Sunday, December 16, 2007

Learning 2.0: Assignment #22

In our second-to-last assignment (hooray!), we've been asked to look at Queens Library's Digital Media Center. In doing so, I must admit I'm generally very impressed with the depth of the audiobook, music and video collection available to patrons -- and the fact that they can be accessed from anywhere, so long as the patron has a library card, brief Internet access, and the correct computer.

Here is one of two major drawbacks: the correct computer. I suppose decisions have to be made to protect digital copyright, but Overdrive is only of use to folks with a Windows-based computer. Some of this is Apple vs. Microsoft (what can you do), but it doesn't seem right to me that a sizable amount of patrons are excluded from this service, nor that a vendor would be selected that allows such (for lack of a better term) discrimination.

Yes, I'm a Mac/iPod user and I am miffed!

The other concern I have is that Overdrive can only be accessed by computers outside of the libraries. Again, we're dealing with access issues and digital divide problems. In theory, if a patron doesn't have a computer at home but, perhaps, has a much less expensive MP3 player, what does it hurt to allow them to download titles to the player while at the library? Obviously there are other issues such as other folks waiting for computers, etc., but on the surface I don't understand this rule.

These issues aside, I think offering this service is wonderful and another concrete, tangible way to show that libraries are growing with patrons' needs.

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