Grand County libraries: Now you can download movies, audio books and music for free
March 21, 2008
It’s all the rave these days.
Entertainment conglomerates, large computer corporations like Apple computers and even Netflix are doing it.
They’re offering downloads via the Internet to home computers of films and other forms of entertainment. For a fee.
While computer gurus and industry analysts are hailing this move as something like a quantum shift in the ever-expanding world of e-commerce and Internet interactivity, the truth is that similar services are already offered for free through your library and the Grand County Library District.
That’s right. Local library cardholders can get free downloads of audio books, music and film.
Here’s just a sample of some of the hundreds of audio book titles that are available: “Third Degree,” by James Patterson; “A Is for Alibi,” by Sue Grafton; “Abduction,” by Robin Cook; “The Bad Place,” by Dean Koontz. In non-fiction, the list goes on and on. Here are a few samples: “The 1-Minute Stress Manager” by Emmett Miller; “A Briefer History of Time,” by Stephen Hawking; and “Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up,” by Dave Barry.
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For free, downloadable music, the categories range from ballet, to chamber music to classical to World Music.
There are also numerous language-learning audiobooks, from “In-flight Arabic” to “All Audio Italian.” These books can be downloaded and for listening on a computer, or they can be transferred to an MP3 player (and in some cases can be burned to a CD).
Downloadable film and other videos have just been added to the collection in 2008. For film and video fans, there’s animation, children’s videos, classic films, comedy, drama, foreign films and documentaries. Here’s a sampling of some of the titles available: “Enron” in documentaries; “The Lost City” in feature films; “Bom Bom El Perro” in foreign films; “The Screaming Skull” in horror films; “Curious George Rides A Bike” in children’s videos; “How To Make Friends” in the comedy category.
You can even download travel videos, health and fitness videos, cooking videos and more.
For a person with the time and inclination, the sky is the limit for these free downloads of music, film and audio books.
Through your library’s alliance with the Marmot Library Network, a consortium of library service providers in Western Colorado, a wide variety of entertainment and information can be downloaded at no cost to your home PC (and soon to your Apple Macintosh products).
This service is called OverDrive. With it, that wide range of materials can be downloaded from the OverDrive website. All must come from the OverDrive Media console format. The video downloads are supported as a high-speed Internet-only product.
To get to these digital materials in the Marmot Library Network, users will need a valid library card, access to the Internet and free software for the computer to which the material will be downloaded.
The first step in gaining access involves downloading and installing free software that allows your PC to use these downloads. Basically, users will download what is called the “OverDrive Media Console” in a version that matches the operating system being used.
This is done easily through simple step-by-step process outlined and explained on the Grand County Library District’s Web site (gcld.org). Go to the “Downloadable Audio” area under which it reads “Overdrive and Net Library.” Click there and you’ll go right to the explanation page.
Activate the software and you’re ready to enjoy.
Once on the Marmot system’s OverDrive site, users can browse and search the site for downloadable materials. Once a title of interest has been found, it can be added to the “Book Bag” (like a Shopping Cart on typical e-commerce sites such as Amazon) and then the title can be checked out. If the title a user has found isn’t available, a hold can be placed to reserve it when it is available.
When a title has been checked out, a download page appears which allows the download process to start. Once the download process is complete, the user can close the Internet connection and enjoy the materials off-line.
An added bonus of this system centers on the fact that users will never accrue late fees with titles that have been downloaded. At the end of the loan period, titles expire and are automatically ‘returned’ to the library.
The OverDrive download service doesn’t currently work on Apple Macintosh computers. However, by early summer, the service will work on Apple Macintosh machines and related equipment such as iPods and iPhones. The OverDrive Video title uses DRM protection technology from Microsoft, which doesn’t currently work on Apple products.
But just this week Apple and Microsoft reached an agreement that will enable support for Microsoft-based DRM-protected materials on the iPod, iPhone and Macintosh computer by early summer.
Of course, having free access to all these downloadable materials for free may seem too good to be true. After all, piracy of films and music is a growing problem in this world we live in where digital formats can be copied and reproduced with ease.
But that’s just what is so reassuring about The Marmot Library System’s alliance with the OverDrive download system.
It’s completely legal. And it’s free.