Check It Out:

Download library material any time

January 10, 2009|By Andrew Kachaturian

Did you know you can borrow materials from the Newport Beach Public Library in the middle of the night while you’re lounging around in your pajamas? If you enjoy listening to audio books on your computer or MP3 player, or reading an electronic book (eBook) on your computer or hand-held, then you may be very interested in a library resource called OverDrive Digital Library.

With OverDrive, you can download titles to your personal computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You are allowed five titles in a two-week period. The titles that are available use the .wma (Windows Media Audio) file format, which means that your player must be able to use this form of digital rights management. Unfortunately, at this time, that means this service is not compatible with iPods or iPhones.

The site is easy to browse through, with links for different genres, or you can simply perform searches for titles or authors. Titles are also separated between audio and eBooks.


OverDrive stocks a wide selection of classic titles along with some newer offerings, from fiction, mystery and science fiction to nonfiction, biography, health and business. Many titles allow an unlimited number of checkouts (meaning, they’re always available). If something that interests you is not currently available, you can place a hold on it.

Every item has a description that displays how many parts are involved, the size of the download, how many copies are owned by the system, and whether burning to CD is possible. Book summaries, author biographies, and digital rights are also displayed.

The OverDrive “Guided Tour” is a great way to begin learning how to use this service. You will need to download the OverDrive media console as well as a Windows Media Player plug-in, once OverDrive is installed. Everything is well detailed within the guided tour, and reference staff at the library are available if you get stuck somewhere along the way. To utilize eBooks, there are separate downloads for their applications as well (Adobe Reader and MobiPocket).

You can sign in by selecting the Newport Beach Public Library from the list of participating libraries and entering your library card number. From your account (called “My Digital Bookshelf”) you can view what items you have checked out as well as your unfilled holds.

Once you check out a title, you are free to download the associated parts at your leisure, so those of you on dial-up Internet can just download the parts you want to hear that day and come back for the rest later.

To get started, simply visit the Newport Beach Public Library home page ( and click on the “Downloadable Books” links just below the catalog link.

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, please contact the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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