Week 7 Wrap Up – What’s Next?

If you’re reading this, you’re a tenacious e-learner.  You’ve made it through 6 online learning sessions and may have some insights to share.

Who do you share your insights with?  At SJPL, the  Electronic Resources Team reviews online resources, tries out new databases and makes recommendations for what is offered.   This team meets on the first Friday every other month and the next meeting is scheduled for August 2nd.   Members of ERT include:  Sandra Stewart, Margaret Yamasaki, JoAnn Wang, Lucille Boone, Sharon Fung, Mike Sarhad, Karen Laughlin, Elise Tavella, Tim Collins and Kristi Bell.

Now on to the final assignment for this week!:

1. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and the American Life Project regularly posts research studies about online trends.  Read the article on Children, Parents, Libraries and Reading  What are parents saying about electronic resources in the library?  Do you think these opinions are correct?  What could we be doing for families to support their use of our e-resources?

2. Take a look at one of our online resources — your choice entirely — and come up with three marketing ideas that we could try to get more customers to use the service.  Post your ideas below.

Please leave a comment with your responses, full name, and assigned locations to earn a raffle entry, by Tuesday, July 2!


Week 6: Databases for Teens/Adults

We return now to Databases – the traditional bread & butter of library eResources.  All our databases can be accessed from our SJPL web site at www.sjpl.org/databases (Go through the ‘Learn‘ section when starting from the Home Page).  There are over 50 different sources to choose from.  Most staff are probably familiar with the many EBSCO services for searching articles (Academic Search Complete, Masterfile, and all the niche-subject “Reference Centers”…), so for this week we’re going to focus on a few of the more odd-ball sources that do something besides serve up articles.  Some of these don’t see the high usage from customers that we’d like, so we want to make sure staff are aware of them and are recommending them whenever appropriate.

Mango Languages

Mango is a study program for learning languages using repetition and step-by-step lesson plans that work through common conversational elements, so you can quickly pick up basic conversation skills for travel or business.  There are currently over 60 languages to choose from (they frequently add more) under “Foreign Courses”, from the perspective of an English speaker.  Under “English Courses” you can find ESL classes for non-English speakers, from the perspective of 16 different native languages.  The lessons are visually interactive and voice-enabled, including microphone options to record your speaking voice for comparison against the native speaker.  To best track your progress in Mango, you should create a unique account; however, you can still sample the service anonymously by clicking the “Start Learning” button on the login screen.

Learning Express Library

Learning Express offers hundreds of online practice tests, PDF eBooks, skill building courses, and job search and workplace skills resources.  Some of the test included are: SAT, GED, GRE, GMAT, Civil Service jobs, ASVAB, ACT, TOEFL, Commercial Drivers License, and Citizenship. All tests provide scores and answer explanations. The resume course allows one to create, save, and print a PDF resume.  Tests can be started, saved, and finished later.  This database is the place to go for career tests especially if your library does not have a particular test book or you have an outdated print version.  You do need to create a unique account with Learning Express Library to take the tests, but you can first browse what they have  available by entering one of the 11 Learning Centers at the left.

Shmoop Online Test Prep

Shmoop is another test preparation service, this one a little more geared to a teen audience. Includes practice exams, drill problems, and review guides for lots of SAT and AP Exams, as well as some ACT, PSAT, CAHSEE, ASVAB, and GED exams.  Again, you need to create a unique account to use the service (you can’t browse much without it).

Tuition Funding Sources

Tuition Funding Sources is a service to help students learn about financial aid and student loans, find scholarships, college and career information.  You will need to create an account in order to use any part of the service (you don’t have to provide your name or address but you will need to select the state you live in, enter an email address as your username, and choose a password).

Tutor.com SkillsCenter Resource Library

Most of us are probably familiar with Tutor.com’s live homework help service, but they also have in-depth resource centers available 24/7.  These include subject-based worksheets, tutorials, videos, and study guides for all schooling levels, standardized tests preparation (ASVAB, GED, GRE, SAT, ACT, etc.), citizenship, financial literacy, job openings, job resources, resumes and cover letters.  Although you use your library card # as your username, you do have to establish an account in order to use the service.  After logging in, scroll past the 4 “Center” boxes to get to the 3 “Skill Center Resource Library” offerings: Study, Test Prep, and Career Resources.

