Overdrive Updates Coming Soon…

The following new features will be available to Overdrive users starting Wednesday, April 29th.

  • If a user borrows a title and the title has (or accumulates) holds, the user will no longer see a “Renew” link for that title on their bookshelf.  Instead, they will see a “Request Again” link that lets them join the title’s holds list and borrow the title again when it becomes available. This is the same way that the “Renew” link currently works for titles with holds; only the language is being updated.
  • The limitation that only lets users renew a title (or request it again) one time during their loan is being removed.


  • Users will be able to assign star ratings to titles they currently have checked out right from their bookshelf. Users will still be able to rate any title from the title’s details page as well.


  • A new “Narrated” label will help users identify which eBooks are available in OverDrive Read with narration:


  • On the title details pages for narrated eBooks, users will also see an audio icon next to the OverDrive Read format:


  • From here, users can click either the “Narrated” label or the audio  icon to learn more about narration.
  •  The “Enhanced” label for enhanced titles will be updated to match the style of the “Narrated” label:


Sharon (Mt. Lebanon)

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Explore With Explora

Ebsco recently released a new “Explora” interface available for several databases offered through POWER library. They provide a more intuitive search experience for patrons and feature an appealing, mostly user-friendly design that, according to Ebsco, can be easily viewed on mobile devices.  Our brief experience with the interfaces on a mobile device, however, did not bear this final claim out.

Three Explora interfaces are available:

  • Elementary Student Research (replaces Searchasaurus)
  • Middle School Student Research (replaces Kids Search)
  • Public Library Search (new)

In each case, from the Explora home screen, you can view an image carousel of timely topics, updated weekly.  The carousel images are attractive and will lead to further exploration of the topics included.

explora screen shot
Explora interface

Below the image carousel are categories to browse for research ideas. Click a link to one of the featured topics OR click on the More link to view an alphabetical list of all topics in that category. Want to know more about the Big Bang Theory (the concept, not the TV show)? Or perhaps you were the biggest loser, as I (Karen) was, in March Madness. You can brush up on the finer points of Fantasy sports leagues and mathematics.

Basic and advanced searches can also be performed. For the basic search, just enter your search term(s) in the search box on the home screen. The autocomplete feature will anticipate your search terms, so even if you misspell a term, relevant results will appear in the drop-down menu.

The advanced search link is in a familiar location, just below the basic search box. Unfortunately, the advanced search page has not been updated to the same degree as the main interface and will still prove to be overwhelming to some, perhaps especially younger researchers.

Advanced search in Explora interface.
Advanced search in Explora interface.

All-in-all, though, the Explora interfaces are an improvement to the dated and stale Ebsco interfaces we’ve been using.  They should appeal to patrons.  Look for them to be added to the countywide database page soon.

Karen S. (Northland) & Sarah B. (CLP)

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Reading Made Easier

Last week OverDrive released the most recent version of the OverDrive app with a number of enhancements. One of these enhancements is the option to select a dyslexic font for reading eBooks. Standard typefaces are often difficult to read for people with dyslexia as the letters are hard to differentiate and words tend to jumble together. Dyslexic fonts provide greater contrast in letters which helps to solve this problem.  Read more about what makes the dyslexic font different here.

This new font option will make reading easier for library patrons who struggle with the condition. Determining letters is now easier, allowing readers to concentrate on the book’s content instead.

Dyslexic Font Sample

To select the dyslexic font, tap the center of the device’s screen when reading a title and choose the font options button. Then simply select the preferred dyslexic font. As always, users can also adjust the spacing, font size and screen color to make their reading experience more enjoyable.

OverDrive states that this update is one of many enhancements planned for the app – with more coming later in the year – that will continue to help users get the most out of their digital reading experience. Stay tuned to the Virtual Lexicon for news on future updates.

Lynne (Sewickley)

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Musical Chairs

The other day someone asked me if it was possible to move songs from the Freegal app onto a computer.  She knew it was possible to access the “recent downloads” feature, which offers the ability to re-download a previously downloaded song up to two more times within 2 weeks from the original download, but she was wondering about songs that had been downloaded directly to the Freegal app more than two weeks ago.

The answer is yes, although it’s a little clunky the first couple of times you try it.  Here’s what to do:

For iOS devices:

  • Plug your iOS device into your computer.
  • Open iTunes.  From “Devices” on the left side, click on your iOS device.
  • Select “Apps”  from the Settings menu in the left panel.
  • Scroll down until you see the File Sharing section in the main panel in iTunes.
  • Select the Freegal app.
  • Your song files will appear in a folder in the Freegal Music Documents box.
  • Either drag the file that contains the downloaded songs to your desktop or highlight the file and click the “Save to” button in the bottom right corner.
  • If you’d like, you can drag and drop the songs into iTunes (or anywhere you like).

For Android devices (I haven’t tested this yet, but a quick internet search turned up the steps above – thanks MCPL!):

  • Plug the device into your computer.
  • Navigate to the music file of the app.
  • Drag and drop songs onto your computer or into iTunes.

If anyone tries the Android process out and gets additional details please share in the comments.

Sarah (CLP)

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