There is strength in numbers. This is a proverb proved true in the state of Tennessee today, as more than 250 public libraries unite to deliver digital audio book and e-Book downloads. Patrons of participating libraries, including the local Art Circle Public Library, can visit reads.lib.overdrive.com, a new site that allows you to check out and download audio books and PDF e-Books with your library cards.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to offer legal, free, digital downloads to many people in the state of Tennessee,” says Debra Kokes, director of the Art Circle Public Library. You may also go to www.artcircle.crossville.com, click on "Online Databases," click on "Reads," select "Art Circle Public Library" and enter your library card number.

To check out materials, cardholders browse the collection, select a title, and then enter a valid library card number to download the digital book. If a title is not immediately available, users can place a hold and will receive an e-mail notification when it’s ready for checkout. After 14 days, the digital books are automatically returned to the system and made available to others. Many titles are “always available,” meaning they feature unlimited, concurrent use. No trip to the library is required, and there are no late fees.

The twelve regional library systems in Tennessee have cooperated to make the project possible. “It gives patrons the flexibility to read or listen to what they want, anytime, anywhere.” Digital books are compatible with many desktops, laptops, tablet PCs, WMA/MP3 players, Pocket PCs, and certain Smartphones. Many audio book titles may be burned to CD and used in car stereos and regular CD players.

“This digital collection supplements the holdings of many of the smallest libraries, and complements the books and CDs of larger libraries,” said Kokes. The digital collection includes hundreds of popular fiction titles from authors like Nora Roberts, Lemony Snicket, James Patterson and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, with titles in business, self-improvement, history, travel, and other non-fiction genres. e-Books in the familiar Adobe® PDF format, as well as digital audio books in the Windows® Media format, are both available for download.

“With computers and Internet access more accessible than ever, we were eager to provide digital book downloads. There was incredible patron demand for the service,” said Kokes, noting that the project received strong support from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Secretary of State’s office. She adds, “With cooperation at every level, and technology by OverDrive, even the smallest of libraries can tell their patrons, 'Yes, we do downloads, also.'”

Funds for READS are provided by the state of Tennessee and by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities.

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