I remember downloading my first audio book from the Grand Island library in 2009. It took quite a while since I had dial-up internet at the time. Then I had to transfer it from my computer to my iPod. I still remember the thrill of listening to a book while cleaning the house.

     Audio books started out as records. In the 1930s the Library of Congress and the American Foundation for the Blind established what we know as Books for the Blind. They originally provided audio books for veterans and others with visual impairments. Audio books evolved like music did. The first audio books were records, or LPs. Somehow skipping 8-track tapes, the next audio books were cassette tapes, then compact discs (CDs) and finally MP3s, a downloadable format.

     The idea of reading a book on a screen is as old as the 1930s. Idea-man Bob Brown envisioned a screen that was portable and allowed the user to change the size of the print. In 1993 the concept of modern ebooks took off. Libraries began offering downloadable ebooks in 2003.

     In 2008 the Nebraska Library Commission joined OverDrive. This membership  made it easy for patrons in 178 libraries across the state to download audio books. The Commission began offering downloadable ebooks in 2010.

     The Nebraska Library Commission maintains the OverDrive website for participating state libraries. This means most libraries in the state have access to the same website and the same books. Our library catalog is set up so you can see both our physical items as well as the items available for download through OverDrive.

     Licensing agreements allow one book/one patron, just like with physical items. If you want to read or listen to a popular book on your device and someone else has it checked out, you can place a hold on the item, like you would at the library.

     You also don't have to worry about having overdue items- they are automatically removed from your device when they are due. What if you're not done when your time is up? OverDrive will let you renew items, if they are not on hold for other users. If they are, you can reserve the item again and it will pick back up where you left off.

      Technology keeps changing and now most OverDrive users are using an app to access their downloaded books. The original app was called OverDrive. Their newer app, which has been out for several years, is called Libby. The OverDrive app will be phased out soon, so if you are still using the OverDrive app, you might want to download the Libby app. Libby works very much like the OverDrive app and most people find it more user-friendly.

       The process is different for Amazon Fire or Kindle users. These changes to OverDrive won't affect people who use Amazon devices, only people who are using the OverDrive app.

     OverDrive has been an amazing addition to the way libraries can provide books to the public. If you enjoy reading on your tablet, the Libby app offers magazines too. Magazines aren't licensed the way books are, so there is no waiting to "flip through" the newest issue of a magazine.

     Stop by the library if you would like to learn how to download books to your phone or tablet, we'll be happy to help you. You can find a lot of items on the OverDrive library that we don't have space or budget for in the physical building.

     I keep track of the books I read on a website called Goodreads. Because I drive a lot, I listen to OverDrive audiobooks while driving. This is how I generally read (and listen to) around 80 books a year.