December 2012/January 2013

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Listening Librarians® News and ideas for librarians & teachers Q&A with Elizabeth Hensley, Culpeper County Library, Culpeper, VA from Washington, D.C., population about 46,000. When Elizabeth Hensley arrived in 2004 after 12 years as a public librarian in Fredericksburg, she was pleased to find her new library offered wireless to its patrons and was otherwise keeping up with the electronic revolution. How do audiobooks figure in your programs?We were early Culpeper County Library is in the town of Culpeper but serves the entire mostly rural county, some 70 miles away "We may be a small library but we still aim to provide the audiobooks people want." —Elizabeth Hensley, Technical Services & Collection Development Coordinator, Culpeper County Library, Culpeper, VA adopters of digital audio, and our director, Susan Keller, is very supportive of our effort to buy multiple formats. We were one of two libraries in VA to create the first consortium to contract with OverDrive. The consortium grew and grew, and the advantage is that everyone buys for their library but the titles are available to all consortium patrons. One of my goals is to better align the print and audio collections: If we have bestsellers in print, then we should have them in audio, and I also want to fulfill requests for adults and teens who are learning English and ask for audio- books so they can listen as they read the print edition. What is your personal journey with audio? As a young adult nect between the audio industry and what happens in libraries. At the Virginia Library Association's annual conference in October, Michelle Cobb of AudioGo and I did a workshop on Redefining Audio: Making it a Priority. Nationally, download- ables are now more than half of all audio sales, and CD sales are trending down toward 40%. Yet our recent survey of Virginia public libraries shows annual circulation of CDs far outnumbered digital downloads: 1,121,073 CDs to 64,112 downloads, yet publishers are producing fewer CDs. (See Conference Presentations 2012 at What could make downloading more attractive? First of all, librarian, I did some storytelling, and learning the techniques drew me to audios of short stories. Now I order all the audio- books for the library and enjoy listening with my husband in the car. (See recommendations opposite.) How do you see formats trending? There's kind of a discon- Call for Libraries Is your library doing exciting things with audiobooks? Nominate a colleague, or yourself! Send an email to, and we might profile your library in a future issue of AudioFile! 68 s AudioFile/ tech support from the vendors directly to library patrons would certainly help. We had to host an OverDrive "petting zoo" at the library—so people could bring in their devices and learn the ins and outs of how to download books. People ask, why do I have to wait for "a copy" if it's digital? I believe these problems have solutions and it just will take time. The state of Virginia has sup- plied Freading ( for all the libraries in the state at no cost, and this service is already offering simultaneous use of its e-books—-but it hasn't yet tackled audio. We're looking at Recorded Books One-Click Digital and Baker and Taylor Axis 360 and we're talking with other library systems about their expe- rience and the ways vendors could improve their products. That's the beauty of a competitive market.—Priscilla Grant

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