Tag Archives: digital content

What, it’s not on the Internet?

demographicsGenerally when we talk about the Digital Divide, we’re talking about the disparities in use and access to the Internet and other digital resources – primarily due to income, education, and/or geography. In April last year the Pew Research Center / Pew Internet Project released a comprehensive report on the Digital Divide – Digital differences – a survey based analysis of who’s using the Internet and how/where they’re accessing it.  While absolute trends have changed as the technologies have changed, The US is still faced with 20% of its adult population not using the Internet – though half of that is a choice, not a circumstance.

As librarians, we at the Carnegie and libraries around the country help overcome the digital divide on regular basis; running the spectrum of users from those who become self-sufficient to varying degrees, and those for whom the mouse and PC are the tools of the devil, wholly unclean and not to be touched.  I also regularly work with others for whom there is another variety of the digital divide; one that determines their future course of work and changes their otherwise comfortable relationship with the library, its librarians, and greatly challenges their 21st Century assumptions.  This divide occupies a narrow spectrum of information – that which isn’t available online – no way, no how.

telegraphIsn’t everything available online? No, it isn’t.  Generally speaking, most of what the average library user asks for is available online; maybe in a full-text database, perhaps in a published government document, possibly in a curated digitized collection, and of course in e-books.  There are also some standard tools like the USPTO’s patent search engine with accompanying displays, and one of my favorites – Google Earth. Of course we’re also positioned, and more importantly trained, to help our users with the non-digital resources they need.  Sometimes we need to do things as if it’s 1970, and that’s not necessarily a given for many students and other library users. We’ve all become comfortable with both the actual access and the assumption of access that “our” information is a click away.

The danger with that assumption is two-fold. The first will be the conclusion after an unsuccessful search that the information you’re seeking doesn’t exist – if it’s not digital, ipso-facto, it hasn’t been created.  The second concern, and maybe the more prevalent one, is that knowing it doesn’t exist electronically simply drives the user to an electronic source that they make meet their need, even if it’s a tertiary (or worse) source.  Just because most of what you might seek is available online, that doesn’t mean it all is, or that the best of it is, and that is why you can always Ask a Librarianask_a_librarian150

– Richard


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Presents You Can Open Early: Zinio and Freegal

We are as pleased as punch to present two new digital library services that will rock your world!

That’s not hyperbole. Although librarians remain staunch defenders of the printed word (think Nicholson Baker, but cuter), we also love digital tools that extend the library’s reach beyond its walls, and we actively seek out new products and services that will help you experience the library better (just another one of those invisible tasks we’re up to all day).  This month the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh debuted two new eCLP services that expand our magazine and music offerings in fun ways; here’s a peek at what they are and how they work.


What it is: A collection of 300 magazine titles that you can read on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone (huray for apps!). The collection covers a broad range of topics including cooking, news/current events, fitness, gaming, crafts, and tattoos (yes, really).

Who can use it: Library cardholders in good standing from any Allegheny County library.

How you sign up: First-time Zinio users should visit the eNewsstand page to start the sign-up process and choose which titles they’d like to read.

When you’ll receive your magazines: After you’ve created your library and Zinio accounts, and subscribed to your titles, you’ll receive a new e-mail from Zinio every time there’s a new issue of your magazines (so, monthly for monthlies, weekly for weeklies, etc.).

Where to get help: The Zinio User Guide and video tutorial can both walk you through sign-up and service use, or you can ask a helpful library worker.

Why you won’t see all your favorite publications: Much as with e-books, some magazine publishers are reluctant to sell digital content to libraries. The library’s subscription includes as much available content as we could provide.

Things to Watch Out For: The two-step sign-up process can be confusing if you’re not used to registering for online services, so please take advantage of the help features. Also, Zinio has magazine subscriptions for sale that are not part of the library’s collection, so if you ever see prices or requests for payment information, that means the title is not part of the CLP subscription.

The bottom line: If you don’t mind a little set-up work on the front end, Zinio is a great way to sample new magazines risk-free. I personally love the high quality of the scanned images, and the ability to tweak certain screen features for readability. Most publications even let you print pages, if you’re so inclined. Recommended for people who love to read magazines, but don’t always have time to come hang out in the library.

Fluffy loves reading Audubon Magazine on Zinio. Spotted at VentureBeat

Fluffy loves reading Audubon Magazine on Zinio. Spotted at VentureBeat


What it is: A free and legal (see what they did there?) way to get your hands on over 3 million songs, including the entire Sony Music catalog.

Who can use it: Anybody with a card in good standing from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

How you sign up: Visit the eCLP Music page and log in with your library card number and PIN. That’s it!

Where to find music: Freegal’s landing page offers a variety of browsing options, including “Featured Albums,” “Recent Downloads,” “Genres” (from a capella to zydeco!), “A-Z Artist Browsing”, and “The National Top 100.” Looking for something specific? You can do a simple search from the main page, or select Advanced Search for more detailed options.

When you’ll hit your download limit: Freegal allows library users to download a total of 3 songs per week. In an age of instant gratification, that might seem maddening, but remember: your music doesn’t cost you a penny, and there’s no pesky DRM to deal with either (some things are worth waiting for).

Where to get help: There’s an extensive FAQ that covers everything from transferring music to iTunes or Windows Media Player, downloading to your desktop, and using the Freegal app, should you so desire. As ever, your friendly neighborhood library workers will be happy to help.

Why you can’t find your favorite artist: Only certain record labels have agreed to work with Freegal. You can keep current with their latest offerings by checking out the “News” section while you’re logged in.

Things to watch out for: If a song has been covered by a tribute band, you might find that version in Freegal along with the original – double-check to make sure a song is really what you want before you use up a download. Also, advanced searches are far more precise than simple ones, so if you’re really jonesing for a specific tune, hit the advanced search first.

The bottom line: Search quirks and delayed gratification issues aside, Freegal is a terrific way to beef up your music library. The range of available genres is eclectic enough to suit every mood, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how many popular artists and songs I’m finding, too.

Ehrmegerd, The Mountain Goats are on Freegal! Still shot of an animated .gif

Ehrmegerd, The Mountain Goats are on Freegal! Still shot of an animated .gif

We hope you like your library gifts, and that you’ll not only open them early, but use them often! If you’ve tried the services, and have questions or other feedback, please leave a comment.

–Leigh Anne


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