SPRING HILL — The 74-foot, 18-wheel semitrailer truck pulled up carefully in front of the Spring Hill Branch Library, making its only stop in Hernando County. On Wednesday, dozens of visitors stepped inside the digital bookmobile and looked around curiously.
Since 2008, this one-of-a-kind high-tech bookmobile has visited hundreds of towns, providing hands-on demonstrations of just how easy it can be to access thousands of books, including new releases, without leaving the comfort of your La-Z-Boy.
The service, TBLC OverDrive, is free for county residents and is made possible through the Tampa Bay Library Consortium, of which the Hernando County Public Library is a member. The digital media catalogue has more than 4,600 downloadable eBooks and nearly 4,000 audio books.
To participate, residents need a valid library card and an Internet connection via PC, Mac, or other mobile devices.
County resident Cheryl Antalik downloaded Nora Roberts' Vision in White last week. It was her first eBook download.
"It wasn't hard to do," she said. "You just follow the instructions."
Antalik stopped by the bookmobile and spoke with Shannon Neu, Hernando County technical services librarian.
"I wanted to thank Hernando County for providing this service," Antalik said. "It's great.''
Once a user has downloaded the audio or eBook, you don't have to be connected to the Internet to read or listen to it. In addition, for speed listeners, there is an adjustable playback speed.
Audio books are compatible with a variety of platforms, including PC, Mac, iPod, iPhone, and Android; eBooks are compatible with PC, Mac, Sony Reader, Nooks, and other devices.
"It doesn't work with Kindles," explained Neu. Kindles are proprietary and only work for Amazon products, she added.
The digital library has many popular titles and all genres, including suspense, romance, self-help, fiction, and business.
And unlike a traditional library with walls, access to the TBLC Overdrive is 24/7.
The number of residents utilizing electronic services has grown consistently and library officials expect that number to continue to grow.
John H. Smith uses a Nook for reading his favorite titles. He was one of 118 people who came to the bookmobile to learn how to access the library's digital database.
First genre on his list for downloading?
And in three easy steps — browse, check out, and download — Smith can have the latest book by Michael Connelly or David Baldacci.
"The library offers new releases on eBook, just like in the stores," said Antalik. "It's nice and convenient."
Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.