Downloading music at the library (24)

March 19, 2008

We know, this is the second post in one week. This wasn’t originally part of March Apps Mania, but consider this the winner of the “play-in game.” We posted about streaming music this week. But what about downloading music? Can you download mp3 files on library computers? We’ve done some research and we hope this post will clarify things.

One note: music file = mp3. There are other types of music files (wma, aac, ogg), but for our purposes today, music file = mp3.

Can anyone download music on library public computers?

Short answer – Yes. But…you have to download an mp3 from a website that does not require special software.

Downloading a song is different from streaming a song. If you stream a song on Pandora, you just click play and listen. You haven’t saved the song for later. If you wanted to hear the song again, you’d need to go back to Pandora. When you download a song, you are saving it for later. On public computers, you can download a song file (or mp3) and save it on a flash drive. Downloading and saving an mp3 is no different from saving a resume or a photo.

The trouble you run into on public computers has to do with downloading software (like iTunes). Downloading an mp3 file is just like saving a resume, but some websites require you to use specific software to download music files.

Amazon and iTunes both have music you can buy and download. If you buy a song from iTunes, you have to use the iTunes software. Because software cannot be installed by the public, they cannot buy music from iTunes. If you buy a song from Amazon, you don’t have to install any software. Amazon lets you buy and download a song right to your flash drive. Basically, you can download music on library computers when the site does not require software installation. There are a lot of websites that sell mp3s, some require software and some don’t.

Should I help someone download music? How much can I help a patron?

Yes, absolutely help someone with a question about downloading music!

If someone is having trouble downloading a song, look at the website they’re using. Check the help and FAQ screens to see if the site requires software installation. Amazon encourages people to use the Amazon MP3 Downloader (special software similar to iTunes), but if you look at the FAQ you see that it isn’t required. If a site does not require special software, you can offer to demonstrate how to save a file to a flash drive.

If someone is looking for mp3s, a simple google search for download mp3 will bring up a lot of possibilities. In a pinch, you can always suggest Amazon.

Remember you can always call a colleague and see if they can help. We might not be able to get the patron what they want 100% of the time. But, people usually appreciate the effort.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1. Browse the Cylinder Archive for some wonderful original recordings.
2. Download an mp3 to the branch flash drive.
3. Take the Survey.
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4 Responses to “Downloading music at the library (24)”

  1. Amanda Says:

    What’s the library policy about assisting with illegal (i.e. free) downloads from non ad-supported or P2P sites?

  2. npljenny Says:

    This was such a good question that it deserved its own post. Check out our post “Downloading music at the library: a follow-up” from March 28th for more suggestions on assisting with downloads.

  3. Jim Says:

    In regards to the Cylinder Archive, I played some of the stuff there for some kids at my church and they were absolutly facinated. One mother told me that her boy was playing old music on the computer at home now, so I assume she meant that he visited the site. (That ole Gasoline Gus and his Jitney Bus are the cat’s pajamas.)

  4. npljenny Says:

    I love the idea of a little boy playing old music from the Cylinder Archive. I’ll have to show it to my nephew – he loves music. Thanks for the idea!


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