What’s New in Our Virtual Branch

Our Virtual Branch is your 24/7 online destination for eBooks, magazines, audiobooks, music, comics, movies, and television.  Our four main content providers - eLibraryNJ, Freegal, Flipster, and hoopla – are constantly making changes and adding new titles.  Below is a run-down of the latest improvements to make our virtual branch easier to use and enjoy.

eLibraryNJ continues to add new releases to the eBook and audiobook collection each month and MCLS now offers extra copies of the most popular titles through our Advantage subscription.  Patrons who use the service will have access to our copies first, which will allow you to move up the holds list faster or avoid having to wait at all.  Make sure you log on before browsing to see the extra copies and titles.  Using the service is also easier now that almost all titles are available in the OverDrive Read or OverDrive Listen format, which can be used in any browser without additional software or apps.  If you prefer an app, the new Libby app that replaces the old OverDrive app is simpler since it eliminates the requirements to use a dual login and register the device with Adobe.  eBook readers who need accessibility features can find expanded options in the OverDrive Read format, with the ability to change font size and style built in to each title.  Users can opt to use a high contrast background or the Open Dyslexic font to make it easier to read with certain eye or learning disabilities.

Freegal offers three free song downloads per week and up to three hours of streaming per day.  The company recently launched a new website and replaced their old apps for iOS and Android.  Both changes are designed to take advantage of newer technology to offer a more user-friendly experience that includes a cleaner look to make it easier to browse and listen.  Existing users will need to update their apps, but once they do, they will have access to an expanded catalog that will be added to daily.  There are also new curated playlists to help you discover new artists and explore different genres. 

Flipster has made some minor changes and we have altered our magazine title selection slightly to reflect requests made by our patrons.  We recently added Money and Consumer Reports on Health.  These join 18 other titles that are available in full-color through either the Flipster website or app.  The back issues of all titles now stretch back to 2014, with almost all titles now offering the option to print pages.

hoopla continues to evolve, adding support for Alexa devices, Fire TV, and Chromecast Ultra.  Users can add the Alexa skill in a few weeks and stream audio content through Echo, Dot, Spot, and Show.  Video can be streamed now with Amazon Fire TV 3rd Generation and Chromecast, as well as Apple TV.  Users of legacy devices should be aware the company is also phasing out support for Internet Explorer and iOS9 (iPad mini and iPhone 4S).  While the iOS9 devices will still work for now, IE users should plan to move to Chrome or Firefox to continue using the hoopla service.

- Laura N., Information Technology

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