Hands Free Reading

May 29th, 2017

Planning for the weekend ahead, I find myself in the rare situation of having a day with absolutely zero plans. I intend to take full advantage by running errands, weeding my garden, putting the finishing touches on a quilt, and reading an entire book! How will I accomplish this? I’ll tell you my secret: “hands free reading” with audiobooks!

I listen to audiobooks basically anytime my ears are free. They are a great way to pass the time when you’re doing chores, driving, or anytime your hands are occupied, but your mind isn’t. You can get done whatever you need to get done while also reading a book. Talk about multi-tasking!

Audiobooks have all of the same benefits of more traditional reading, no comprehension or quality is lost by listening to the words rather than reading them.  They are especially great for all of us who feel we’re just too busy to read. If you’re listening to an average-length audiobook (about 11 hours) only on your 15 minute drive to and from work each day, you’ll still have your book done in only about 3 weeks.

In addition to traditional CD books available from any branch, CCPL also offers 3 different ways to check out audiobooks digitally: OverDrive, OneClickDigital and Hoopla. Hoopla has the added benefit that there are no holds, so any book that it carries is available for download immediately.

Our website has how-to guides on how to setup an account and access these books, (http://ow.ly/DD9R30c12dE) or you can come to any branch to have a librarian show you in person. It’s easy!

And audiobooks don’t just have to accompany you when you’re doing chores. If you’re gearing up for your next family vacation and looking to keep everyone happy and occupied on that long car drive, consider an audiobook!


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Cardboard: Virtual Reality for Your Phone

May 22nd, 2017

Google CardboardAt Cecil County Public Library, we’ve experimented with virtual reality in our programs, teaching enthusiastic teens about this up-and-coming technology. These days, virtual reality is accessible for everyone and we’ll help you learn how.

The Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Headset is inexpensive (about $20) and comes in a variety of styles. To find the best “cardboard” device that will fit your phone (whether Android or iOS), try the following site: https://vr.google.com/cardboard/get-cardboard/

Once you’ve picked a Cardboard Headset, it’s time to get some great apps from the Google Play or iTunes Store. The following is a list of our staff’s top recommendations for free VR apps. (Please note that older phones may have trouble using some of these apps.)

Cardboard: This app is your stepping-stone into virtual reality. Google takes you through the basics of navigating inside a Virtual Reality space with your new Cardboard Headset. Once you’ve tackled the basics, try a virtual tour of the Palace of Versailles. (Google Play link) (iTunes link)

Google Arts & Culture: Download this app to go on virtual tours of many of the world’s museums and galleries. Select from over 100 exhibits such as George Washington’s Mt. Vernon home or the wonders of Machu Picchu. (Google Play link) (iTunes link)

New York Times VR: One minute you can be up close and personal with American Bison, the next you can visit Mecca or go on a deep sea dive. Also impressive are some book tie-in presentations such as “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders, which may inspire you to check out the book. (Google Play link) (iTunes link)

Discovery VR: Chock-full of science, this great app by the Discovery Channel takes you back to that childhood feeling when you visited the aquarium. (Google Play link) (iTunes link)

Within: Heavily influenced by TV and the movies, this app brings higher-end cinematic experiences to your phone. (Google Play link) (iTunes link)

Once you’ve explored the universe through virtual reality, you may be inspired to keep learning. We embrace your curiosity and our materials and resources can connect you to just about any topic – from outer space, to national parks; international cuisine to backyard gardening. Our materials connect with interests for all ages as well. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for or have questions, our professional librarians are here to assist.

If you want to learn more about creating virtual reality, visit our on-demand video learning service, Lynda.com. Discover what to consider when shooting immersive video and photography in “VR Video and Photography with Paul Taggart” or try “3D Content Creation for Virtual Reality” with Craig Barr.

If you have questions about our online learning services or other virtual reality questions, don’t hesitate to talk with our staff at the library, by phone (410) 996-5600 or email ask@ccplnet.org


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