MacInTouch Reader Reports

Mac Marginalization: Libraries

Mar. 15, 2010
Mar. 16, 2010
Mar. 15, 2010


MacInTouch Reader

NetLibrary, which provides audio downloads to public libraries all across the country, does not support Macs.

Most of their files are in WMA format and their software, Media Center, is PC only.

They further state:

iPods cannot play DRM encoded WMA formated eAudiobooks

Macs cannot play DRM encoded WMA formatted eAudiobooks.

This all seems odd, given the mission of the parent company:

"Founded in 1967, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs. More than 60,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories around the world use OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve library materials."

Mar. 16, 2010


Stephen Hart

MacInTouch Reader wrote:

NetLibrary, which provides audio downloads to public libraries all across the country, does not support Macs.

The North Olympic Library system offers NetLibrary, but in addition, offers eBooks through Washington Anytime Library. After some delay, OverDrive, the tech company supplied a Mac downloader.

This is a very kludgy DRM system requiring a special app for downloading, but then leaving the user with an unprotected audiobook. The system treats downloaded books as if they were physical CD sets, with waiting lists for downloading, and a set checkout period.


Fred Moore

For the anonymous reader who complained about NetLibrary's not supporting Macs for audio downloads: As I have posted before here, the fault is NOT with OCLC nor the hosting libraries. Talk to Apple, Microsoft, and the content providers.

- Apple refuses to license its DRM software so you must download audio selections through iTunes.

- Microsoft refuses to update Internet Explorer and its DRM software for current Macs.

- Many original content providers insist on DRM to prevent piracy.

DRM and how to access DRM-protected files is not the libraries' decision. They have to work with what they're given.


Michael Pearce

This problem was bad enough when libraries started offering e-books to Microsoft users only, but now they are also discriminating against the blind and/or otherwise disabled who use Macs. This should not be permitted of a tax-funded organization that is supposed to serve all citizens equally.

It will probably take lawsuits to do it, but libraries must be forced to stop doing business with these MS-only companies, unless they are willing to do the work locally to convert these audiobooks into CD format that can be lent out to Mac users, same as existing audiobooks are now. There are only a few companies servicing libraries and they won't change their ways until they start losing significant business.

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