May 14th, 2013

Transporting the Library in My Carry-On


I’m not trying to rub it in or anything, but I just returned from a faah-bulous Hawaiian vacation. And while I fantasized about being technology-free while there, I realized that my tablet would sure come in handy for entertainment during my 12-hour (translation: forever) flight.

And handy it was. Surprisingly, my complimentary 8 peanut halves didn’t hold my attention longer than the 2.4 seconds it took to consume them, and the in-flight movie came at a rather steep price that I refused on principle. Stubborn, I know. But I learned quickly that you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl, and my tablet connected me to everything I needed to have a pleasant travel experience. Books! Free books! At my beck and call! This concept is almost as mind-blowing as flying over an ocean whilst reading said books.

Thanks to my beloved CCPL, I had access to a great collection of digital ebooks provided by OverDrive. Browsing was a breeze. I love learning new things, so I chose to view all nonfiction titles, refining my results by availability, subject (history), and device compatibility. I “discovered” two promising titles: Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander. I decided that they were perfect for me – just not on my vacation. So I made use of the convenient “Wish List” feature by clicking on the little ribbon that sticks out of the book cover image.

Then I found “the one,” a book that blends cheeky humor, personal experience, and well-researched history: The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. She makes seemingly dull history – in this case, the Puritans of New England in the 1600s – very lively. A great vacation pick.

No beach vacation is complete without a beach read, of course, so I did a search for the first Sookie Stackhouse mystery by Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark. It was checked out, but CCPL often purchases extra copies of popular titles for only Cecil County folks, so after placing a hold, I received it in only a day or two. Talk about great timing!

I completed my mobile library experience with a search for travel and digital photography books. Much to my delight, OverDrive has both Fodor’s and Frommer’s travel guides to Hawaii and several books on photography, including the popular “Dummies” series.  What better way to spend a flight than coming up with fun things to do, see, and photograph when you land?

The library delivered knowledge, entertainment, and instruction, all from the discomfort of my pitifully “reclined” plane seat – for free!

Have a Kindle, iPad, Nook, or other device? Want help using OverDrive, our digital eLibrary? Visit or call your local branch for friendly, helpful instruction.

And tell us, how do you take your favorite reads on vacation?

Photo credit: “Hawaii” by Ricymar Photography

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February 13th, 2013

Have I Read that Before?

It’s the plight of voracious readers everywhere. I love the way my mom puts it: “Now I know why I was so drawn to this book. Turns out I’ve read it before!” Lucky is the reader who realizes this before hitting the 100-page mark. I’ve seen how people keep track of the books they’ve read or plan to read: backs of receipts, napkins, messy notebooks filled with newspaper articles, post-it notes, and illegible writing.

But take heart, my friends! There are a number of free websites that give you the ability to track your reading habits, write reviews, and see the books and reviews of other users (including friends). Most will link up to Facebook or Twitter, too. If you’d rather not be social, mark your profile as private. No one will know how much you loved that book about crime-fighting teen zombies that fall in love under tragic circumstances. I made that plot up, but I think I may be on to something.



GoodReads uses the concept of virtual bookshelves. Many users opt to keep it simple by creating only a “read” and “to-read” shelf, but you can get as sophisticated and creative as you’d like. For instance, create a bookshelf entitled “science-fiction” to see what you’ve read in that category, or create a bookshelf entitled “give-me-those-hours-back-plz” to classify books that made you wish you were illiterate. (Bonus feature: link your account to the library catalog to see if that book you discovered is available!) GoodReads also has Android and iPhone/iPad apps available, making accessing your booklists a breeze when you visit the library.



Like GoodReads, LibraryThing boasts a large community of users and customizable ways of tracking your reading. While the site has a messy interface, their tagging features and Suggester tool is pretty fun to use and makes it easy to find new books.


Arguably the most visual of the three, Shelfari also uses virtual bookshelves. The strength of this site is that you can view a lot of information about a book, including a detailed character list, quotes, themes, symbolism, and more.

Books & Authors


Unlike the services mentioned above, Books & Authors is not a website with built-in social functionality. Instead, B&A is a database you have free access to through your library card. B&A is primarily used to find your next great read. There are tools to find books with a certain subject matter, character, time period, location, and more. Tracking your reading through this database is private by design, and our catalog is linked to it automatically.

How do YOU track your reading?

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