Discussing e-books on BBC Radio Ulster Saturday Magazine

You never know where a blog posting will end up — on the back of my praise for Libraries NI making available e-books for loan via the Overdrive mobile application, I was asked to participate in a discussion on BBC Radio Ulster’s Saturday Magazine programme, presented by John Toal.

The panel included Helen Osborn (Director of Service Delivery, Libraries NI), author John Bradbury and yours truly.

Helen argued that this service has the potential to increase the number of new users, as well as adding value to the many reasons why current users go to their library.

John prefers the tactility of a printed book, and to browse his books physically, while I argued that I used to be this way with my music, but now enjoy the convenience of having a large library available to me anytime, electronically.

I did confess that I had to get over the irrelevance of page numbering in e-books, but this took me two minutes and I don’t think about it anymore.

But for me the most important point wasn’t weather you read a printed book or e-book, but that this additional service by Libraries NI should encourage more reading, in itself.

Our 15-minute conversation went very quickly. We all could have easily talked about this topic for much longer!


Borrowing e-books from Belfast Central Library


Well, the ability to borrow e-books from any public library in Northern Ireland somehow missed me. I only discovered this via an article in the magazine Tap!, in a review of the iPhone app Overdrive.

It’s genius.

But you will need a real library card at a participating library, whether in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom or the USA — it’s a widely adopted borrowing system.

Overdrive works on Mac or Windows desktop, and on mobile devices iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7.

First, simply download the Overdrive app onto your device.

When you open the app, you’ll be asked to “Add a Library”. Clicking that link brings you to a search field where you enter location details (e.g. “Belfast Central Library”). Then, you’ll be asked to enter your real library card number.

And that’s pretty much it. Back in the Overdrive app you’ll see your list of libraries. Clicking one brings you to that library’s e-book checkout service (where you follow that library’s instructions).
For Libraries NI, you login with your library card number. You can then browse all available e-books and audiobooks, which are available to borrow for 21 days. You can check out up to 9 e-books at a time.

You add desired books (which are dependant upon availability at the library; you still may have to compete against other borrowers!) to your basket, then proceed to checkout where you then download to your device.

Pretty straightforward after linking up your library to your Overdrive app.

I’m impressed, as it restores a link with my local library. Hope that Libraries NI can gear up their promotion campaign, though, as I only discovered this by accident.

FYI here is what I’m e-reading now from Belfast Central Library: