Tag Archives: technology

When I want an audiobook, I get it from the library.

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We’re super happy to share that we have another eAudiobook service for you – RBdigital! So now you can get eAudiobooks from Overdrive, hoopla, and RBdigital with your library card!

Here’s what you need to know about RBdigital:

  • It’s awesome.
  • There are currently close to 350 audiobooks to borrow from it. The entire Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is in that collection! No more Droughtlander as fans wait for Season 3 to start. (Yes, this is a survival tool too.) Plus, there are many other great books by authors like Miriam Toews, Anne Perry, Richard Wagamese, Janette Oke, Ian Rankin, Stuart Woods,  Jojo Moyes, and more.
  • You can borrow 10 items at a time.
  • You can borrow each item for 1-21 days.
  • No holds! The audiobooks available from RBdigital are available all of the time.
  • No late fees! Audiobooks will return automatically when the borrowing period is up.
  • Renewing a book is easy. Some audiobooks can be long (and wonderful), so don’t feel like you need to rush.
  • You can listen to the audiobooks on your mobile device and computer. And it’s easy to get set up. Read on to learn more about how to do that.
  • It’s awesome. Did you see what I did there?


We’ve created some step-by-step documents to get you on your way. If you’re using a mobile device, check out this guide: RBdigital app for mobile devices. If you’ll be listening to the audiobooks on your computer, check this one out: RBdigital on your Computer. And (as always) if you have any questions at all, Ask Us!

So exciting!

Reegan (an audio-bibliophile)


Who is lynda?

Who is Lynda? Lynda Susan Weinman and her husband are the founders of lynda.


What is lynda? lynda (always lowercase) is a popular web site with high-quality video courses on a number of subjects including:

(note that all the links above will require you to sign in with your library card and PIN. If you’d like, you can test drive lynda without needing to login)


Many of these subject areas are information technology based, but not all. You can learn to take better pictures, how to design a logo, or how to find a job. There’s courses that are right for you, whether you are terrified of touching a computer or are already highly skilled in your field.


You might be able to tell, but I love lynda. You might be wondering, though, why I seem so determined to get you to use it. No, I don’t own stock in the company. For some time, the Winnipeg Public Library has been looking for a learning portal for its customers. Then during our Inspiring Ideas campaign, you told us how much you would like ways to improve your skills for interest and career advancement. Well, last month the Winnipeg Public Library made lynda available for all Winnipeg Public Library cardholders!

One of the things I love about lynda is I can watch the courses anywhere. I watch them on the bus to and from work on my phone. I cast them to the TV while I’m rocking our baby to sleep (I think she likes them too). I can watch a small segment of a course at my workstation when I need to quickly learn how to fix a problem I’ve having with a program or web page.

So check it out, there’s probably something there for you!


New language-learning features from Mango!

There have been some exciting new changes made to our Mango Languages service for 2014!

The first is a change to the dashboard interface, moving from their old “antique paper” look & feel to a new, sleeker dashboard called “Mango Connect.” When you launch Mango, you will now see a message asking if you want to use the new dashboard or stick with the old one. The old interface will remain accessible until June of this year, but after that the Mango Connect interface will become the default.   


New Languages: Mango announced the addition of 14 new language courses to their complete subscription: Armenian, Azerbaijani, Hungarian, Kazakh, Serbian, Yiddish, Bengali, Malay, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telugu, Scottish Gaelic, ESL Arabic MSA and ESL Armenian. These courses are also available in the Mango Languages for Libraries app for iPad/iPhone once users upgrade to version 1.3.0, released January 28, 2014. The new languages do not seem to be listed in the Mango app for Android, but may become available in a future app update. 


Introducing Mango Premiere – Language Learning Through Films: One of the new features introduced with the Mango Connect dashboard is the new Mango Premiere service . This service is integrated with our existing Mango product and can currently be accessed through our Search a Database page.

Mango Premiere takes films in several languages and builds a language-learning system around the dialog of those films. You can either watch the film straight through with two sets of colour-coded subtitles on the screen, or use the intensive “engage-mode” to break the film down into scenes and delve into the sentence structure, grammar, culture of those scenes and more.

For more details, there’s a brief tutorial/trailer explaining the service:

Try Mango Premiere without creating a Mango account: For a limited time, Mango is making Kung Fu Dunk, one of its Mango Premiere titles, available immediately without an account for trial purposes. Go to  http://trymp.mangolanguages.com/ to take a test run of this service.

