For regular library patrons, the days of placing holds on books may be over, or at least much less frequent.
Several local libraries belong to the N.C. Digital Library, where patrons can download books straight to their home computers. As of this month, the system has 3,061 audio titles, 348 eBooks, 244 videos and nearly 100 music titles.
Eager to check it out? A link to the NCDL is on the home pages of the Catawba County and Gaston-Lincoln library systems. Or go straight to the NCDL at ncdigital.lib.overdrive.com. You will need your patron number to check out items.
On the left side of the NCDL home page, choose a category, such as Classic Literature or General Nonfiction, or browse titles on the main page.
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If you know which format you want, such as audio book (audio file you can listen to on your computer or portable device) or eBook (a text version for your computer screen or portable device), you can browse by format.
Click on the title or cover image for the book you want. On its page is information such as the author, publisher, summary and digital formats available. Not all titles are available in all formats.
Next, click "Add to my NCDL eBookBag" and choose either "Continue Browsing" or "Proceed to Checkout." You will be prompted to log in. Choose your library system and enter your patron number.
The first time you use the system, you must follow steps to download software to your computer. For example, eBooks are available on Adobe or Mobipocket. If you want a title that is available only on Mobipocket, you must download that software before checking out. For audio books, music and videos, download the OverDrive Media Console. These are all one-time downloads.
Choose "Proceed to Checkout" and click the buttons to download each book. You can view items on your computer without going back to the library system. Most titles expire after seven days.
On the OverDrive Media Console, you can view the books, music, and video you've selected. Books show the title and author, narrator, checkout and expiration dates, and the length of the recording. There are also options to play the audio book on the computer, transfer it to a portable device, or burn it to a CD.
You can read eBookson the computer or transfer to mobile devices or readers, such as the Sony Reader.
If you get stuck, the NCDL main page has help options. If all else fails, call your local librarian for help.
It may seem easier just to check out books the old-fashioned way. But like most technology, it's not as tough as it seems once you get familiar with it.