Stuck Home? Need Something to Read? Evanston Public Library’s Got Your Back

March 17, 2020

Well folks, it happened. The library up and closed on you and here you are without anything to read. A great big library full of books, but you can’t get access to them. Does that sound fair?

Not to worry. Consider this a golden opportunity. After all, it has never been a better time to discover the wide and wonderful world of e-books. Do electronic books and audiobooks sound scary or weird? They’re not! These are just a new way to read all your favorites without leaving the comfort of your own home. And luckily for you, EPL has a whole range of options to choose from. Not just books either but also movies are sitting there just ripe for the watching. Here’s a quick How To guide on your options:

Overdrive / Libby

Okay, let’s start with the place that will have the LARGEST selection of ebooks just waiting for you. To make sure you get access to as many books as possible, Evanston Public Library belongs to an ebook consortium called the Digital Library of Illinois. Basically, a whole slew of local libraries came together to pool our ebooks. That means that even if we don’t have the specific title available that you’re looking for, at least there’s plenty of other things to browse. To access these books and audiobooks, all you need is your library card. Then you can either go to this website or download the Overdrive app which is named Libby. From there you’ll be asked to sign in with your library card. After that, all you need to do is find what you’re interested in and download it. Sometimes you’ll find that someone else has “checked out” the item you want. Don’t worry. You can just put it on hold and find something else to read or listen to in the interim.


hoopla logo

Don’t feel like waiting around for someone to return an e-item? Then check out Hoopla, where there’s never a wait. Like Overdrive you can download the app or go to the aforementioned website to check out the selection. See something you like? You can check it out immediately! Just bear in mind that we have a daily limit and if too many people download items in a single day you might have to wait until the next day to get what you want. Best of all, there’s music, movies, and TV shows to choose from. All for the taking.


introducing Kanopy

Of course, Hoopla’s movies and TV shows are a bit . . . limited sometimes. What if you wanted to see a classic film or something from the Criterion collection? What if you wanted to pluck something from a huge selection of indie films or documentaries? What if you wanted something from the Great Courses series? All of that, and much more, is available through Kanopy. And like Hoopla, everything you’ll find there is instantly available. Be careful, though. You’re only allowed three titles per month, so if you accidentally download something there’s nothing to be done!


So here’s a question for you. What if you’ve an interest in reading the books written by your fellow Evanstonians? Is there a place where you can find ebooks by local writers? There is! Introducing Biblioboard. Like Knopy and Hoopla it’s based on simultaneous use. Browse works by locals or, if you’re feeling brave, check out the other self-published titles available. Are you interested in maybe getting your own book on the site as well. You can! With our program, you can format and submit your own title.


Enjoy the range of selections from your favorite local library. And don’t worry. Soon enough we’ll be up and running again, but now you’ll have the knowledge you need to keep checking out ebooks in the future. Cheers!

Libraries on the Front Lines: What You Need to Know About Changes to Your Ebooks

August 14, 2019

In the beginning, when libraries around the world started buying and circulating ebooks for the very first time, publishers were concerned. Very concerned. Suddenly the old lending models didn’t seem to apply anymore. Why should libraries be allowed to circulate digital titles, books that will never show wear and tear after multiple uses, without needing to buy replacement copies? With that in mind, publishers instituted “metered copies”. Essentially, a library buys an electronic book or audiobook, and then after a designated amount of time it “expires” and they have to buy another one to replace it. Publishers argue that this is only fair and that this books ebooks on the same level as their print equivalents. Libraries would disagree. After all, often times a “metered” copy circulates only 20 or 30 times. We have books on our shelves in decent condition that have gone out twice as long.

This all came to a head in the last few months when several of the large publishers of digital content decided to scale library accessibility. Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster became the first of the Big Five publishers to meter digital audio purchases in libraries. Now digital audio licenses from these two publishers will now expire after 24 months. Why was this done? Well, it certainly wasn’t because of poor sales. Digital audio sales have shown double digit growth in the last six years with no change in sight. Clearly libraries have been helping to expose people to audio titles that have been sold to new customers later. Tell that to the publishers, though.

