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Getcher free Springsteen, right now

I logged onto the Spokane Public Library's new free music download service, Freegal, yesterday — and it lived up to expectations.

It contains 500,000 songs from the Sony music archives. City library card holders can download — and keep — three songs per week.

It will take me months to thoroughly browse the offerings, but it contains just about the entire Bruce Springsteen catalog, the entire Simon and Garfunkel catalog and lots of the Frank Sinatra catalog.

And those are just the S's.

A quick rule of thumb: Artists on a Sony label or any of its affiliates (including the mighty Columbia Records label), will probably be there.

To access it, you must have a Spokane Public Library card and the PIN number that you already use to log onto the library's website. If you don't have a PIN number, you'll have to go to any branch and get one.

Classical music fans might be particularly pleased. The site contains lots of outstanding classical selections. But you might have to download them movement by movement.

See the original post below for more details.

Free music, courtesy of Spokane Public Library

Beginning soon, the Spokane Public Library will offer you a legal way to download music for free.

It's called Freegal, and in mid-July the library will be offering the entire Sony music catalog, which includes a half-million tracks, including songs by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Adele, Britney Spears, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bartok and Beethoven, along with thousands of others.

Library card holders can download three songs a week for free. And, unlike the old-fashioned method of checking out albums from the library, you never have to return them. They are yours to keep.

The library pays for the Freegal service, but it's a good deal for the library, since it's a lot more cost effective than shelving and maintaining that many CDS (and trying to keep them from getting stolen).

Go to the Spokane Public Library website to access this service. The library has not been any more specific than "mid-July" for the launch, which means we can start looking for it in the next two weeks, at least.

Kamm: 1st Memory Of My Father

Kamm: Reading has alway been my refuge. My first memory of my father, who was at sea for loooong periods of time, was taking me to the main library so I could print my name on a check out card. I could check out as many books as I could carry. It was a wondrous experience. I can still be found in a chair by the fireplace at least weekly. I’m open to any book, even complicated relationships and dark subjects, as long there is some hope by the end.

Question: What is your first memory of your father?

Idaho libraries get Gates Foundation help for broadband grants

Idaho’s Commission for Libraries has been selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as one of 13 state library agencies that the foundation will help apply for federal broadband stimulus grants, with the aim of bringing high-speed Internet access for the public to all of Idaho’s 140 public libraries. The foundation will give the state library commission help and technical assistance in applying for the grant, and if they’re successful, it’ll provide the required matching funds.

Though most of Idaho’s libraries offer Internet access, about 40 percent are below minimum standards for bandwidth, said Idaho libraries spokeswoman Teresa Lipus. State Librarian Ann Joslin said, “This is an unprecedented opportunity for the public libraries in Idaho lacking broadband access that is affordable, sustainable and scalable to meet future needs.” As part of the effort, the foundation will train Idaho librarians on how to apply for federal “E-Rate” funding for ongoing broadband connection costs.

“A successful grant proposal by the Commission means more citizens will be able to get online at their public library to look for a job, find workforce resources, and access government information,” Gov. Butch Otter said. “This is a meaningful and cost-effective way to provide needed services to the people of Idaho.”

Books We Love

Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children awards the prestigious Caldecott Medal to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Some of those books are probably already on your bookshelves at home – they’re the ones with the gold sticker on the front featuring a rendition of the medal. Many of these books also can be found at the Spokane Public Library and other libraries in your area.

The award was named in honor of Randolph Caldecott, a 19th-century English illustrator. It’s his birthday this month so Auntie’s Bookstore is having a Caldecott Storytime on Saturday.

Come down to enjoy the amazing artwork as we read some Caldecott Medal and Caldecott Honor books. All Ages. 11 a.m., Auntie’s Bookstore, Children’s section, 402 W. Main Ave. Free. (509) 838-0206.

 My family’s favorite book this year didn’t win the medal, but it did receive the Caldecott Honor (those are the books with the silver sticker). It’s called “How I Learned Geography,” written by one of my favorite artists, Uri Shulevitz. (He also wrote and illustrated other Caldecott honor books including “Snow.” In 1969, he won the Caldecott Medal for “The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship.”) “How I Learned Geography” is about a boy forced by war to become a refugee. Although he was often hungry, he found solace in a map that his father bought one day at the market instead of food. The book is based on Shulevitz’s life, and how his family fled the Warsaw Blitz during World War II. (Shulevitz now lives in New York City.) It’s an absolutely beautiful and inspiring book, I think.

What are your some of your family’s favorite books this year?

Read Between The (New?) Lines

I know one of my favorite things to do is sit in Barnes and Noble at a cafe table with a coffe and read all afternoon. My friend asked me yesterday, “What do you do in bookstores?” I told her “I read books.” I don’t remember how the rest of the conversation went, but I know that it the end product was that she said that bookstores weren’t necessary, because everyone uses them as libraries anyway. I disagreed, but then we (gasp!) actually had to start Language Arts work. My reasoning was that sometimes you just want to buy a book, or need to buy a book.

I found a fantastic article in a college newspaper, The Maine Campus, called Bookstore Readers by Spencer Morton. I would be very interested to know local stores’ ideas on ‘free reading’.

EDIT: Just called Barnes and Noble in the Valley. Jeff said, when asked what Barnes and Noble’s policy on ‘free reading’ is, that “We have no problem. You can come in, grab a coffee, sit in a chair and read all afternoon.”

It got me to thinking: Do you read books in bookstores, without buying them afterwards? Is this an okay thing to do? What is your explanation or opinion on either for my friend’s side or mine? In these economic times, have you visited a library more and a bookstore less?

Another reason to get carded

On our daily tips, we suggested one of the greenest acts you can do is head to the library. So we were happy to receive an email from the Spokane Library regarding the “Green Spokane Sustainability Collection.”

To wit: “Located at the downtown library, the collection features books and DVDs with helpful information about everyday ways to conserve resources. In addition to big topics like wind power, solar power and energy security, you’ll find information you can use right now—how to make your home more eco-friendly, for instance, or simple ways to save energy in your daily life.”

The Green Spokane Sustainability Collection was sponsored by a grant from the Washington State Office of Community, Trade, & Economic Development (CTED). Susanne Croft, who served as the city of Spokane’s Sustainability Coordinator, authored the grant.

According to the email, the collection items are labeled “Green Spokane” and are housed on the library’s second floor and available for the same amount of time as regular items. Three weeks for books, one week for DVDs. We’re excited… and promise to avoid late charges out of deference to other readers.