ebook Tips & Tricks Part II: Reading Settings & More

One of the great parts about reading ebooks is that you can adjust the settings to suit your own preferences and needs. You can adjust the font, text size, and background color so it suits your comfort level. For example, I prefer to read white text on a dark background. I have floaters in my eyes, and they are less noticeable when I read on a dark background.

When you first open a book in Libby, it will have a preset font, background color, and size. If you’re reading on a phone, it can be pretty tiny. If you tap toward the middle of the screen, you’ll see a few different things. On the top left, it will say “Back.” That takes you back to your shelf. You can also get there by tapping “Shelf” on the bottom right. Tapping “Library” will take you to the ebook catalog.

On the upper right, you will see a magnifying glass, a bookmark, and a menu.

Reading Settings

The menu has several different options. We’ll start with reading settings. This where you can adjust the text size, background color, and font.

To adjust text size, slide the tab up or down. If you need a bigger text size than the ones offered, tap on “include accessibility sizes” below the slider.

There are three background settings – bright (white), sepia, and dark.

If you scroll down, you will see the options for fonts. You can select a serif or sans serif font depending on your preference. Libby also offers the Open Dyslexic font, which is easier for people with dyslexia to read.

Bookmarks

If you come across a page that you want to go back to later on, you can tap the bookmark, located between the menu and search icons. You can find your bookmarks later on by tapping on menu, and then on bookmarks.

You do not need to use bookmarks to keep your place in your book. Libby will automatically open up where you left off. In fact, if you return a book you are in the middle of reading and check it out again later, it will remember where you were before it was returned!

Highlights and notes

You can also highlight specific passages in a book. If you tap and hold near the beginning or end of the passage, and drag it to the other end, it will highlight the passage. Then you can select whether you would like to define, highlight, or search. You can select the color of the highlight you would like.

When you select “highlight,” you can also add a note. This is useful if you are using the book for discussion such as book club.

Dictionary

If you are reading and come across a word you do not know, there is no need to get out a dictionary! You have one right at your fingertips. Just tap and hold the word you would like to define, then choose “define.”

Search

Libby also has a handy search function. Just tap on the magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen, and then type in what you would like to find. It will bring up all of the places you will find the word or words you are searching for throughout the text.

You may not need or want to use all of these functions, but it is nice to know that they are available and how to use them.

As always, if you have any questions, email me at vquist@plumcreeklibrary.net

Happy reading!

~Val

ebook Tips and Tricks: Getting Started on Libby

There are so many advantages to ebooks. I have grown to prefer them to print books in recent years due to their ease of use, adaptability, and convenience. I understand, however, that it can be daunting to try ebooks.

Over the next couple of blogs, I’d like to dedicate time to the ebook app Libby. Today I’ll focus on a general how-to for getting started with Libby, and tomorrow I’ll start getting into some reading tips.

First of all, you might notice that I sometimes use Libby and OverDrive interchangeably, or refer to both at the same time. That’s because you have access to the same content through both. OverDrive is the classic ebook app, and may be the only option compatible with older devices. Libby is a newer app made by the same company. You can use whichever one you like. I personally prefer Libby and recommend it if your device is compatible. I find that it is easier to set up and navigate.

The first step, of course, is to download the Libby app from your app store. Now you’re ready to begin!

Getting Started

When you first open the Libby app, you will be asked if you have a library card. Select “yes.” (If you don’t have a library card or can’t find your card, email me at vquist@plumcreeklibrary.net and I can set one up for you.)

Next, you will be asked to find your library. Enter your zip code and you will see Tracy Public Library (or your nearest library) come up under “Plum Creek Library System.” You can also search by library name. Select that and go to the next screen.

Next, you will be prompted to add your library card number. Enter your card number first. Then, you will be asked to enter your PIN. Your PIN is the last four digits of your library card number. On the next screen, you will see your card. You can rename your card at this point. This is a good idea if you have multiple family cards entered into the same app. I usually have two cards attached to my Libby account, so I name them after the family member who is associated with the card. Tap “next,” and you are ready to look for books.

Library

That’s it! You are ready to get reading.

On the bottom left of your screen, you will see “Library.” Click on that to browse our catalog. There is a lot to explore here, including curated collections, new materials, and more. If you see headphones on a title, that means it’s an audiobook. Once you find a book you want to check out, tap “Borrow.” If it’s already checked out by someone else, it will say “Place Hold” instead. More on that later.

When you check something out, you will be asked how long you want to check it out for – 7 or 14 days. Choose whichever suits your reading pace.

Shelf

On the Shelf, you can see everything you have checked out. If you have multiple cards entered into Libby, you will be able to see what is checked out on all of them.

The default setting is to download all titles automatically. If you don’t want them to automatically download, you can change the download rules. Tap on “Actions” and then “Change Download Rules.”

Books automatically return and disappear from the shelf once the checkout expires. If you finish the book before the expiration date, you can return it early. Tap on “Manage Loan,” then “Return Early.” You do not have to return a book early if you are finished with it and there are other people waiting, but I generally do as a courtesy.

Some titles may be available for renewal. Just like when you check a book out in person at the library, an ebook can be renewed if no one has it on hold. When you get close to book’s expiration, you will be asked if you would like to renew it if the option is available.

When you tap on a book to read it, you can select whether you would like to read it on Libby or Kindle. Books checked out on Libby can be downloaded and synced on multiple devices.

