By Karen Reilly | Valley Voices
We know that our community enjoys visiting the beautiful Mission Valley Branch Library, and we certainly enjoy seeing you. But did you know that you can use San Diego Public Library resources without ever leaving your home? We use part of our materials budget every year for our “ecollection” — e-books, e-audiobooks, digital magazines, newspapers and other databases which you can access through your computer, smartphone or tablet — and they’re available 24/7.
For example, we buy e-books and e-audiobooks from a service called cloudLibrary. Our cloudLibrary collection includes a wide variety of titles, including best-seller fiction and non-fiction, romances, travel guides, Spanish language books and books for kids and teens. If you download the cloudLibrary app and log in with your library card number and PIN, you can then browse our collection or search for a specific title, and check books out directly through the app.
Through cloudLibrary’s cloudLink service, San Diego Public Library partners with other libraries around the country to share our e-book and e-audiobook collections. This has made a total of 92,000 titles available to our patrons! Still, we don’t have unlimited copies of each title, and this collection is very popular. If you see something you want, it may be checked out, and you can place it on hold just like a regular book. You will get an email when it’s available to be checked out, and then you will be able to check it out right through your device.
We also buy e-audiobooks from a company called RB Digital. Like cloudLibrary, RB Digital is app-based, but you will need to set up your user name and password through our website (look for “eCollection”). Once you have done that, download the app, and then you can log in with your new user name and password and check out audiobooks. Does your car have Bluetooth? Perfect! You no longer have to fumble with CDs while you are driving.
RB Digital also carries magazines — including Cooks Illustrated, The New Yorker, Martha Stewart Living, Newsweek, Architectural Digest, The Economist, Bicyclist, Car and Driver and 147 more. These are digital versions of the print magazines, and granted, they are easier to read on a large tablet or your computer than on your smartphone (unless you have very, very young eyes). In order to have access to more magazines, we buy our digital magazines with other members of the Serra Library Cooperative System, so you will need to come up with a separate user name and password for the magazine collection. Once you have done that, you can use both profiles on the RB Digital app.
Our final source of e-books: enki. This platform has an eclectic assortment of study guides, travel guides, graphic novels and classics. You read enki books using the BlueFire Reader app, and you need to browse them and check them out on our website using the default browser on whatever device you plan to read them on (for example, the Safari browser on Apple products).
In addition to digital books, we subscribe to dozens of research databases. Did you just find out that your child needs three sources for their school report by tomorrow, and it’s 9 p.m.? Never fear, we’re still open online! Biography in Context, History in Context, Science in Context, Opposing Viewpoints, our newspaper and magazine databases — you can log into any of these with your library card number and PIN, and pull up dozens of authoritative articles on almost any subject, each with a bibliography-ready citation at the bottom. Peterson’s Testing and Education Reference Center has study guides for many civil service exams, SAT and AP study guides and practice tests, and TOEFL and U.S. Citizenship study guides. And if you’re looking for business leads, Reference USA allows you to search its 14 million businesses by geographic area (for example, your ZIP code, or within 5 miles of your house), business type, and dozens of other factors.
The city of San Diego Public Library subscribes to these services because it would be too expensive for the average San Diegan to subscribe to them. By using your tax dollars, we make these resources available to all San Diegans at no charge — and around the clock.
—Karen E. Reilly is branch manager of the Mission Valley Library. Reach her at email@example.com.