Fill Your Digital Backpack to the Brim: On Demand Media from Cambridge Public Library

By: Melanie Nash

Was your 2017-2018 $450 spent by March 10th of this year? Does the dizzying array of digital resources out there make your head spin? You’re not alone. Read on to find out how to fill your digital backpack to the brim with expertly curated content, almostly effortlessly, and...for free.

Cambridge residents and some lucky residents-of-Massachusetts teachers already know that just by walking over to a Cambridge Public Library branch and getting yourself a Cambridge-issued library card, you’ll have access to some of CPL’s latest streaming media acquisitions (and a vast number of research and reader’s advisory tools as well)! All the digital media resources described below are accessible from phones, tablets and computers.

New to the library in April, 2017 were Hoopla and Flipster. Hoopla consists of on demand music, movies, audiobooks, eBooks, comics, and television. Flipster offers full text, easy access to some of the library’s most popular magazines, including Scientific American, Wired, The New Yorker, Ebony, Sports Illustrated and The Atlantic.

Relatively new to the library is Indieflix. IndieFlix offers more than 3500 first run films, including those currently at film festivals, past award winners and many films that will never be released on DVD. The catalog contains 7,000 high-quality shorts, features, documentaries, classic TV shows and Web series from 85 countries. Titles can be sorted by language, genre, or film length.

A library staple, Overdrive is a digital media collection of popular audiobooks and eBooks. Recent changes to Overdrive have made it even more user friendly. Titles now have user-friendly availability banners, as well as action links that allow patrons to borrow or place holds right away. Users still have the option to do quick, advanced, title and author searches but there are now subject links and a collections menu.
The new OverDrive also shows you everything in your library's digital collection, with clear messaging about titles that aren't compatible with your device.

Library CadAll this sounds too good to be true, but it’s as simple as walking over to a library branch with a photo ID that includes a current Massachusetts address or a photo ID along with a piece of mail that includes a current Massachusetts address. Any Massachusetts resident can have a Cambridge Public Library card but residents of MA may only have one Minuteman Library Network card, so you will have to “trade” your home town card for a Cambridge one if you reside in a Minuteman Network town or city. Teachers looking to make this switch should be aware that while they will assume many benefits of a Cambridge card, they could also be giving up local benefits. To be on the safe side, do a bit of research on your home town library’s website before making the switch. Please also be aware that there are some CPL resources that are only accessible in the library or to those with a local Cambridge address.

Like chocolates and great colleagues, you can never have too many library cards. Another card that will give you access to even more public library resources is the Boston Public Library eCard. Any MA resident can sign up for a BPL eCard online and have full access to many of their databases, including Hoopla (an even vaster collection offering more monthly checkouts than CPL!). The Boston Public Library has state funding designated for this service so that they can serve in this capacity for anyone living in Massachusetts.

With summer fast approaching, now’s the time to get yourself set up with some new cards and do some power reading, listening, watching and curriculum transforming!
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