Holds

You can place holds on ebooks, just like you place holds on physical materials. When you come across a title that is already checked out, you’ll see “Place Hold” instead of “Borrow.”

On the right, there is a small calendar. If you tap on that, you can see how long the approximate wait time will be.

If you tap on “Place Hold,” you will be taken to another screen. Here, you can change which card you would like to place the hold under if you have multiple cards. Otherwise, select “Place Hold.”

If you don’t want the hold right away, you can suspend the hold until the desired date. A new feature has been added that allows you to delay checking out your hold after it becomes available to you. You can select the amount of time you would like to delay delivery of the hold. By doing this, it lets the next person in line have the book, but you will stay at the top of the queue. When the book becomes available after your selected date, you’ll be the first to get it.

To see which books you have on hold, tap on “Holds” when you are in the Shelf.

Tags

Libby has a feature that allows you to “tag” books. There are three standard tags: one that looks like a stack of books, a thumbs-up, and a thumbs-down.

I think of the stack of books like that stack we all have by our favorite chair or on our bedside table. I use it as a “to-be-read” list. You can tag books that you want to read later on so they are easy to find. The other two tags can be used for rating books you like or don’t like. If these aren’t enough tags for your taste, you can add others.

To add a tag, just tap on “Tag” next to a title, and then select the desired tag.

If you’re thinking about giving ebooks a try, I hope this will help you get started. Tomorrow I’ll talk about reading settings.

As always, if you have questions, please email me at vquist@plumcreeklibrary.net

Happy reading!

~Val

Celebrating Life at Easter

Easter is less than a week away. This year is going to be much different from what a traditional Easter is for most of us. This year, we’ll be apart from our families, and trying to make the best of it. I am reminded of the Christmas of 2009, when we were snowed in and unable to be with family on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

For me, Easter brings memories of going to my grandma’s house. My great-grandparents were there, along with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We’d hunt Easter eggs, eat a massive dinner, and in the afternoon we’d go to the field across from my grandma’s house and fly kites.

I still like to fly kites on Easter when weather permits. This year, it looks like it will be too cold. We will still try to incorporate some other traditions, though. There will be Easter eggs, candy, and lots of food. My menu includes scalloped potatoes (just like grandma make), ham, corn, freshly baked bread or buns, and chocolate pie for dessert. It won’t be the same as being with our parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews, but it’s important to celebrate anyway.

Those of us with young children in our lives may be struggling to find ways to make Easter special this year. Reading is an easy way to keep the holiday at the forefront this week. Here are some books with Easter, spring, and bunny themes to read. If you have grandchildren you’re away from this week, you could even read one to them via video chat!

“Easter,” by Rebecca Pettiford

“Easter,” by Brenda Haugen

“Happy Easter, Gus!” by Jacklynn Williams

“Too Many Carrots,” by Katy Hudson

“Berenstain Bears Easter Magic,” by Stan and Jan Berenstain

“Spring Surprises,” by Anna Jane Hays

“Curious George and the Bunny,” H.A. and Margret Rey

“The Story of Easter,” by Sarah Young

“Queen of Easter,” by Mary Engelbreit

“Easter Egg Day,” by Tara Knudson

“Mickey’s Easter Hunt,” by Sheila Sweeny Higginson

“Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure,” by James Dean

There are many more great titles to explore. I’ll leave you for today with Happy Easter wishes from my family to yours.

~Val

Cozy Up With a Good Mystery

After a really beautiful week, today is dreary and cold. It’s the perfect time to cuddle up with a good mystery. Whether it’s a cozy mystery or a fast-paced thriller you’re craving, this list has you covered.

Still Life, Louise Penny

“Still Life” is the first book in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series. Three Pines, the village where the books are set, is absolutely charming – as are the characters who live there. In “Still Life,” a beloved resident is found dead, and it is up to Gamache to figure out if it’s just an accident – or murder.

“Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder,” Joanne Fluke

Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series is set in Lake Eden, a fictional Minnesota town. In “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder,” Swensen finds she has a knack not just for baking, but for solving crimes as well, when a deliveryman is found dead in his truck behind her bakery. This book series also includes some great recipes!

The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware

“The Death of Mrs. Westaway” is an atmospheric mystery/thriller from Ruth Ware. Main character Hal is a tarot card reader who receives a letter in the mail notifying her that she has been bequeathed a large inheritance. It soon becomes evident that something is not quite right about the situation, but Hal desperately needs the money. How far will she go to get it, and will she end up paying with her life?

Spilled Blood, Brian Freeman

If you’ve never read Minnesota author Brian Freeman, “Spilled Blood” is a great place to start. This mystery/thriller is the story of two small Minnesota towns embroiled in a feud, and the murder of a teenage girl. When his daughter is accused of the crime, a Minneapolis lawyer works to unravel the mystery, and uncovers some ugly truths in the process.

Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson

The main character of S.J. Watson’s “Before I Go to Sleep” is an amnesiac who wakes up each day with no memory of who she is, or anything about her life. She is desperate to uncover the truth about who she is, and figure out who she can trust.

The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn

“The Woman in the Window” is a memorable thriller about a woman suffering from agoraphobia. When she thinks she sees a crime committed across the street, it sets into motion events that will reveal many secrets – including her own. It’s full of twists and turns.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced read, try one of these or one of the many other mysteries and thrillers available through OverDrive/Libby.

As always, if you have any questions, please email me at vquist@plumcreeklibrary.net

Happy reading!

~Val