The Regal Freegal

My library, The Seattle Public Library, just introduced the Freegal Music database. As a patron with a valid library card, you can log in to Freegal, search the extensive collection of songs, and then download three songs per week for FREE as the name implies.

This is awesome, however, it seems a little like borrowing a book from the library and then never returning it. And, the service costs approximately $1 per download, more or less, depending on volume, so I am left to wonder what is in it for the library other than an expanded offering appealing to a wide audience of disillusioned people wondering why they need a library.

Library Journal covered this topic in more depth back in July here, but until I had the opportunity to experience the wonders of Freegal first hand, I felt ill equipped to weigh in on the topic. A company called Library Ideas is behind Freegal Music, as well as some other lending services like moviestick! for USB movies, Rocket Languages for web based language learning, and Big Fish Games for Libraries for video games.

All of these services will go a long way towards saving libraries money on physical collections of DVD’s, CD’s and games – saving product wear and tear and space. In addition, digital delivery gives patrons what they crave – the library anywhere.

It is an interesting and thought provoking complement to e-books. Two things concern me, however. One is that all of these services feature disparate entry points from the main library website. Can this be streamlined? The other is that sometimes I simply go to the library because I need somewhere to go that is free and not my house. If people need not leave their couches, will they?

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