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Author Archive for Brent Palmer

Traffic Cam

by Brent Palmer on October 1st, 2015

camWe have had several posts about cameras lately (see scene from above and caterpillar cam) and I thought I’d chip in with something I found out recently.  Recently a patron was asking me about the traffic cams at busy intersections in the city (OK it was my Dad).   I know I’ve heard various things about these cams so I asked my inside source at the city.  He told me that the cameras are just for traffic flow and not for citations.  They can detect when a car is sitting at a light and can even detect how many cars are waiting in order to time the signal properly.  These cameras are replacing the old sensors that are buried in the street.  The cameras have the logic built into them instead of being controlled by a central computer.  I asked if they could be used  in case there was a dispute about a traffic accident.  He said nothing is recorded and the cameras aren’t designed to give good coverage of the whole intersection anyway.  There are also a few other cameras that are strategically positioned around the city to provide information about road conditions.  These are also not recorded.  So my Dad was right.  I hate it when that happens.

Overdrive Tips: ePub vs Kindle Formats

by Brent Palmer on September 25th, 2015

Some of our eBook users have asked for more information about eBook formats and which one is best.

Image showing the download button with format options from overdrive

After you have selected an eBook to check out you are presented with a choice about which format to download. The “format” just describes how the content of an eBook is assembled so it can be displayed in eReader software.  Functionally, they are all about the same although there may be some small feature differences.  Generally speaking, you can usually use any format. In order to read Kindle format on a non-Kindle device you need the Kindle app. To read ePub formats on a Kindle, you need the Overdrive app (however, Kindle eReaders like the Paperwhite must use the Kindle format).  Here are a few guidelines:

Kindle Format

Pro: If you own a Kindle, the books show up in your carousel and generally behave like other eBooks you have bought from Amazon.
Con: checking out and returning books can be a little more cumbersome as this has to be done online via your Amazon account.

ePub Format

Pro: Assuming you are using the Overdrive Media Console (app), the whole process happens within the app. Browsing, checkout, download, read and return.
Con: If you are a kindle user, it may be more cumbersome to remember that your library eBooks are in the Overdrive app.

In general, if you aren’t sure which to choose, I would recommend using the ePub format.

More Info from Overdrive Help:

The difference between eBook Formats

If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

Overdrive Tips: Read In Your Browser

by Brent Palmer on August 25th, 2015

After checking out an eBook in overdrive you often see two buttons: Download or Read (in your Browser). I wanted to give you a little more information on the Read Image showing the download and read buttonsoption. I’m not sure if all the titles in our collection offer this option, but most do. Essentially, this button allows you to simply start reading the eBook without having to download the book and find it in your bookshelf.   OverDrive Read has many of the same features as popular reading apps and eBook readers, like the ability to add bookmarks, search for terms, add notes and highlights, look up words, and change the font. It also offers some extra features, like fixed layout support for graphic-heavy eBooks and professional narration for some titles.

Some downsides are that this works best if you only read eBooks where you have a reliable WiFi connection.  Also there may be some compatibility issues with older browsers. However in some situations, this might be the best option. For example, if you are reading an eBook on desktop or laptop computer (as opposed to a handheld device). Or if you find the process of downloading books, navigating between the two bookshelves and returning books confusing, this might be best.

More info from Overdrive Help

In the next tip, I’ll explain about formats available from the Download button. If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

Summer Relief at the Library

by Brent Palmer on July 28th, 2015

I was recently at a cookout and met a guy who grew up in Iowa City.  He has since moved on and lived in many places around the country but he was home visiting his parents.  He never had central A/C as a kid and had fond memories of spending the long hot days of summer at ICPL.  He talked about watching movies at the A/V stations in the children’s room including the first time he saw TRON.   He also remembered the exact location in the stacks where he could find all TinTin books .  Even though he no longer lives in Iowa City, he still carries his ICPL library card that he received in 1982 and whipped it out to show me.  libcard2Are the dog days of summer getting you down?  Come on down, there is always plenty to do here at the library.

Express Scanner

by Brent Palmer on June 22nd, 2015

New Express Scanner

We have a new express scanning service at ICPL. You don’t have to have a library card, get a guest pass, log in to a computer or learn how to use software. Simply step up and get started. You can scan a document and send it to yourself (or someone else) via email, save it to a flash drive or upload it to dropbox. It is quick and painless. The flatbed scanner handles up to 11×17 sized pages and makes scanning pages from books easy. There is a also a fast document scanner if you need to scan a stack of papers for some reason. The express scanner is on the second floor. We hope you get a chance to try it out.

Overdrive Tips: Holds

by Brent Palmer on May 28th, 2015

I’ve gotten several calls recently about users who were confused when they where notified of available holds but could not find them on their bookshelf.

When you place holds for eBooks and eAudioBooks, you have the option of being notified via email and to have Overdrive check the book out automatically when it becomes available.  We learned in a previous Overdrive Tips post that there are actually two bookshelves.  The ebook will be checked out to  your library bookshelf waiting to be downloaded.  See this article on how to find these items that have been checked out.

If you did not select the “automatically borrow this item when it becomes available” then the items will be found on your holds list.  You have 3 days to retrieve the hold before it moves on to the next patron.  Here is how to find that list.  You can then manually check out the held title.

If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.  Once again, good luck and enjoy your eBooks!