If you’d like to try a movie in another language, log in to Mango from the Search a Database page, create an account if you haven’t made one before (you can also log in as a guest if you’re short of time)  and click on the Learn tab and look for the “Apps” link in the middle of the page. The Mango Premiere courses appear at the bottom of the “Apps” screen. We currently have ten Mango Premiere courses available covering five languages – Spanish (Latin America), Italian, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese and English for Spanish speakers. There are more films/languages listed on the Mango Premiere promotional site, but licensing restrictions in Canada mean that we currently only have access to a limited set.

మీరు ఆనందించండి ఆశిస్తున్నాము!
(That’s “we hope you enjoy”) in Telugu. :)


What Goes Around Comes Around

futureThere has been much angst as to whether we are living in a golden age of human prosperity or whether are we living in an age of decline or possible regression.  In the 1980’s, at a time when I was studying political science and history, there were catchy subfields attempting to explain and understand social trends and movements.  Does anyone remember, or has anyone heard of cybernetics or futurology?  The latter is best represented by the author Alvin Toffler who wrote Future Shock and The Third Wave.

digitalA dominant view (if  not THE dominant view) of history and social progress is that every generation is inexorably marching forward in time with the intention of making the world a better place. This can be found in titles such as Ray Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed and The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Eric Schmidt’s  The New Digital Age, and Steven Pinker’s, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Alternatively there are more critical or skeptical views that include a wide range of thinkers such as Niall Ferguson’s, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday: What We Can Learn From Traditional Societies, and Jane Jacob’s last book Dark Age Ahead.

This interpretation, which often conceals a particular western bias, is that through technology and innovation human society is continually improving.  An alternate point of view suggests human societies and even human progress can be cyclical, considering there could be periods of stagnation or even regression. Of interest, is that the debate transcends the typical left/right divide; what really separates the parties is not the usual battles of the ‘culture wars’ between the modernist’s and the traditionalist’s, but more a moral debate of what is lost or sacrificed in our head long rush to the future. It is hard to imagine many situations where Jane Jacobs and Niall Ferguson would agree on anything or even speak the same language, but I think their core principles are aligned on this topic.

What do the critics of the techno-evolution brand find to argue with?  I think  it is the idea we have forgotten or even willfully ignored our historical past and traditions, best described by what Jacob’s calls “cultural amnesia”.  It doesn’t matter if the perspective is more from the liberal/left tradition where the expansion of ‘human rights’ is our most important contribution, or if the belief is from the conservative/right where property rights and the rule of law is our most important legacy.  Both have emerged from our historical traditions, and it is my contention they must be remembered and respected, regardless of our own personal views, both collective and individual, of these rights.  These principles had to be fought for in order to be won, and they could just as easily be lost if we choose to forget.

There is a definite role for libraries to be a protector of  this grand tradition, the antidote to the threat of the cultural amnesia that Jacobs was referring to. In my opinion this is best exemplified in laws two and three of Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science .  Specifically, “every person his or her book” and “every book it’s reader”. Just as in international relations, where civilization is struggling with the difficult task to fulfill the ‘responsibility to protect’, innocent people get caught in conflict not of their choosing. We who care about the cultural realm have a “responsibility to remember”.

Here are some more suggested reads:

pendulumRoy H. Williams, Pendulum: how Past Generations Shape our Present and Predict our Future
upsideThomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization’

Phil D.

OverDrive for Windows 8, eBooks Video Tutorials and eBooks for Little Ones

If you are planning to buy a new computer soon, chances are it is going to come with Windows 8. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s newest version of their operating system for desktop, laptop, and tablet computers. In some ways it’s a significant departure from the Windows of the past, mainly in the touch-centric Modern User Interface (formerly codenamed Metro). Apps (basically, software) that are designed for this new user interface are made available through the Windows Store.

OverDrive Media Console for Windows 8So why am I writing about the latest operating systems on a library blog?  Well, available in the Windows Store is the new Overdrive Media Console for Windows 8.

Overdrive Media Console (just Overdrive from now on) is the main interface to the Winnipeg Public Library’s downloadable eBooks on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Like Windows 8 itself, Overdrive for Windows 8 is a departure from the interface we’re familiar with for the Apple iOS and Google Android versions of the app.

windows8Because it’s such a departure, we’ve created a new Windows 8 version of our instructions for using Overdrive with the Winnipeg Public Library. Readers can find it (as well as our step-by-step guides for iOSAndroid and Blackberry) on the Downloadable eBooks page of our eBooks and Audiobooks guide.

