JANET MARTIN: Farewell to NetLibrary
During the past three years, the State Library of North Carolina has funded a subscription to NetLibrary, the source of nearly 25,000 ebooks, and 2200 downloadable audiobooks, free to all members of the state's public libraries.
If you are unfamiliar with this resource, you have missed a treasure. There is, of course, some terrific fiction, but for folks who want to use their time in learning, NetLibrary is unparalleled. For instance, there is language instruction -- nearly everything from Albanian to Vietnamese. It also includes programs for learning English tailored for speakers of Arabic, French, Spanish, and others.
Want college level coursework? More than 50 lecture programs teach a variety of disciplines including astronomy, history, philosophy, religion, and more. Popular nonfiction includes biography, medicine, and more than 50 business-related recordings. The Bible is there.
With 30 new titles added per month, only a few popular bestsellers show up at any given time. But the books that are selected tend to be of high quality.
North Carolina writers, including John Hart, Margaret Maron and Sharyn McCrumb, are well represented. Readers of inspirational fiction, romance, and westerns may find selections in those genres thin on the shelves of local libraries, but well stocked in NetLibrary.
Due to limited use by the citizens of North Carolina, the audiobook subscription is scheduled to end by Jan 1. So, why have users been so reluctant to sign on?
Many libraries failed to promote this service, so lots of folks simply don't know about it. Another limitation is that NetLibrary digital files work only through Windows Media Player and are incompatible with iPods.
On the other hand, the files are half the size of iPod-friendly files and compatible players are very inexpensive, "on sale" prices starting as low as $20. A list of devices is available on the NetLibrary Web site.
Other potential users have been uncertain about getting started. While library computers cannot be used for personal downloading of NetLibrary files, library staff can help set up accounts, provide informational handouts, and assist users in procedures.
Downloadable digital audio is compact and convenient with good quality sound, so try it out while you still have access to free resources. If you are already a NetLibrary fan, be sure to let your library know.
It could also be helpful to contact the State Library of North Carolina at http://statelibrary.dcr.state.nc.us/ and ask them to reconsider the decision to drop NetLibrary audio service.
Contact Pinehurst freelance writer Janet Martin at email@example.com.
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