From 'Night Court' to the library, all without going outside

From 'Night Court' to the library, all without going outside

What if I told you that a Facebook post from a college buddy led me to try the Champaign Public Library’s cellphone app?

Weird, but true:

Blog PhotoSo this friend posts a picture of his University of Illinois-issued IDs from the early 1970s to Facebook.

If you've seen anyone's college ID photos from the early 1970s, you can imagine that my estimation of his courage rose significantly. 

In response to some of the comments, he quoted John Astin's character on "Night Court," saying "I'm feeling MUCH better now."

And then, I thought, boy, I haven't seen "Night Court" in ages. Great show, terrific cast. I should go to the libra--.

Wait a tick.

I've got the Champaign Public Library's app on my phone. I launched the app, and in less than five minutes, had reserved three seasons of the show on DVD. 

That was easy.

If you just want to reserve something, the app will work just fine. But to take advantage of some of its other features -- and they're really cool features -- you have to take some extra steps that aren't so obvious.Blog Photo

I installed the CPL Mobile app on my Android phone a week or so ago. When I first launched it, it crashed three or four times before it let me do anything. I had other things to do, so I set it aside. This time, it launched perfectly, let me log in to my account, find the TV shows, and reserve them. (They're all checked out right now. Can you blame them?)

The app is available in both Google Play and iTunes. I haven't tested it on iOS.

I'm getting ready for a small road trip, and I was tempted by the ability to download audiobooks straight to my phone. Here's where two of the extra steps come in.

You need to download the OverDrive Media Console app. It's also available in the standard markets, and it's what lets your device handle ebooks and audiobooks. You should download it before you try to use the library app.

The second step is that you need an Adobe ID to use anything you download via OverDrive. It can be frustrating because there is no warning ahead of time that you'll need the ID. But the OverDrive app has a link; follow it and sign up for the ID. It doesn't take long and it's painless. (And if you load these apps on more than one device, you'll need to have the ID to authorize the additional device.)

On my initial attempt, I wanted to download an audiobook collection of Mark Twain short stories. The app told me I'd already downloaded it, even though I hadn't. The same thing happened with other audiobooks. A couple of days later, trying again with a different book, everything worked perfectly. Within a few minutes, I had the audiobook on my phone. (The app still thinks I have already checked out every Twain audiobook there is.)

I have since downloaded the apps to an Android tablet and was able to check out and download an ebook to the tablet flawlessly.

And I just got an email that one season of "Night Court" is waiting for me at the library.

I'm feeling MUCH better now.

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