I volunteer there on alternate Saturdays, and this week a patron asked me how to access free downloadable audio books at Listen Up! Vermont, through the Green Mountain Library Consortium. Though I had been the one to ask, "Can I help you?" I had no idea what he was referring to and couldn't provide help without some outside assistance.
As it turns out, my local library has just this week started subscribing to a service that allows patrons to use their library card number to download audio books, which can then be burned to a CD when allowed by the publisher or transferred to an mp3 device, as well as listened to on a personal computer. Two downloads are allowed at a time, and the files expire after a week, at which point the audio book is 'returned' to the shelf and another patron can 'check it out.' With many of the newest titles, just like a popular recent release at the physical library, there is a waiting list. Older titles are often available all the time, so multiple members can download them the same week rather than waiting their turn. The selection is currently a bit limited: new releases and older classics without much in between, but new material is being added all the time.
Last week a reader recommended I check out Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy on audio book and I was happy to find it in the collection at Listen Up! Vermont, though there is a waiting list, so I got on that right away. I also had mentioned that I wanted to track down a copy of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, which is luckily available through the site as well. A mere five or six week delay while patrons in line in front of me download and listen to the files, and hopefully I'll at least be listening to that work in time for the August Democratic National Convention here in the US, no matter who the candidates are at that point.
Libraries all over are doing their best to provide new services to patrons. Have you been to your local library lately to see what's on offer?