Libraries Doing Cool Things with iPods:

Michael's iPodIf that's all there is...Poet in My HeartDeliver Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about what libraries might do with iPods and I’ve actually written about it here before. I’m glad to see Pew report on MP3 at that Karen pointed to. I’ve lamented that some of the big names in recorded e-content don’t recognize the iPod as well. But finally come two synchronous “iPods in Libraries” happenings. First, from Jeff Steely at Baylor comes this short article about what the library there is doing with iPods, emailed a few days ago:

Audio Reserves To Go Program Launched

This spring, the Crouch Fine Arts Library and the Electronic Library launched an exciting new feature called Audio Reserves To Go. For many years, students could listen to their music assignments only in the fine arts library. This past year, the library made these listening assignments available to students online. The entire semester’s listening assignments for all music courses are loaded onto the iPods, and students can easily listen to them with headphones. Students involved in the Audio Reserves To Go pilot program in December said that the ability to check out iPods with the listening assignments on them has totally changed how they go about studying the music. With the iPods, students can listen while walking between classes or at other times when being in the library or logged on to a computer would not be possible. The program currently offers 12 iPods for students to check out. The Audio Reserves To Go program was made possible by funds from the Library Fellows, an organization of dedicated Baylor friends who generously support the libraries. (ShaTowers, Crouch Fine Arts Library, Baylor University)”

How cool is that?

Heres’ a bit more of the techie details from Tim Logan at the library (via Jeff):

This coming semester, we?re using iPods to carry the project further. Every iPod (40GB 4GL models) has ALL of the audio reserves for ALL of the music classes for the entire semester.? Our management system (more on that below) creates Notes files for the iPod, listing the names of audio tracks with clickable links to the appropriate audio track on the iPod.? The Notes files are created and named based on the name of the class; MUS 4330, for example.? That file contains the listing of the listening assignments for that class.? Some class listings are split over multiple files due to the iPod 4k limit on Notes files, but the management system automatically includes a and link at the bottom of each Notes file as needed.? We put the iPods into Notes-only mode, so the student sees just the listing of the classes available on the iPod. Opening the appropriate file takes you to the list of assignments, and clicking on the link for an assignment plays the associated file.

One other note: when ripping CDs new to the system, we use a ripping station running iTunes.? Most of the CDs are properly discovered in CDDB, saving us data entry time.? When the CD is ripped, the new tracks are put into a specific playlist, and then an AppleScript is run to convert the MP3 files in the playlist to hinted MOV files and move them onto the QuickTime Streaming Server.

WOWZA! This sends me…. As does this, which Mr. Aaron Schmidt IMed to me this morning… I fell off my chair:“…news about a public library in South Huntington, Long Island loaning out iPod shuffles loaded with books on tape. This innovative use of new technology brings a smile to our faces. (Source:

Here’s another link:

Well, that prompted me to pick up the phone and call South Huntington Library and chat with Assistant Director Joseph Latini about the program. This is one of the first times I think I’ve done an “interview” for TTW.

Joe and I missed each other a few times, playing phone tag with voicemail. But finally we got a chance to chat. He informed me that the library purchased 6 1GB iPod Shuffles. They circulate in a camera-style case with a car adaptor, a small “how-to” sheet created by the library, a Tunecast FM transmitter, a charger and a mini stereo connector. The Shuffles circulate for 21 days with a $1 a day fine per day overdue. What suprised me most of all was that the library has created an account with the iTunes Music Store and they buy albums and burn them to CD, print the artwork and circulate them! ROCK ON! So now they will purchase audiobooks via iTunes as well for the shuffles. “It’s cheaper anyway.” Joe said.

As to theft, Joe said that the library uses video cameras in all areas but has let go of casing everything in the AV area. The same goes for the Shuffles. If it doesn’t come back, it’s $150 to replace it. I like that idea. Simple. Like iPod.

How did this come about, I asked. “Our director, ” Joe said “is very cutting edge.” Nice.

I also had the pleasure of telling Joe that the news was moving across the blogosphere, finding its way to Dave’s Blog this noontime. “This will be big, ” I said.

If your library is doing similar things with iPods — why don’t you comment here and tell me about it! I am so intrigued by this and wish the South Huntington Library all the best with their iPod project.


With that, here are a few ponderances and implications for iPods in Libraries…

* An art library could circulate iPod Photos with the art collection digitized for all those Art History class folks take. With the included cable, the artworks could be reviewed on practically any television.

* A library could take the iPod Photo uses farther and circulate players with presentations/slide shows on them about the library and its services. Think of the possibilities if the iPod evetually serves out video as well.

* I still think SOMEHOW a library could work out circulating music on iPods to users for pleasure listening or sampling the collection. It might take a boat load of money but couldn’t a library buy a few iPods and get an iTunes Music Store Account and download maybe 100 songs to each (to start with). If one of your library goals is to offer chances to utilize new technologies this is perfect! (But the $$$$ are flashing in front of me) (This was written before Joe informed me his library is buying songs from iTunes.)


*Apple could offer libraries a deal on iTunes music and audiobooks. That would be sweet and good PR for all. (Ok, am I dreaming?)

*Why iPod you ask when other players are cheaper and maybe more friendly with Windows? The iPod has gained almost sacred ground in pop culture. Those white headphones say a lot as you saunter down the street — be it Dallas, Seattle, London or Chicago. It is the must have of the MP3 players. How cool is it then for a library to position itself to introduce/allow access to one of the hippest NOW devices around? (South rock!)

* Could libraries give users a chance to load their own iPod via iTunes in the library computing center? Talk about user-centered! Here’s an iPod Shuffle and a library of 100 songs… fill it up!

* Finally: a rant: Vendors of digital content: if you do not support the iPod – GET OUT OF TOWN! What is up with that when the iPod has some of the highest numbers around? I know. I know. DRM blah Blah blah… somehow this needs to work. Will it be you, vendors, or will it be Apple? Maybe we can all meet in the middle. And AUDIBLE rules in my book.

Please ponder, checkout what SHPL is doing and comment here with thoughts about iPods in libraries.