Custom Guide Online Software Training

Learn a variety of software products online for free, including MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, QuickBooks, SharePoint and more. You need to create an account (notice a pattern here?) in order to use the service.  Printable PDF Quick Reference Guides covering training modules and keyboard shortcuts are available from a separate URL, some are available to sample without logging in.

NOTE: For anyone who may be interested in further training, our previous blog-based training course, “Database Delight” is still available.  It covers many of the article-based EBSCO databases we didn’t get a chance to look at this time.  Do note that links to pages on our website are obsolete, though.

Activities for this week:

  1. Create an account and try out two of the services listed above, taking either a test, tutorial, or course (whatever they happen to offer).  Tell us what class/test you took and what you discovered about the two services.
  2. Can you think of ways to promote/market these services with our customers?

Please leave a comment with your responses, full name, and assigned locations to earn a raffle entry, by Wednesday, June 26!

Week 5: Axis 360

This week we’re looking at the last of our downloadable eBook vendors, Axis 360 – a growing collection from Baker & Taylor. Like OverDrive and OneClickDigital, users can find the service on our Collections page or discover individual titles through the Library Catalog.

Axis 360 Magic WallWhen you first enter Axis 360, you are presented with the “Magic Wall” – a gallery of spinning covers you can browse or filter by new, popular, “hidden gems” (not popular), and recently returned.  (Ignore the options to filter for eBooks vs Audio Books at the left, we don’t collect from their Audio Book selection).  Beyond the selections on the Magic Wall, the more thorough way to browse the collection is through the “Browse by Subject” tab.  You can see from the numbers in parentheses how many books are found in each subject area.  The strengths are clearly in Fiction and Juvenile Fiction, though there is a wide variety of non-fiction categories to choose from too.  While browsing by subject, additional filters will appear on the left.  “Available Now” and the genre (“Subject”) filters can be useful when browsing popular fiction.  So if you can’t find a title you want from OverDrive, be sure to check Axis 360!

You initially sign into Axis 360 with your library card and PIN number to check out or place holds on the eBooks.  Axis 360 provides downloadable eBooks in both ePub and Blio formats:

ePub eBooks

After checking out an ePub eBook, a “Download” link will appear directly within the Axis 360 interface (if you decide to wait on downloading, you can get back to these links by searching for the book again, or looking at your “Items on Loan”).  The downloaded ePub files open in Adobe Digital Editions – software most staff should already have and be familiar with from using OverDrive.

Blio eBooks

Blio ReaderThe Blio files open in Blio Reader – a separate software download that requires creation of a Blio account/username.  Be sure not to confuse this Blio account with the library card login you use earlier (you can link the two together under “My Account” in Axis 360 for a smoother experience).  You’ll be immediately prompted for your Blio login upon checking out a Blio eBook.  After check out in Axis 360, you will have to go launch the Blio Reader and login to it to read the book.  Blio is a full color, sometimes “interactive” format that is especially good for many children’s titles.  There are features to enable text-to-speech and word highlighting so children can follow along as the story is read to them (though unless the kid is really into robots, most parents will want to install a more friendly human-voice to replace the default one).  Students will appreciate the ability to highlight and annotate Blio text.  There is a pretty good Support Center for Blio available though it is very difficult to find a link to it from within Axis 360, instead use the link from our library’s eBook Tech Support and Help page.

Mobile Devices – Get the App!

Software downloads and/or apps can be found under Axis 360’s “App Zone” tab, or the device’s App Store.  Adobe Digital Editions is available for Windows and as an app for Apple devices.  Blio is available for Windows and as an app for Android or Apple devices, with a “sideloading” option for Kindle Fire.  One important point to keep in mind – unlike the OverDrive app, the Blio app is only a reader for checked-out Blio titles, you still need to do the searching and check-out for new titles through the normal Axis 360 site in your device’s web browser.  Titles can also be transferred from a desktop computer to a synched device.  Nook users, for example, should transfer Axis 360 ePub eBooks to their device using Adobe Digital Editions on their computer.

Activities for this week:

  1. Check out and download a Blio format eBook from Axis 360 on either your desktop computer or mobile device.  What do you think of the Blio format?  Did you encounter any difficulties in the process?
  2. How do you think Axis 360 compares with the other downloadable eBook services, OverDrive and OneClickDigital?

