In our continual effort to better serve you, a team of librarians has recently taken a fresh look at our many electronic resources and databases, and has recommended some changes. Public library services have shifted dramatically over the past few years, with not only greatly reduced budgets but also a growth in the information you can connect to online. Ultimately, we recognize that our electronic databases must be relevant to your needs and provide the excellent library service you deserve.
To that end we will no longer be subscribing to a small selection of our current databases. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! The vast majority of the content available in these databases is also available in similar form at freelibrary.org and through other free resources, like Pennsylvania’s PowerLibrary.
The databases we will no longer be subscribing to include:
Freegal (ending as of June 1)
EBSCOhost, which includes MasterFile Premier, Middle Search Plus, Primary Search, ERIC, Novelist Plus, and Novelist K-8 Plus (ending as of July 1)
Dun & Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Database (ending as of August)
These changes will allow us to focus more on the types of services you value most and continue to be a library that is responsive to your needs. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be posting a helpful series of blogs that details just where you can find all the information you need, so check back often to learn how you can maximize your Free Library experience.
To get you started, read our post onFreegal and the many digital music resources available to you through the Free Library and online!
This is a great time for music lovers. Not so long ago, we had relatively few choices when it came to how we heard our music. We could buy it, which is ideal if you’re sure you’re going to like it once you get it home; listen to the radio or watch MTV, OK as long as you’re content to hear what someone else decides you should hear; or go see it live, again wonderful, but depending on where you live and the kind of music you like, maybe not possible. And those examples only take into account our very recent history. Go back much further and people who wanted to hear music had to play it themselves (also not such a bad option, as any musician will tell you).
Now though, anyone with access to the Internet also has access to a nearly limitless amount of music, much of it free and entirely legal. I don’t mean that online music can or should take the place of buying CDs and records, seeing music live, or making music yourself, just that it’s awfully nice to be able to satisfy your musical curiosity so easily. So, while the Free Library will no longer be offering the Freegal database of downloadable music, there are still plenty of great ways to access your favorite tunes.
Let’s look at some of your options.
Library Streaming Services
While music on the open web is great and the amount of content is growing every day, you still can’t find everything. That’s where the library can help. Check out our streaming music service over at the Download Media page. Online Music from Alexander Street Press is comprised of six individual collections focusing on jazz, classical, traditional, and world music. You can stream all day, create playlists, and more. A library card is required to login and a world of great listening awaits.
Online Streaming Services
Subscription services like Spotify, Pandora, and Last.fm are also a great way to hear music online. These services are free and supported by advertising – just like radio – except that here you get to choose what you want to hear. Spotify lets you listen to the specific songs, artists, and albums you choose without limitations, while Pandora and Last.fm offer you the ability to create custom radio stations based on the music you love. At the basic (ad-supported) level each of these services are free. Even better, all indications are that the market for streaming music online is about to get even bigger with recent reports that Amazon, Apple, and Google are all hoping to get into the market.
Embrace the video wormhole!
As if listening to your favorite music weren’t addictive enough, there is also a nearly endless stream of music video on sites like YouTube and Vevo. Vevo is sponsored by three of the “Big Four” major record companies and serves up new music videos and hits from some pop’s biggest starts. YouTube, of course, is also a great source for today’s hottest videos, as well as your old favorites from the video era, but the real fun begins when you discover one of YouTube’s many hidden corners of music arcana. From lost dance floor gems, to Afro-rock greats, to forgotten Philadelphia A-sides, these fan created videos offer a music wormhole too fun not to allow yourself to fall into now and then.
Of course, all this is only the beginning. You can also find new music on aggregators like The Hype Machine; search out tomorrow’s hits on Bandcamp, or hear a little of everything on SoundCloud. Please share your favorite sources for online music with us in the comments below.
Congratulations on your new e-reader, tablet, or mobile device! We hope you enjoy borrowing digital items from the Free Library of Philadelphia. Here's a quick guide to get you on your way.
First of all, finding digital items to check out on the Free Library's website is simple. You can start at the pink 'Download Media' button on our homepage or by taking a look at the video below that introduces our various digital platforms and shows you how to get around our site.
The majority of our best-sellers and in-demand ebook titles come from Overdrive. For an introduction on how to use the Overdrive service take a look at the video below.
Now that you know how to checkout an ebook, there are basically three ways to download them. The option that's right for you depends upon the type of device you own. Find a guide for each below...
Yesterday, we were pleased to learn that Hachette, one of the “Big 6” publishers in the United States, will now sell their full catalog of ebook titles to public libraries beginning May 8th. Until now, Hachette had limited libraries to a small selection of backlist titles. This is good news for ebook lovers. Hachette will give our readers access to ebooks by David Baldacci, Sara Zarr, Sandra Brown, James Patterson, David Sedaris, and Kate Atkinson, among others.
In related news, Tony Marx, the CEO of the New York Public Library, published an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday about the state of library ebook lending. In it, he discussed a pilot project with Simon & Schuster whereby New York libraries will offer their ebooks for loan. While this does not directly impact us here in Philadelphia, it is important to acknowledge this step by another major publisher.
These developments mark the first time that some content by all of the Big 6 American book publishers will offer their digital titles to libraries. For those who’ve followed this story on our blog and elsewhere, this is surely welcome news. While we still have a way to go before we can enjoy the full access and sensible pricing terms that libraries and you deserve, it is worth remembering that publishers also face intense pressures in this new digital environment and we applaud their recent efforts.
Here’s a recap of where we stand with each of the Big 6 publishers:
Hachette – Full ebook catalog available to libraries.
Random House – Full ebook catalog available to libraries.
Harper Collins – Full ebook catalog available to libraries.
Penguin – Titles purchased before February, 2012 are still available through libraries that use the Overdrive ebook platform, but new titles and best sellers are available only to a limited number of libraries through a pilot program with the 3M and Axis 360 ebook platforms.
Simon & Schuster – Full catalog available to New York libraries through a pilot program.
Macmillan – Offers a limited selection of their ebook to all libraries.
We know you want to read fantastic library ebooks and listen to great audiobooks on your device and now, it couldn't easier. Wth the free Overdrive Media Console app, you can enjoy library ebooks in EPUB, PDF, and Open EBUP formats as well as MP3 audiobooks on your Android tablet or phone. Library ebooks and audiobooks are free, convenient, and best of all... no late fees. When your loan expires the file is removed from your device. Here's a great video to help you get started.