Library now offers digital audio books
Duluthian Judy Sheriff is a connoisseur of audio books. "The audio book goes on before the seatbelt," she said, because she listens while driving. She's even been known to buy an audio book for the return trip from the Twin Cities, if she gets ca...
Duluthian Judy Sheriff is a connoisseur of audio books.
"The audio book goes on before the seatbelt," she said, because she listens while driving. She's even been known to buy an audio book for the return trip from the Twin Cities, if she gets caught finishing one on the way down.
Sheriff, youth services coordinator at the Duluth Public Library, naturally was thrilled when the library recently offered its first48 Playaways, a type of audio book. Of the 48, 24 are adult non-fiction titles, 12 are adult fiction, and the rest are titles for children or teens.
A Playaway is a digital audio book packaged in its own player device, which is about half the size and weight of a pack of playing cards.
It comes with a built-in hole that can be strung with a lanyard, so people easily can take it along while walking or running.
Or it can be played through a car or home speaker system, using the same kind of radio transmitter adaptor popular for listening to iPods and other MP3 players.
The move is one of several the library is undertaking this year to provide more electronic book offerings, said Renee Zurn, the library's adult-services manager.
In July, librarians plan to offer Playaway audio books for learning foreign languages. Later this year, Zurn hopes to add more Playaways.
The Playaways are available only at the main library downtown, but some eventually will be sent to the library's other two branches.
And this fall, the Arrowhead Library System, which Duluth's libraries are a part of, will begin offering audio books people can download on their home computers.
The new Playaways are handier and more durable than tapes or compact discs, users say. Instead of having to take out and insert several compact discs to listen to a single audio book, it's just a matter of hitting play and stop, Zurn said.
While it's too soon to gauge how popular they are, many of the 48 audio books were checked out last week.
The first 48 books included a range of recent and older titles, including "1984" by George Orwell, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson and "One for the Money" by Janet Evanovich.
To see what's available, go to the library's online catalogue and type in "Playaway."
While Zurn said librarians plan to keep offering as many formats as possible, companies are increasingly phasing out cassette versions of audio books.
Duluthian Todd Olson, 27, who because of his blindness relies on audio books, welcomes the change.
"It will be faster, easier to use," he said while perusing the titles Friday.