, where
they create an account with NetLibrary. At home, they can download as
many as six digital recordings at a time, and have 21 days to listen
or renew before the audio book's license expires.

People can use speakers or headphones to listen directly from their
laptop or desktop computers -- which must have the capacity to
support Windows Media Player 9.0 or above -- or they can transfer the
recordings onto compatible MP3 players, handheld organizers, and even
some mobile phones.

Because the files aren't compatible with Apple products, Wellesley
library patrons cannot listen to the audio books on the wildly popular
iPod. "That's probably the major drawback," McClellan said.

They can, however, use portable music players by other manufacturers,
like Creative.

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