OverDrive for Android

OverDrive for Android

OverDrive for Blackberry

OverDrive for Blackberry

OverDrive for iPad

OverDrive App for iPad

As I wrote above, Overdrive is the main interface for our eBooks on phones, tablets, and now computers; but how do readers with dedicated eReaders like the Kobo or Sony products borrow our eBooks? Sony PRS-T1 and PRS-T2 eReaders come pre-loaded with an Overdrive alternative, found on the second page of the home screen and labeled “Public Library.”  We have instructions for the Sony eReaders, as well. Other eReaders need to use intermediary software called Adobe Digital Editions.

We just published a series of short video tutorials describing the process for these eReaders. The third video in the series will be of use for those using Overdrive as well.

If you’re looking for help with a specific step, here’s the playlist broken down:

Winnipeg Public Library Offers Thousands of Free eBooks:
A general introduction to eBooks
Installing Adobe Digital Editions to Transfer Free eBooks to Your eReader: 
How to install ADE on your computer so that you can transfer them to your eReader device.
Create an Adobe ID:
How to create an Adobe ID so that you can copy eBook files from one of your devices to another
Authorizing Adobe Digital Editions to Read Free eBooks from WPL: how to input your Adobe ID so that eBooks can be downloaded and transferred
Find and Download Free eBooks at the Winnipeg Public Library:
Steps to search OverDrive and then checkout & download free eBooks from WPL
Download Free eBooks from WPL to Adobe Digital Editions:
How to get your eBook from OverDrive into your eBook software so that it can be transferred 
Transfer Free eBooks from WPL from Adobe Digital Editions to your eReader:
How to move an eBook from your computer to your eReader device


eBooks for Little Ones

As the father of two little girls in the age of Netflix and hand-me-down mobile devices, sometimes I find it challenging to pull my three-year-old away from Caillou, Madeline, and Kipper. Our TumbleBook Library has been helpful in this.


TumbleBook Library features animated, read-along versions of many children’s books.  My daughter is particular fond of Robert Munsch’s performances of his books. She laughed a lot the first thirty times he read his 50 Below Zero.

Now that she’s worn the ones and zeroes on these eBooks down to their fractions, I’m planning to introduce her to the Disney Digital Books we have available on OverDrive. With her library card, she can check out 10 of these at a time and read them over and over on our computer or laptop.

For more information about these and other kinds of Online eBooks, take a look at our eBooks Guide – you may be surprised at the variety of titles you find there!


‘What’s the Frequency,’ Marshall?

“I never understood the frequency…
I couldn’t understand…”
From the song What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?
By R.E.M. (from the album ‘Monster’)

I’ve always felt that I’d never understand Marshall McLuhan. But looking past what I took to be mere clichés, witticisms, and celebrity-seeking statements of the outlandish, I now find that his message about how people use technology – and how they feel about the technology they use – offers tremendous insight.

One of many essential ideas of McLuhan is that the modern technology we use ‘is the extension of the nervous system in the electronic age’ (from Paul Benedetti & Nancy DeHart, eds, Forward through the rear-view mirror: reflections on and by Marshall McLuhan, p. 147). If I am ‘understanding McLuhan’ properly (which I am never certain) that smart phone or other mobile device is actually connected to our body, it becomes one. This runs counter to many modern critiques (like Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget) of how technology is taking over too many aspects of our personal lives.  For McLuhan the moral compliant is beside the point; it is happening whether we like it or not, the more important issue is to understand it.

For me the fascinating element is that he could only use the examples of his real world of radio, television, and the emerging power of computers, but it was not a great leap of logic for him to anticipate the internet, and probably more powerfully, social media. McLuhan takes the entire information technology explosion as a return to a ‘oral culture’, which challenges and overturns the power of print. As print moved from ideograms to an alphabet and then to formal language, it allowed abstract ideas and norms to be deemed official and correct.

If electronic technology is the modern return to oral culture, it is best expressed  by social media: we update our personal pages, we follow and are followed, and there is no right or wrong but only our individual thoughts, emotions and feelings. It truly is an electronic version of oral culture where the appearance of hierarchy is abolished, or at least buried under the surface. (I’m not going to  take on the issue of manipulative advertising, exposure to propaganda and temptations to hunt for witches and find scapegoats here.)

How this relates to our politics, our relationships with each other, and how we conduct ourselves is an open question…but taking a twist to the R.E.M. song…

“…I think I understand!..”

Thanks for the frequency, Marshall!

For more on this topic, check out:

Gutenberg Galaxy
by Marshall McLuhan
The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan by Douglas Coupland (Extraordinary Canadians series)
The Virtual Self by Nora Young
Too Much Magic by James Howard Kunstler
iDisorder by Larry Rosen

– Phil