Please leave a comment with your responses, full name, and assigned locations to earn a raffle entry, by Tuesday, June 18!

UPDATE (6/13): Blio should already be installed on staff PCs, but I’m told by IT that there was a recent update to the software that needs to happen.   This update is preventing it from working now.  Please contact the IT help desk to request the update and let them know the name of the PC(s).  If you can’t get the software in time for the assignment, and don’t have the option to try on a mobile device, just note that in your comments as others have or try downloading an ePub eBook instead.

Week 4: OneClickDigital

This week we are discussing OneClickDigital, our awesome collection of  eAudiobooks.  This is a great resource for our audiobook loving customers- it features a large variety of popular fiction and non-fiction titles and works well with many different devices.

First time users will create an account on the OneClickDigital website that they can get to from our Collections page. Once a user has created an account, they can login and start checking out eAudiobooks. Customers can listen to eAudiobooks on their desktop computer, portable music player, mobile device or tablet.

From a desktop computer

Download the OneClickDigital Media Manager for Windows or Mac.  Download links are available on the “Getting Started” link on the OneClickDigital homepage.  Titles downloaded in the Media Manager can be played on the computer or transferred to supported music players, like an ipod, via USB.  See the Supported Devices page for more compatible music players.

With the OneClickDigital app

For a mobile device or tablet, customers should get the OneClickDigital app at the corresponding device’s app store. Once downloaded and opened, the app will list all the titles a customer has checked out and the titles can be played right there from the app.

A note about using the app:  Browsing for additional titles within the app takes a customer to the website where one can browse and checkout more titles.  However, when a customer is in the website view they cannot play an eAudiobook- so click on the “close” button at the top right to return to the app. This will return the customer to the “My Titles” screen so they can play their eAudiobook.

A word on device indicators

Most titles on the OneClickDigital website have icons indicating that they play on Windows or Apple products.  However, the app is available for all Android phones or tablets and the Kindle Fire and Nook Color, Nook Tablet and Nook HD in their respective app stores so don’t let that get in the way of downloading from OneClickDigital.

Lots of extra help

OneClickDigital has a really comprehensive help section that will come in really handy when dealing with customer issues.  Customers can also call or email OneClickDigital if they are having an issue.

Here are this weeks questions!

  1. Play around on the OneClickDigital site an find a title you would like to download – what steps would you take to listen to it on a device of your choice? (Actually download onto a device or work computer if possible)

  2. What do you like or dislike about this service?  Would you recommend it to patrons?

Please leave a comment with your responses, full name, and assigned locations to earn a raffle entry, by Tuesday, June 11! Happy listening! 


Week 3: eBooks Online

This week we’re looking at eBooks that can (or must) be read online.  Downloadable eBooks from vendors like OverDrive are covered in other weeks of this program.  You can access the vendor’s interface for each of these eBook platforms directly from our Collections page.  Individual titles can also be discovered through our Library Catalog.

Books 24×7

This collection’s strength is in computers/IT and “well-ness” topics.  It’s worth noting that “well-ness”, in this case, goes beyond just health and into many aspects of day-to-day living including consumer, business, home improvement, legal, and much more.  Category browsing options can be found in a box to the right when you enter the interface.  The individual books are read a page at a time using any web browser (HTML), so there is no additional software required.  It is not possible to download these titles, they must be read online.  There is also an option to add your own notes to the books as you go.

One really cool unique feature of this service is that, in addition to the eBooks, there are also hundreds of instructional videos available on the computer/IT topics.  These can be found through the category browsing menu under either the ‘Desktop video’ or ‘IT and Technical Video’ choices.  The videos just use a standard Flash plugin.

Safari Books Online

This collection consisting of 5000+ titles has a strength (again) in computers/IT (including the well-known O’Reilly series) with a bit of math, science, and engineering.   Like Books 24×7, everything is read as HTML in a web browser, without any additional software and no option to download.  Some titles will offer ‘extras’ – supplemental links or resources – available from any book’s ‘information’ page (where it says ‘Start Reading’).

SJSU also has a subscription to Safari Books Online with many different titles, so be careful when discovering these books through the Library Catalog.  SJPL books will have a link that says “an eBook available to San Jose Library customers“.  You can filter out the SJSU materials by selecting the ‘SJPL’ Location facet.

