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Tech @ the Library
Freegal Music is HMCPL's online music service that provides you with high quality, free-of-cost, and DRM-free, music -- songs and albums that are yours to keep forever! Now in our second year of offering this service to you, our music provider has has released a major new update to Freegal, with lots of useful new features!
During the transition period, you may experience some issues with the site loading properly; we're recommending that patrons clear their cache, make sure they've logged out and back in, and as a last resort, try again later, as the site may just be overloaded.
But, on with the new features...
The following is taken straight from the Freegal FAQ.
- A brand-new interface, search engine, and browse abilities. These changes are the by-product of your suggestions and years of research into best practices in the industry. We feel that this change alone will mark a new level in enjoyment from Freegal users.
- A more than doubling of the content. By the end of August 2013, Freegal Music will consist over 7 million songs from over 28,000 labels that originate in over 80 countries. This includes the complete catalog of Sony Music Entertainment, in your home country, on the day of release. Right now our song count exceeds 5 million songs that are live, and we are ingesting between 50,000 and 100,000 new songs a day.
- Freegal Music will be a public site, that is, and end user will be able to see the great Freegal Music content without logging in, assuming your library has not restricted access with authentication. This will enable the library to promote specific Freegal songs, and send links to the songs via social media.
- 12,000 music videos live on the site with the Freegal 4.0 launch. Library users will be able to download a DRM-free MP4 file that is theirs to keep forever. A download of a video counts as 2 of your weekly allotment. We are very excited about the music videos, some of which are musical treasures. Initially, the videos will only be available for download via the web. The videos will be available for download to the apps by September 15th.
- The following additional features are also live with Freegal 4.0:
- The ability to create a wishlist of songs that they want to download in subsequent weeks.
- The ability to backup songs downloaded into the app on their iTunes.
- The ability to delete songs from their app to save memory on their phones.
My favorite items about the above:
- The new search bar is fantastic, offering search suggestions that are categorized and neatly listed!
- Links to individual songs can be created and shared but links to whole albums or artists are even easier.
- We're also eagerly anticipating the imminent release of:
- Millions of songs that are yet to be added -- the library is growing exponentially!
- A new version of the mobile app (iOS/Android) with a much improved interface and some great new features.
- More music videos that are being added to the library.
- Streaming music -- up to 3 hours a day, every day, for free!
- Logging in to the site is enhanced, as now you can browse the site without logging in; clicking the Login button will take you to a page that will allow you to search for our library (which can be as simple as entering a relevant zip code, such as 35801), and Huntsville-Madison County Public Library will appear on the right; clicking that will take you directly to our login page!
We are expecting to see even more new features before the end of September. Stay tuned!!
Our primary database server will undergo planned maintenance this Sunday, May 19, starting at 6 p.m. Central Time. Maintenance is scheduled to be completed by 6 a.m. the following morning.
During the period, you will still be able to browse our online catalog, but you will not be able to login to your account, place holds, view lists, renew items, or other tasks associated with your account.
Our current plan is to have all major in-library services available to patrons by public opening on Monday morning. There is the possibility that some lower-priority services may be temporarily unavailable until shortly after opening, though we will attempt to have work-arounds in place as necessary.
Thank you for your patience while we continue to enhance our services for you!
Our catalog server, located at hmcpl.org/catalog, will be taken offline for scheduled maintenance starting Tuesday, April 24, at 11:00 a.m. CDT. This maintenance window should last 30 minutes, and is required to repair software issues that have been causing unplanned outages with that particular service.
This outage will affect all book and media searches for material that is within the libraries, regardless of where you search from (home, a branch, a library, etc). It will not affect access to other online resources. However, if you have the BookMyne app on your iOS or Android device, you will still be able to search our catalog, place holds, or manage your renewals, even during the server outage.
Please plan accordingly, and thanks for your understanding and patience as we improve our service to you!
While we were busy waiting for the snow to melt, we kept pushing forward with other changes to our new catalog. As some of you may have noticed, we did a software update last week; some of the changes that came with the update included a Facebook "Like" button and fixes to several bugs that prevented patrons from emailing links or effectively using RSS feeds. Those were the easy changes.
Today, our catalog's integrated social services list looks like this:
- reddit (for search results)
- digg (for search results)
- Twitter (for individual items)
- Facebook (for individual items)
And finally, you'll find that you can now view content from NoveList when looking at an item's detail view. This feature was available in our old "iBistro" catalog, but until this latest update, has been unavailable in our new catalog. We've now got this functionality back, so you can see Series Information, Similar Titles, and Similar Authors to help you more easily find your next good read!
We hope you enjoy our catalog's new features!
Due to the massive snow storm in the northeast United States, the power has been lost to one of our content providers. This particular service is the source of a large quantity of the cover art we use in our catalog searches.
The net effect for you is that the search results you get will have broken cover art, and searches take a lot longer to load. We've experimented with turning the link to this particular provider off, but have found that other services are negatively impacted, making matters even worse.
So, while we await the delivery and connection of some very large generators to our content provider, you'll see noticably slower performance in our catalog searches. We apologize for the inconvenience, but hope you understand that there are millions who are even more negatively impacted by this weather event, and in this connected era, even we in Madison County can be affected by a nor'easter!
Watch this post for updates as we continue to monitor the situation for you.
Update: 1-Nov-2011 13:27
Performance has taken a drastic turn for the worse. We have turned off the cover art content at this time. Please excuse the ugly blue placeholder images, but you should find that your searches will work much faster now.
Update: 2-Nov-2011 10:13
And our provider is back on-line! All of our cover art should appear as normal. Thanks for your patience and understanding through this service interruption!
For those of you who attended our presentation on open source software in libraries at the Alabama Library Association Convention, thanks for coming out to hear us!
During Tamara's portion of the presentation, she discussed Moodle ( a free course creation website) and talked about how she used Moodle to create a series of interactive courses for library staff:
In Fall 2009, the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Social Network Challenge was created as a way to introduce library staff to various Web 2.0 websites as well as other online resources held by our library which they may not have used before. The HMCPL Social Network Challenge was based on Learning 2.0, a program that was originally developed and launched for the staff at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, North Carolina during August 2006.
Moodle or Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment is a free learning management system for producing Internet-based course websites. The main power of this activity-based model comes in combining activities into sequences and groups, which can help guide participants through learning paths. Thus, each activity can build on the outcomes of the previous ones. There are a number of other tools that make it easier to build communities of learners, including blogs, messaging and participant lists as well useful tools for grading, creating reports and integrating with other systems.
Moodle also has a thriving online community at Moodle.org where Moodle users can ask questions, post to forums, download documents or Moodle Themes, read the latest Moodle news and get Moodle support.
Three resources that helped me out tremendously while setting up the HMCPL Social Network Challenge were Moodle Course Conversion by Ian Wild, Moodle 1.9 E-Learning Course Development by William H. Rice IV (the fourth) & the online book Using Moodle-Teaching with the Popular Open Source Course Management System by Jason Cole and Helen Foster.