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It seems like technology gets the best of us sometimes. The pace that things change and evolve seems to match the speed of light. While we all heard of the theory of relativity and the formula, E=MC2 do we really know what that means? Sometimes technology has that feeling. Libraries have to try to be on the front lines of technology and anticipate what and how our communities will embrace it.
People who purchase music have travelled down a long and winding road of change based on technology. Full sized and “45” vinyl albums brought music into our homes. We could buy and listen to what we wanted and not be at the mercy of radio program directors. This paved the way for technologies that worked and those that didn’t, each having their own mark on popular culture. After vinyl, 8-track players allowed us to take our big and bulky music with us in our vehicles. That did not stick around, but was followed by cassette tapes. I still have a few cassettes lying around my house somewhere. Then came CDs, which the library still circulates, followed by digital downloads. That’s when the path became incredibly winding and treacherous.
This was something totally different than anything we had ever experienced before. You could download things for free (even if it was not legal), and it was such a better quality than when we tried to record songs off the radio onto cassettes. You could download just one song, and not have to buy the whole album. Then when mp3 players came, you didn’t have to burn discs anymore. Just put everything on your iPod and you could take all the best songs you wanted to hear with you wherever you went.
But how fair was that to the artists? I know that I justified downloading free music by telling myself that musicians are multi-millionaires, does my 99 cents really make that much difference to them? Then movies started being downloaded and pirated. I saw a PSA that hit home with me. It wasn’t of the big movie stars. It was the assistants, the catering crew and the ticket taker at the movie theater. Piracy affects their bottom line, too.
Speaking of long and winding roads, you may be asking yourself, “How does all of this even remotely relate to the library?”
As a digital music lover, I was thrilled to learn about a new service called Freegal. Free-gal, as I used to say it, is a strangely named service that allows our patrons to download songs for free and legally. But when you pronounce the name correctly, it makes perfect sense. It is “free-gul,” because it is free and legal.
On our website, there is a Freegal button. When you select that button, it directs you to a webpage that allows you to download three free songs a week.
Now, not every song is going to be there. These are only songs from Sony and all of its subsidiaries. But this is a pretty vast catalog that covers all genres of music.
Download from the Freegal site and save it in iTunes (or any other music service) and that digital copy is yours. There is an app that can be loaded on your Apple or Android products that allows you do download without using the computer.
I think this is a pretty neat service that allows us to help our community embrace new technology, although, I do understand new technology is coming at the speed of light. So we better be prepared to look for the next big thing to help us keep moving along with it.