EBSCO eBooks

This platform used to be known as “NetLibrary” before it merged with EBSCO.  It presents a lot of non-fiction categories, but the stronger topics include: business/economics, computer science, literary criticism, and health.  It has some fictional titles too, mostly public domain works (“classics”).  Online, the books are viewed a page at a time in an embedded PDF viewer which can sometimes be a clunky experience depending on your browser.

With EBSCO eBooks, you do have the option of downloading the titles as PDFs (sometimes ePub) that can be read using Adobe Digital Editions (an additional software download, if you don’t already have it from using OverDrive).  You will need to set up a personal account with EBSCO in order to download or add personal notes.

Tip: When you first enter the EBSCO eBook interface, you’ll be presented with an easy visual screen for browsing cover titles and categories.  However, it’s easy to lose this screen as you go deeper into the system; most links kick you back to the standard EBSCO ‘Basic Search’ screen.  To get back to the category browse, use the ‘eBooks’ link in the top blue nav bar (3rd link from the left).

Try out the 3 eBook services above and answer these questions:

  1. Which service was hardest and easiest to use? Why?
  2. Which service did you find had the most useful/interesting content?

Please leave a comment with your responses, full name, and assigned locations to earn a raffle entry, by Tuesday, June 4!

Note: Originally, Week 3 was scheduled to cover “eBooks and Databases for Teens and Adults”.  We’ve decided to split this topic and extend the whole program an additional week. “Databases for Teens/Adults” will now be Week 6 and our “Conclusion” will occur Week 7.  So you have an opportunity to earn an additional raffle entry!

Week 2 – eBooks and Databases for Kids

It’s 6:30pm Thursday evening, you’re enjoying the Giants game and suddenly your 9 year old asks you to help them with their report, that’s due tomorrow. Before you panic, check out SJPL’s comprehensive selection of databases and eBooks for the younger student!

World Book Online:
Remember when you would go to the library and of ALL the World Book Encyclopedia volumes that had to be used, it was the one YOU wanted? Well worry no more with World Book Online. The online version of this most popular encyclopedia series offers many more features than the print version ever could including video, current events, quizzes, and even a citation builder. You can even quickly get a definition of a word within the text by just double clicking on it! The World Book Kids version even has a list of science experiments and there is also a Spanish language version of World Book Student.

A product of EBSCOhost, Searchasaurus is a kid-friendly research tool where students can find articles on various academic and more fun topics. You can search by a specific reading level or can use the “visual search” tool that helps you narrow or broaden your topic by using a chart technique. And who can resist looking at dinosaurs wearing human clothes?!

Missions of California:
The library will never have enough books about the California Missions, but we’ve solved that problem by having eBook versions available to library customers 24/7!

NoveList K-8 Plus:
Find the perfect read for a child by checking out NoveList K-8 Plus. There a variety of different ways you can search fiction and non-fiction materials including: title, author nationality, Lexile reading level, language, Dewey range, and grade level. Users can also search for other books with similar characteristics in tone, subject, writing style, genre, and storyline. Please be aware this database does not reflect the actual library collection so always click on the “Check the Library Catalog” link to be sure we have the title.

Books online:
Tumblebooks is a high-interactive reading experience where users can listen and follow along to a variety of children’s picture books. The features of Tumblebooks also include games connected to specific titles, books in French, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian, educational videos, and read-along chapter books. Users can also change the view of the site to make it more mobile device friendly.

OverDrive has an extensive children’s fiction collection of both eBooks and audio books. Find classics or modern reads here! There is also the Disney Online eBook collection where customers can view over 650 Disney titles that are ALWAYS available.

Now it’s your turn to explore!
Check out both the databases and eBooks sites for children and discuss one new resource you’ve discovered:
1) What did you check out and what did you like (or not like) about it?
2) How do you think you can use this to help your customers?

Please leave a comment with your responses, full name, and assigned locations to earn a raffle entry, by Tuesday, May 28!

Week 1: General Overview / OverDrive

Welcome to Week 1 of the San Jose Public Library eBranch Excitement staff training program! Congratulations on deciding to participate in this self-paced online learning opportunity. Not only will you come away more familiar with SJPL’s online services, you’ll get a chance to win a grand prize pack and help your location win a Pizza Party! Most importantly, we hope that you’ll learn some new and interesting resources in the process.

