Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Digital music downloads at library a big hit

by: Bertram Rantin

The songs of Adele, James Taylor, Kenny Chesney, Janis Joplin and thousands more are among the free music titles now available through a new digital download service at the Richland County Public Library.

More than 13,000 music files have been downloaded since the library began offering its Freegal Music service in late June.

“We have been blown away by the response,” said Tony Tallent, the library’s director of literacy and learning. “It has just been incredible. We knew that it was something the public would go for, and they sure have.”

The music service is the latest addition to the library’s downloadable media inventory that also includes fiction and non-fiction eBooks and audiobooks, videos and games.

Library patrons now can download thousands of songs from more than 50 record labels within the Sony Music Entertainment catalog onto their PCs, Macs, iPods, iPads and other MP3-compatiable devices. Each cardholder can download up to three songs per week — 156 songs a year — and the files do not expire.

The library is paying for the service, allowing members to download the music legally without facing copyright issues. Lexington County and Kershaw County libraries don’t offer free music downloads yet, but both have other media available for download.

Melanie Parker of Forest Acres and her family have been taking advantage of the Freegal service since it launched.

“I’ve downloaded three songs weekly since it started,” said Parker, whose downloads have ranged from Bach, to Aaron Copeland to Charlotte Church. “Freegal is the icing on the library cake.”

Tallent said about 2,000 of the roughly 13,119 music files downloaded since the service started June 20 were in the first two weeks.

“We are seeing it really take off,” he said. “We circulate a lot of music CDs. But at the same time, we know that a lot of our music delivery has moved into the arena of downloadable music.”

And for many like Parker, the free music service has offered another cost saving option in an increasingly challenging economy.

“I love the library and try to take advantage of all it offers, especially online, which is available almost all of the time,” she said.

Tallent said digital downloads of all genres now make up about half of the transactions at the Main Library.

“The digital age has really changed not only the way we interact with each other but the way we seek out information,” he said.

The library has about 500,000 music tracks available, but Tallent said the inventory will expand considerably in the coming months.

“It’s kind of staggering,” Tallent said. “Our public loves music.”

from: The State

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