Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Guide to Digital Media Apps at Your Public Library: Part Three - Cloud Library

This is part three of my four-part guide to digital media apps available through public libraries. For an explanation of this series and an index to all four parts that will be published this week, read A Guide to Digital Media Apps at Your Public Library: Introduction. This guide will also be available as a .PDF booklet after the entire series has been published to this blog.

In This Post:

What is Cloud Library?

Cloud Library is bibliotheca's digital content lending platform. It was previously owned by the 3M company.

What is Available on Cloud Library?

Cloud Library can provide public libraries with access to e-books and/or audiobooks. The materials provided are selected by the staff at each individual library. Individual libraries decide whether to provide e-books, audiobooks, or both.

How to Access Cloud Library

Cloud Library can be accessed on the web at or through the Cloud Library mobile app. The app is currently available for Mac, Android, and Apple iOS, PC and Nook tablets, Nook, Kobo, and Kindle Fire. It is not compatible with the Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle app. Accessibility features are available only for iOS.

To use Cloud Library, you will need to log in using your library card number on either the website or the app. Some libraries may also require a PIN or password.  If you are using the app on a PC, you will also be asked for an Adobe ID. If you have an Adobe ID that you have previously used, you can enter it and have your Cloud Library account associated with it. If not, Cloud Library will randomly generate an Adobe ID for you.

If you use Cloud Library on the web, you can only log into one library account at a time. In the app, however, it is possible to input multiple card numbers from multiple libraries. To add additional cards to your account, click “Account,” then select “View Cards.” In the upper right-hand corner, there will be an option to “Add New.” You will still need to toggle back and forth between libraries in order to see the available items at each one, but you will not need to type in your library card number every single time.

Searching and Browsing on Cloud Library

Searching Cloud Library is a straightforward process. Type in a title, author, or keyword and search results will be displayed. You can also apply filters to your search: format, availability, and/or language. There is an advanced search function that allows you to limit by publication date, category, and subject. You can also perform an advanced search for a specific creator, series, or ISBN.

Browsing is possible on Cloud Library, but difficult to accomplish efficiently. When you first log in on either the app or the website, you will be shown featured categories of books selected by your library. To see more categories on the web, you need to click browse; on the app, click “All” to see the same thing: a long list of categories delineated by audience (adult, teen, or kids) and genre. From there, you can click further to view the available titles and/or the subgenres of that category.

In both the app and on the web, it can be very tedious to scroll through the available books, especially since the you need to scroll both up and down and sideways, and the scrolling tends to move very slowly. This is alleviated slightly by the “Favorites” feature. By clicking a star next to a preferred category, you can add it to your favorites list. Then by selecting the “Favorites” tab, you can view only the categories that interest you. Unfortunately, the more categories you select, the more difficult it seems to be to navigate the “Favorites” page. Therefore, the quickest way to find materials in Cloud Library is by searching rather than browsing.

Borrowing Items from Cloud Library

Borrowing books through Cloud Library is a simple process. If the item is not currently checked out, a green “borrow” button will display next to the book cover. Click this button to check out the book to your library card. Each copy of an item can only be checked out by one patron at a time, so there is also an option to place a hold. Cloud Library will send you an email when the book is available for you.

The Cloud Library Reading Experience

You can read e-books and listen to audiobooks either on Cloud Library’s website, or within the app, but these items cannot be transferred to other devices. When you open an item in the Cloud Library app, it downloads to your device automatically, so that you can access it offline. (Audiobooks will only play offline if the entire book is downloaded.) There is a setting to prevent items from downloading over a data connection when wi-fi is not available.

Within e-books, you are able to change the text size, background lighting, layout, and font. There is also a table of contents in each book so that you can move easily between chapters, and a “go to” function that allows you to move directly to a specific page within the book. Within the e-book, you can also see the number of the current page as well as how many pages remain in the current chapter. Click the bookmark icon on any page to mark a place you wish to remember. In the app, there are additional settings, allowing you to choose whether volume buttons can be used to turn the pages, whether to prevent the display from rotating when the screen does, and whether to allow page animation. In the app, you can also search the text of the e-book.

A word of warning: the reading experience of e-books in Cloud Library can sometimes be frustrating. In general, Cloud Library doesn’t handle graphics as well as other e-readers. This can make it difficult to enjoy graphic novels and picture books, as the images can sometimes take a long time to load. Occasionally, both image-heavy and text-only e-books will not open at all on the web, or will show a series of blank pages where words and/or pictures ought to be. It is also the case that sometimes changes made to e-book settings in the app do not “take” the first time.

Audiobooks are designated within Cloud Library with a blue headphones icon, which appears in the lower right-hand corner of the cover image of each audiobook. Within each audiobook, you can access a table of contents which shows each chapter and its duration. Using different arrows, it is possible to move back and forth between the book, either a few seconds at a time, or chapters at a time if necessary. You can also add bookmarks and notes within the audiobook, which will sync across all the devices you use to access Cloud Library. As with other apps, it is possible to change the narration speed in iOS and devices using Android 6.0 or higher (but not on the web, and not on any device not running iOS or Android.) There is also a basic sleep timer.

More Help with Cloud Library

For further assistance with Cloud Library, visit these links:

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