Take a Trip on Us!

Are you thinking about taking a trip? It’s not only fun to explore new places, discover unique foods, and experience a different culture, it’s actually enriching for all your senses. Travel is an exciting way to create lasting memories. Need some inspiration? Not sure where to go? We have plenty of books like 1000 Places to See Before You Die, Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2014, and The Backpacker’s Bible. Aside from traditional travel books like Frommer’s and Lonely Planet, we have many other helpful sources.

Don’t speak the language? You can check out an audiobook on a wide variety of languages or use Mango, our online language program. It’s free and there’s even an app for your smart phone. Whether listening to the audiobook or practicing with Mango, you can learn the conversational basics to make travel easier.

Have a long car ride or flight? Check out audiobooks on CD, Playaways (pop in a battery and headphones to hear a pre-loaded book) or use Kentucky Libraries Unbound to download e-books to your tablet or smart phone. You can even download movies or stream them with Wi-Fi. Like magazines? Use our Zinio subscription to read magazines on your device, including National Geographic Traveler to check out new and interesting places to go.

Need help choosing a place or finding lodging? There are tons of travel websites:

  • Trip Advisor and Yelp let you check out ratings for places to eat, stay, or visit. Reviewers add their two cents to help you make better decisions. Should you stop and see the largest ball of string? Is the food really good at that expensive restaurant? Was the bed and breakfast clean? Find out before you go. You can add your thoughts about places you visit.
  • Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Booking.com, and Travelocity are all websites that can help plan your trip if you’re looking for airfare, hotels, and rental cars. They offer package vacations and even travel insurance, in case you need to cancel. It’s nice to check prices on these sites, and then check the individual airline, hotel, or rental car company to see if they are offering a better deal.
  • Flights with Friends is terrific for making travel plans with a group. You can add flights from different locations and let others have their say on the flight and lodging choices that appear for your destination.
  • VRBO, Airbnb, and HomeAway offer nice options for those who would rather stay in a house, condo or apartment instead of a hotel or resort. They have properties all over the world and can be anything from minimal to extravagant. Choose the time you wish to travel and add filters to specify pet friendly, number of guests or bedrooms, swimming pool, or handicap accessible. Guests who stay can add reviews, so you know right away if there are issues with a property, like odor or a poorly stocked kitchen.
  • Google Maps and MapQuest will help you find your way from here to there, even locally. You can add additional stops, choose the shortest or fastest routes, avoid toll roads, include gas stations or restaurants or even find biking paths, walking distances or bus routes.

Is there an app for that? Most websites have them! Here are some cool apps you might explore on your smart phone or device’s app store:

  • CheckMate takes your preferences to help find you a room in hotel, like one that’s away from the elevator or close to the pool, let them know when you’ll arrive, and some hotels let you check-in without having to stand at the counter.
  • Flashlight is a handy app that is free and can light your way!
  • WhatsApp Messenger lets you text or chat and avoid international charges. If Wi-Fi is available, you can send photos, too.
  • City Guides is a way to create your own guide for a city that includes places to visit or eat and then tracks where you are at any moment in relation to those places. Friends can add their favorite places or use a guide someone else has created.
  • XE Currency lets you know the current exchange rate for money around the world.

Traveling locally? We have a great way to break up a humdrum weekend – take a day trip using one of our Road Trip kits. Stop by and pick up a bag for the city of your choice! Each bag is filled with brochures, maps, guide books, a family DVD for the kids to watch, and games to entertain the whole family. We have kits for Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and more.

While on the road, most libraries will let you have free Internet access. Look at our parking lots on any given day and you’ll see out-of-state license plates. Plenty of people stop by to check email, print maps, and update reservations from our locations. Whether locally or abroad…we can help you have the vacation of your dreams.

–Jinny

Jinny Ussel is the Training and Design Specialist for Boone County Public Library. She loves to travel and in her next life, she’d like to be Samantha Brown.

What’s the deal with ebooks?

Why doesn’t the library own more ebooks?  Why is a favorite author missing from the collection?  Why won’t a particular ebook work on a particular device?  The answer to all of these questions lies in the complicated relationship between libraries and publishers.

Publishers and libraries share the common goal of putting books in your hands, but for different reasons.  Libraries are based on the idea that free access to information is vital for an educated, democratic society.  (This is something most librarians are very passionate about.)  Publishers want to make money, and as much of it as possible.  Publishing is a business, and the people in the publishing industry deserve to be paid for the work they do.  The problem is when our different missions bring us into conflict with each other.

There is a longstanding assumption in the publishing world that libraries lending free books, and especially ebooks, cuts into the profit margins of the publishers.  While this sounds reasonable, a number of studies have shown that library lending actually increases sales.  In a survey last year, 85% of ebook borrowers said they used their library to discover new writers or try out new genres.  69% went on to purchase other titles by those same authors, while 36% purchased a copy of the same ebook title they had borrowed.

Unfortunately, the idea that libraries are stealing sales persists.  The publishing industry is dominated by five major companies, or as they are known in the library world, the Big Five.  These are Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin-Random House and Simon & Schuster.  Simon & Schuster is still experimenting with selling ebooks to libraries, and only a dozen titles are available for purchase.  Of the rest, only Random House division of Penguin-Random House will sell ebooks to libraries without circulation or purchasing restrictions.  Many libraries avoid buying ebooks from the other major companies because of the restrictions those companies have imposed.

What are these restrictions?  To begin with, Hachette and Macmillan do not allow consortial purchasing.  This means that copies cannot be purchased for the collection most Kentucky public libraries share through Kentucky Libraries Unbound.  BCPL had to setup a separate collection in Unbound to purchase these titles.  They can only be seen after logging in with a BCPL library card; otherwise, they are invisible.

Then there are the circulation restrictions.  When a library purchases a title from HarperCollins, it can only be checked out 26 times.  After that, the library has to buy a new copy.  Titles from Simon & Schuster and the Penguin division of Penguin-Random House expire after 12 months and must be repurchased.  In an example of the worst of both worlds, Macmillan titles can only circulate 52 times or 24 months, whichever comes first.

That just leaves the Random House division, which is continuing their policies from before their merger with Penguin.  Feeling that they needed to do something to make up for the sales they believe they’re losing, Random House increased the price of ebooks sold to libraries by an average of 300%.  (A few titles went up as much as 700%.)  This means that Jonathan Kellerman’s Killer, which sells to individuals through Amazon for $10.99, costs libraries $84 per copy.  In an era of dwindling budgets, we can only afford so many copies.

There is also the issue of “copies” in the first place.  Restricting ebooks to one person at a time is a model the publishers have imposed.  They have experimented with allowing libraries to pay an annual subscription rate for a collection of ebooks with unlimited checkouts, but that model hasn’t taken off.  Finally, there is the issue of DRM.  Digital rights management, or DRM, refers to the anti-piracy measures publishers use to prevent ebooks from being copied.  The pirates quickly find ways around it, of course, while legitimate users struggle with ebooks that work on this device, but not that one, or that only work with certain software and authorizations.  At best, for most of us DRM is an annoyance, but at worst it can prevent people from getting the books they want to read.

In short, there is constant tension between the libraries’ desire to use ebook technology to expand free access to books, and the publisher’s desire to limit ebook technology for libraries, in an attempt to protect profits.  Until some sort of accommodation can be reached, these desires will continue to collide, resulting in frustration for the readers.

–Jennifer

Jennifer Gregory has been a librarian for fifteen years. She passed through jobs in archives, cataloging, reference, preservation and administration at various public and academic libraries, before becoming the Digital Services Librarian at BCPL, where she manages digital media collections for both Boone County and the state of Kentucky.