First, let’s start with an overview. SJPL’s ebooks, eaudiobooks, emagazines, and databases are available 24-7. The library offers fiction, non-fiction, academic journals, popular magazines, and music as well as materials for teens and children, which you can read or listen to, on either your computer or a tablet or SmartPhone or other device.

Compared to the spring of 2011 when we presented the eBooks Excitement training program, SJPL offers a much wider, larger collection of ebooks, including Books24x7, an online collection of computer, IT, and wellness ebooks; OneClickDigital from Recorded Books; and Axis 360 from Baker&Taylor. (Be sure to look over the older training if you’d like to see how far we’ve come!)

We’ll go into each collection specifically in the upcoming weeks but please look around each service and be sure you are familiar with these newer collections. All of the titles from these three new collections are also found in the catalog.

Now, two years later, many of the issues we discussed around Digital Rights Management (DRM) are still relevant (you still need separate software for each vendor, and there’s no way you can look at your electronic checkouts with your physical items in your online library account, and you still will probably have to wait for popular titles) but in terms of content availability, things are much brighter.  After a pilot program (involving SJPL among other libraries), the Hachette Book Group announced it will sell its full catalog of ebooks to libraries, instead of just their backlist (titles published prior to 2010; this publisher represents authors such as James Patterson and David Sedaris.) This is great news ~ it means access to more content and there’s more momentum on this front!

Also, SJPL is doing much more in terms of delivering cutting edge library services. For example, the new Educational Park Branch will feature laptop, tablet, and Chrome notebook checkouts, as well as spaces to share screens and collaborate. The Bascom Branch will feature large digital art display screens for teens to customize in its Teen area. All very exciting!

Now, let’s dive into OverDrive!

OverDrive is our largest and oldest collection of downloadable ebooks.  It includes eaudiobooks in MP3 and WMA format, and ebooks in Kindle, ePUB, and PDF formats. The site was recently updated so if you have not yet viewed the introductory video, please do so – most importantly, you can now listen to eaudiobook samples, and also read ebooks directly in the browser.

Also, an OverDrive app is available for most popular devices so that’s the easiest way for customers to get content directly on their device.

With OverDrive, you can choose to check out these items for 7, 14, or 21 days. Customers may check out ten OverDrive titles at a time. No, there are no renewals – but that will hopefully change soon.

You can search the OverDrive collection from the catalog or go to their page directly. But, if you search from the catalog, you don’t get an idea if the material you found is actually available or not until you click through to OverDrive. If you search from OverDrive directly, you can search for available items only. We’re hoping that all this will change soon as OverDrive will support integration with My Account and other features!

Also, OverDrive has a large selection of help files and videos.

Please note that OverDrive is the ONLY ebook collection where if you have a block on your account, you won’t be able to check out any ebooks, either.

So what can go wrong? Here are some common error messages and issues, and what to do. 

“There are unresolved issues with your account”: The most main issue that we hear about from customers are account related issues. Because OverDrive does check your customer account, if there are fines over $10 or a block or an incomplete item or an expired card, you won’t be able to check out with OverDrive. (You can check out with the other ebook vendors, though.) So please check for these issues when a customer has problems!

“Media file is corrupted”: Secondly, if you want to download something in WMA format to your Apple device, you have to first download to a PC and then transfer the content – you can’t use a Mac first.

“I got an email that the book I put a hold on is available but it’s not there”: Holds are only available for 72 hours, so if you wait too long, the hold will expire. Also, customers may have used a different library card/same email for the hold. Most annoyingly, once a hold item is added to the bookbag it must be checked out within 30 minutes or it will be automatically returned to the collection and must be requested gain.

When customers have a problem with OverDrive, please have them email sjplebooksupport@gmail.com for the fastest resolution! 

For this week’s exercise, first, try out OverDrive. You can download a title using the app to a personal device, or download a title to your work computer.

Then, look through sjpl.org, and YouTube, which has a large number of OverDrive and other ebook help content, and OverDrive’s Help section.

Then, here’s the part where you participate – please leave a comment with your responses, full name, and assigned locations to earn a raffle entry, by Tuesday, May 28 – that’s right, you get an extra week for this first week!

Here are the questions:

1. What online help resource did you find? Please share the link and summarize the contents.

2. What’s the one piece of advice you would share with someone new to OverDrive? Do you have any tips and tricks you use with customers that you can share?

Happy downloading!