I’m just a simple librarian in a high tech digital world

I’ve gotten to the point where I wince every time a patron walks up to the desk and asks about free eBooks or audiobooks. Even before the State Library of Kansas‘s contract ended with OverDrive, explaining how to get the digital content onto a device could get complicated depending on the device in question. Now with the switching of platforms, the length of my reference transactions have doubled with explanations about the new services and how some content isn’t available yet, or even compatible with some devices–the most notorious being the Amazon‘s Kindle products. It’s kind of disheartening to see people’s eyes light up at the prospect of free eBooks and then have to explain that they’re not available yet, and that we’re not even sure when or if they will be compatible with Kindles.

In a matter of two hours this morning, I must have had four patrons asking about digital content. One brought in her Kindle Fire hoping to learn how to download audiobooks from the State Library’s new provider, OneClickdigital, directly to it. After trying to figure out her log in information and ultimately having to reset her password, we managed to log in to her OneClickdigital account, only to determine that it wasn’t going to be possible for her to download files directly. She’ll actually have to buy the USB cord not included with the original purchase, download the eBooks to her computer, figure out if they’re the incompatible WMA files or compatible MP3 files, and then transfer them to the Kindle. For some of our older patrons who are just now bridging the digital divide, that isn’t as easy as the State Library’s new site title, “Kansas EZ Library” implies.

But I guess that’s what I’m at the library for, right? I’m just glad that I have the knowledge and experience to be able to help patrons figure it out, and though sometimes I feel like it’s the blind leading the blind, they usually end up leaving with most of their questions answered. And I always let them know if they discover they have more, they’re always welcome to come back.

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