The most egregious changes, however, have come from Macmillan and Recorded Books. Macmillan’s are amongst most extreme. In a new policy to embargo new titles for library lending, libraries everywhere (no matter how large or small) will only be permitted to purchase one (1) copy of each title for the first 8 weeks. You heard that right. No matter how big the book, we’ll only have one e-copy for the first few months of publication. Macmillan CEO John Sargent wrote an explanation to Macmillan authors, illustrators, and agents explaining that they ran a test of Tor e-titles in libraries and sales were low. However, when this research was challenged by the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Sargent “declined to be more specific” on the details of this study. Overdrive (the company that provides many of our e-titles and the Libby app) CEO and founder Steve Potash delivered a scathing indictment of this change in a piece called “Macmillan Publishes a Work of Fiction“. If you have five minutes to spare, I highly recommend that you Google it.

Meanwhile, the company Blackstone has offered its own embargo. Libraries must now wait to purchase an undetermined number of their eAudiobooks for 90 days after the books have been released to the public. They hope that library patrons will not wish to wait 90 days to borrow the book, and will buy the book privately instead. This move has angered libraries so much that it has inspired a widespread Blackstone boycott by nationwide library systems. Evanston Public Library has not joined the boycott as of this time.

Big changes are afoot and where this will all fall out, we don’t know. Please be aware, however, that we will do our utmost to bring you the titles you want and love, regardless of the restrictions placed on us in the future.

The Voices inside My Head

August 11, 2010

I hear voices inside my head. Don’t worry, they are not telling me to do dangerous or illegal things. They are benign and quite useful. I suspect that many folks hear these kinds of voices, too. They are the voices of  the narrators of books. When I read a novel narrated by a character in the story, I assign an imaginary voice to him or her and that’s the voice I “hear” as I read. I thought I would be interesting to find out how my imaginary voices compared with the narrators engaged by the publishers of two books that I read recently, so I downloaded the eAudiobook versions. Both books are set in modern day India and are told by natives of that country. The titles are The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup. For each I had imagined a rich male voice, very expressive, with proper British pronunciation overlaid with a lilting Indian inflection.

For The White Tiger, the narrator’s voice is just perfect. It matched what I imagined–a deep, musical intonation tinged with the irony and humor the author intended. When I investigated who was reading, I was taken aback to discover that the voice emanated from British actor and voice-over artist John Lee, noted for his exceptional talent in doing accents from around the world. Ah, my little bubble of happy listening was nearly burst. Why not have someone actually from India do the reading? Surely there are such people available.  An actor faking the accent seemed to have a tinge of false advertising, and served to undermine the cultural themes at the novel’s center. Why did I care so much? I felt a little cheated. Did this non-Indian reader undermine the power of Adiga’s sharp commentary on the sad state of Indian society? Yes, I think so. Despite this, I still loved the reader’s voice and I would still recommend this as an excellent listen for fans of eAudiobooks. Just forget that I told you the reader was really a British guy.

Six  Suspects by Swarup, author of the book the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire is based on, also deals with corruption and society’s ills, but there is a classic Agatha Christie-like murder mystery at the heart of its plot. Here the reader is Lyndham Gregory. His posh British accent at first has no hint of native Indian when he speaks in the voice of the character who is the story’s narrator. Since this character is an Indian investigative reporter and amateur sleuth, I was disappointed not to hear a voice that fit. Though I do love a crisp British accent, the voice I heard was a bit too dry, too ho-hum. As the story develops and many more characters are introduced, Gregory’s voice takes on the Indian accents of the various characters. He does a pretty good job here, though some seemed forced. Here, too, I wondered why a native Indian reader could not have been found. Swarup wanted to show us the India of the 21st century, warts and all, and I think a native narrator might have delivered the message more authentically. I did enjoy the audio version once I was done grumbling to myself about this subterfuge, but the voice inside my head was born in India.

So, once again I have learned that it is true: be careful what you wish for. I had hoped to find perfect matches to voices inside my head, and I have to report only partial success. I will try again–it is a fun experiment after all, but in these two instances, I am glad I read the books first.

Here are the original staff reviews for these two fine books:

Six Suspects The White Tiger

Barbara L.

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