October/November 2012

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Listening Librarians® News and ideas for librarians & teachers Q&A with Valerie Piechocki, Prince George's County Memorial Library "Because of my position, I check out the audio of anything that may be controversial.The experience of listening can be very different than reading print." —-Valerie Piechocki, Chief of Materials Management, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Maryland Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) Serving a population of approximately 800,000 people bordering Washington, DC, PGCMLS has 18 branches—and 19 opening in October. A longtime audio fan, Piechocki has hosted narrator programs with George Guidall and Barbara Rosenblat and one on the making of an audiobook with Scott Brick and Dan Musselman at Maryland Library Association annual conferences. As an early adopter of digital audio, Piechocki worked diligently to persuade audiobook publishers, including Random House and Tantor Media, to make their content available through OverDrive. Last year, she was a judge for the Audies in the category of biogra- phies. What got you started with audiobooks? One of my col- For more than 11 years, Valerie Piechocki has been the Chief of Materials Management at Prince George's County leagues told me I should listen to a Janet Evanovich title. I tried it and found I was laughing out loud—something that wouldn't have happened if I'd been reading—and from then on I was hooked. Since I started working for Prince George's County and commute an hour and a half each way, audiobooks have been a near necessity. I often find myself stuck in traffic, and listening keeps me alert, entertained, and free of road rage. I'm a very eclectic reader and listen to some 75 to 100 audiobooks a year. How do you balance your digital and physical audio collections?When OverDrive was just getting started, we joined a consortium of some Maryland library systems to try it out. As time went on, we decided to go off on our own, partly because the consortium wasn't able to keep up with the hold ratio we like to maintain and partly because Prince George's is the only coun- ty in Maryland that is predominantly African-American and we wanted to be sure that the titles we bought best served our customers. One reason we've been able to meet the demand for digital is we decided not to purchase Playaways. Today we have 6,917 downloadable audiobook titles in our OverDrive collec- tion (MP3 and WMA combined)— and several thousand more titles through Recorded Books OneClick Digital. We still spend more on CDs than we do on digital, because many customers prefer that format. Liberty Poster for Libraries Would you like a FREE poster to promote audiobooks and good listening in your library, inspired by AudioFile's June/July Lady Liberty cover? Send an email to, and we'll set you up! 68 s AudioFile/ advocating for this for years: I want a single downloadable file that synchronizes the professionally narrated audiobook with the e-book so that I have a choice when I get home whether to con- tinue listening or to sit quietly with my e-reader. The technology's there—or almost there—but it will take a commitment from a major audio publisher to get it going. In the meantime, PGCMLS is looking into Baker and Taylor's Axis 360 platform using the e-reader application Blio, which can go between text and audio. We're considering purchasing a digital collection of profession- ally narrated children's picture books in order to give the Baker and Taylor platform a trial.—Priscilla Grant What is your dream for the future of audiobooks? I've been

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