Overdrive Tips: How to return a title

by Brent Palmer on May 1st, 2015

A question we get quite often about Overdrive is “How do I return a title”.   Just as a reminder, you don’t have to return an item checked out from Overdrive.  After the loan period is over the item you borrowed will be returned automatically and you never receive late fees for them.  But there are a couple of reasons why you might want to.  First if  you are at your five-item limit, then you will have to return something in order to check out new items.  The other reason is just to be a good citizen.  If you are done with the book, returning it allows others to check it out sooner.

Now, how you return an item depends a little bit on what format  you chose and how you checked it out.   In most cases, you have to

  1. find the item in your device bookshelf.  (see the previous tip on two bookshelves)
  2. Tap and Hold the item until another menu appears with the options to return or delete the item.
  3. Select return.  (If you select delete, it will only remove it from your device without actually returning it to the library).

There are exceptions to this method (e.g. using the Overdrive Windows desktop version or Kindle eBooks).  For more information about all the different ways to return an item see Overdrive Help.

There can be situations where there is no way to return the item or where you just can’t figure it out.  If that happens, please call the library and ask for help in manually returning an Overdrive item.  We can always do it for you if necessary.  If you want more help we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.

Overdrive Tips: Checking Items Out From the Catalog

by Brent Palmer on March 31st, 2015

You can check items out and place holds on eBooks and audio books directly from out catalog.

Many of you enjoy the convenience of our “paging” service for traditional items like books, videos and other resources.  You can request the item from the catalog and then stop by the library when it’s more convenient to pick it up.  We have that functionality for eBooks and eAudioBooks too.  While searching through our catalog, you may happen upon an eBook that you would like to read.  Or perhaps the book you are looking for is only available in an electronic format.  You can either reserve or check the item out without having to go through the steps to open up the Overdrive app on your mobile device, log in to your account and find it again.  It will just show up on your online bookshelf the next time you use Overdrive.

Although this is an added convenience, it can also lead to confusion.  There isn’t at this time a way to automatically download the item right from the catalog.  For users who have not set themselves up on our Overdrive service, this can be confusing: “I checked it out, so where is it?”  This is just due to current limitations in the technology for eBook platforms.  We hope that in the future you will be able to push the item right to your device.

Overdrive Tips: Two Accounts

by Brent Palmer on February 27th, 2015

In case you are new to our eBook and eAudio service called Overdrive, you may want to get help from us to get things set up for the first time.  One of the confusing aspects of setting it up is the fact that there are two accounts that you need to use.  One is your ICPL Account.  This account corresponds to your library card number and allows you to check out books from our eBook and eAudioBook collection in Overdrive.  The second account is an “Overdrive Account” and serves as a way for Overdrive to keep track of who has what items digitally checked out and when the loan period is over.  Previously patrons used an Adobe ID for this purpose.  Both still work but the Overdrive Account gives you extra features which I outline below.

It is often confusing for new users to understand the difference during the setup process.  The first time you set up the Overdrive Media Console (OMC) on a device, it prompts you to sign in or register.  This is the Overdrive Account and you can register by supplying an email address and picking a password.  (Note: you may also use your Facebook account instead of an email address).

Later in the process, after you have specified ICPL as your library, you will have to sign in again using your library card barcode number and password. In both cases, after you sign in the first time, it will typically remember your passwords for both accounts.

The Overdrive Account has some features that some of you may take advantage of.  If you have several devices that you use for eBooks or eAudioBook, the Overdrive account will sync your progress and bookmarks between your different devices.  For example, if you listen to the same eAudioBook at home on an iPad and also on your Android phone on the way to home from work, it will keep track of where you are on both devices.  However, please note that you do have to actually download the eAudioBook to both devices;  In other words, it doesn’t automatically push your checkouts to all your devices.

Another “gotcha” to watch out for:  If you have set one device up with an Adobe ID and another device with an Overdrive Account, things can get wonky.  You may not be able to download an eBook to both devices.  We recommend using your Overdrive Account with all devices set up with a library card.  As always, feel free to call the library for help with sorting out problems with Overdrive.  Or even better, bring your device(s) down to our Drop-In Tech Help.  Here are some links you may find helpful:

More about OverDrive Account

More info on “syncing” your devices

Managing your devices

Overdrive Tips: Two Bookshelves

by Brent Palmer on January 28th, 2015

I’ve gotten several comments from enthusiastic Overdrive users recently.  Overdrive is the platform that we use to lend eBooks and eAudiobooks.  There are many patrons who use this service avidly, but even veteran users are sometimes confused about various aspects of the Overdrive Service.  This is the first in a series of posts I hope will help clear up some of those issues.

ODlogo1Overdrive Media Console (OMC) is the mobile app that is needed to use our eBook and eAudiobook service.  One of the most confusing aspects of this app is that there are actually two bookshelves.  One bookshelf is called the “library bookshelf” and the other is the “app bookshelf“.

The library bookshelf (also known as your “account”) shows what titles you currently have checked out.  The app bookshelf shows which titles you have checked out and downloaded to your device.  If you have checked a book out, but not downloaded it to your device, it will show up on the library bookshelf but not the app bookshelf.  This is a common source of confusion for new users.  A key concept for OMC is understanding the difference and  being able to navigate between the two bookshelves.  See these two Overdrive help articles:

Navigating to the library bookshelf

Navigating to the app bookshelf

Stay tuned.  In the future I’ll address other topics such as Understanding eBook Formats, What’s an AdobeID?, and How To Return a Title.  In the meantime, if you have a question you’d like covered in Overdrive Tips (or maybe you want to share one), please email me.  I’ll also remind you that we have time and staff dedicated each week to answer your questions about Overdrive in Drop-In Tech Help.