An Incredibly Useful Tool. And It’s FREE!

I’ve written before about e-books, e-readers, and the like. Now I’d like to introduce you to a recent discovery I made regarding my local public library and its collection.

Libby is a simple app I discovered whilst browsing through the Apple App Store. I was so intrigued that I downloaded it to my iPhone…

…and then had to go to the library to get a new library card, since my old one had expired a couple of years ago. My friend Stacey took me, since (1) I don’t have a car and (2) our public transit system is not the best in the world. Had I gone by bus, it would have involved one transfer and a long wait, only to be repeated to get home again.

Altogether, a minimum of 4 hours transportation time. And that didn’t include the time I’d spend perusing the stacks.

Once I had the new card, I was done. Stacey spent some time browsing and checking out a few videos, after which I treated her to lunch.

Then it was back home,  and time to configure Libby.

It Was So Simple!

Libby first asked me for my library card number. Once it was confirmed, it then asked me a few questions about my reading preferences: did I prefer to read books in the Libby app? On my Kindle or Nook? How about on my laptop with the desktop Libby program?

Then it was off to the library…without leaving the house!

While policies may vary from library to library, the Monroe County (New York) Public Library system allows me to check out and download 8 books for 21 days each. There are also magazines, as well as audio books.

When I’m done with the current book, I just open the menu and select “Return To Library.” POOF! It’s gone from my device.

Now For The Best Part

I’ve installed Libby on my iPhone, my iPad, my Kindle, my Nook, and my Windows laptop. If I begin reading a book on the iPhone and then move over to one of the other devices, Libby asks me if I want to start anew or to sync to where I’ve read on the iPhone. From then on, Libby will always open to the furthest point I’ve read.

Okay, I stand corrected: that’s the second best thing about Libby. The best thing is it’s free!

So Why Am I Writing About Libby?

Because I’m not the only old fart senior citizen who has trouble getting around. And I thought Libby is a great idea that needs to be shared by anyone who reads.

Now go read a book!

George Harrison Had it Right

As a child of the ’60s, much of the soundtrack to my teenage years was provided by the Beatles. I wasn’t quite as fanatical as, say, Douglas Adams (who wrote A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) also famously said,

I remember my school days. They were what was going on in the background while I was trying to listen to the Beatles.

Still, I was so into the Fab Four that even now, some 55 years later, I still remember the lyrics to most of their songs.

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you.

That was one of George’s contributions, Think For Yourself.

Which brings me to today’s post.

You’re Smarter Than You Think You Are

Trust me on this. Know how I know? Because you in your great wisdom close to read my blog instead of Netflix and Chill. Instead of Facebook.Just kidding. I do both of those things when they’re appropriate.

But here’s the thing: as I was conducting my morning ritual of brewing the perfect cup of tea, it dawned on me that before Google, most of my knowledge came from my own investigation and experience.

library catalog

Remember this? This was my generation’s Google. The library card catalog was where we started our search for information. It was a system which itself took practice before we could consider ourselves its masters.

This system still exists, although in many libraries it’s been computerized. It’s quicker to find what you’re looking for, although I would argue that mastering it on the computer requires its own set of special skills.

Google and World Domination

Now consider Google. You can think of it as a huge library card catalog containing the contents not only of your library, but every library in the entire world. In a sense, it is the 21st century’s Alexandria Library: a repository of all the knowledge in the world.

And therein lies the problem. Imagine going to your local library and asking the librarian for a book about the silk industry. She (or he: after all, we must be politically correct) returns with a cart overflowing with books about the history of the industry, ancient Chinese and Japanese history, the silkworm, the care and feeding of silkworms…you get the picture.

Information overload. A concept more common in the Age of Google than any other time in world history. I can’t give you an exact dictionary definition, but to me, it means too much information than I can possibly absorb.

And that’s the problem. It’s like asking for a glass of water and getting the Pacific Ocean.

If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?—Anonymous creationist

If we have Google, why are there still stupid people?—Me

So What’s The Point?

Think for yourself, ‘cause I won’t be there with you.

Although your mind’s opaque,
Try thinking more if just for your own sake.
The future still looks good,
And you’ve got time to rectify all the things that you should.