Cathy Grace, Nederland. I went away for a week recently, and as with any journey I undertake (whether it’s heading down the hill to an appointment, into Denver for a couple of days, or crossing state lines for an actual vacation), a necessary part of packing was to decide what reading matter to take. I fixed on George and Lizzie, a new novel by Nancy Pearl, who’s known as “America’s Librarian.” As a witty commentator on National Public Radio, she’s made a career of talking about other people’s books, and I was eager to see what her own first novel would be like. I was lucky enough to have an advance copy in paperback, which fit in well with my determination to pack light.
Well, with all the activities of the week, I didn’t actually have much time to get to know George and Lizzie. All too soon, I was packing to return home, trying to squeeze even more stuff into less space, and facing that all-important decision (again): what would I read? I made the bold choice to leave George and Lizzie with my sister, who’s always looking for a good read. That simple act may not seem significant to you, but to an inveterate reader like me, leaving my book behind was akin to jumping into deep water trusting that an air supply was going to appear from somewhere.
Fortunately, I had my smart phone with me. As soon as I got to the airport, I accessed NCL’s home page, logged in and tapped the link to Overdrive, only to discover a zippy new app called Libby, which makes it extremely easy to search for and browse ebooks and audiobooks in Nederland’s Overdrive inventory as well as to access other libraries’ Overdrive inventories (more information at https://meet.libbyapp.com). I happily whiled away several hours playing with Libby and, alas, did not find George and Lizzie, but had an awesome time exploring. I started with Libby’s Popular Collections, roaming among fiction of many genres, nonfiction and juvenile fiction. Then I tapped the “Explore our Collections” link and was instantly transported to the full Overdrive catalog: over 18,000 titles covering 121 different subjects. Amazing! Even without checking anything out, I could – and did – sample many items ranging from bestsellers to cookbooks to beginning readers to a French language course to a book on the Dalai Lama – either by reading a bit of an ebook or listening to a five minute snippet of an audiobook. When reading an ebook, I discovered to my delight that I could easily adjust the size of the type, brightness of the screen, and even the typeface. With an audio book, I could even change the speed of the playback (quite amusing).
I checked out a couple of items, which was easy and instantaneous. Now that they’re downloaded, I have access to those books for seven days wherever I go with my phone, whether I’m in wireless range or not. I will never be bookless again! And, happy ending, George and Lizzie has now appeared on our New Fiction shelves at the library, so I can continue my acquaintance with the book in hardcover and compare notes with my sister as she reads my advance copy.
Cathy Grace is a Library Assistant at the Nederland Community Library.