Saturday, December 31, 2005

Douglas County Library Downloadable Audiobooks

Another example of the way content delivery is changing. If you have a Douglas County Library card (Arapahoe County Libraries may have something similar), you can sign up for a free NetLibrary Account. From Douglas County Libraries' FAQ:

Downloadable Audiobooks from NetLibrary and Recorded Books are digital versions of audiobooks that are available through the Internet. Audiobooks can be played on any desktop or laptop device supporting Windows Media Player (version 9 & above). You can also transfer your favorite titles to a select number of portable audio devices (PADs) that support bookmarking.

NetLibrary limits the download to 10 audiobooks on one account at a time. Audiobooks are checked out for three weeks and then will stop working. You cannot check an audiobook back in. When the three weeks is up, you will need to remove the file from your PAD by using the directions above, or you can renew it through NetLibrary and re-synchronize it to activate the new license that is attached to the file.

Audiobooks can be renewed at any point by logging into your account. A renewal provides you with an additional 21 days of access from the date of renewal.

There are over 850 audiobooks available now and NetLibrary and Recorded Books plan to add about 30 titles a month.

While this may be of the most interest to Language Arts teachers, I think it will become more widely useful as more titles in all areas become available. For example, one title I downloaded to test the service was Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Unfortunately, it was not narrated by the author :-), but it was narrated by Adrian Kronauer (of Good Morning Vietnam fame). While it was playing, I did a quick search of the web to pull up the text to read along as I listened.

I could see U.S. History teachers playing an excerpt of this for their classes while they read the text to get a better feeling for the document.

(Note: Unfortunately, this is not currently compatible with iPods - since it's WMA format only, but you can still play it on your computer and wma compatible MP3 players).

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