What is Overdrive?

The Middlebury College Libraries have recently acquired dozens of new audiobooks on the Overdrive platform, which is compatible with a variety of devices: iPods, MP3 players, Androids, Nooks, Ereaders, Chromebooks and many more! Try them out at go/overdrive/. To read how a variety of users have enjoyed these resources, see below. And for instructions, on how to use them, check out this graphic to the left.

Name: Katrina Spencer

Title: Literatures & Cultures Librarian

Major: Library Literacy

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Titles You’ve Listened to On Overdrive: “The Hunger Games” trilogy, “The Silent Wife,” “The Wife Between Us,” “Things Fall Apart,” “The Underground Railroad,” “Heads of the Colored People,” “Sister Outsider,” “I’m Afraid of Men,” “Becoming,” “Hunger: A Memoir of My Body,” “Less,” “Between the World and Me.”

What first drew you to this platform?

I actually resisted investigating audiobooks for awhile. While I’m technically a “millennial,” I didn’t want to engage with my smartphone any more than I already do. But when I started hitting the gym — an overdue undertaking — I still wanted to have time for books. Audiobooks allowed me to be mobile and engaged with literature at the same time.

Advantages of Audiobooks: I can stretch at the gym, cook or drive while listening to them.

Disadvantages of Audiobooks: I can’t underline or highlight text while listening and skipping ahead or back to a passage with accuracy isn’t as easy as turning the pages in a print book.

To whom would you recommend audiobooks on Overdrive and why?

I recommend Overdrive to people who are busy and love literature, best sellers and classics. Audio books allow me to consume texts with a speed I’ve never encountered before. I can stay abreast of the latest releases without having to give up or negotiate other activities like exercise. 

What else should users know and why?

I would not recommend this platform for people who want to deeply study works of literature, their plots, their constructions, their word play, etc. It seems this platform is best for a more cursory understanding of texts. It provides quick, surface access. But for me, if I want to be deep, analytical and ponderous, I need a print work, stillness, to be able to take notes, to rewind, re-visit and re-examine passages.

The books currently on Overdrive tend to be geared towards leisurely consumption and extracurricular works rather than representative of the “great works” of literature from “the” canon. It’s unlikely that you’ll find your textbooks in this format within this collection. Also, these works are read/performed by voice actors. So it’s interesting when there is more than one actor, as in A.S.A. Harrison’s “The Silent Wife” or when the actor performs foreign accents as is the case with Oyinkan Braithwaite’s “My Sister, the Serial Killer.” 

Name: Marcos Rohena-Madrazo

Title: Associate Professor

Department: Department of Luso-Hispanic Studies / Linguistics Program

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Titles You’ve Listened to On Overdrive: “La casa de los espíritus,” “Song of Ice & Fire” Saga, “The Hunger Games” Trilogy, The “Harry Potter” Series, “Brave New World,” “Dune,” Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” Amy Poehler’s “Yes, Please,” etc. (I’ve listened to many others on Audible; out of those some notable reads are “Americanah,” “Lolita,” “Cryptonomicon,” “The Color Purple,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “A Little Life,” and some amazing author-read memoirs that I mention below.)

What first drew you to this platform? 

The fact that I can borrow audiobooks for free from the Middlebury College Library or from the local library. I am an Audible subscriber, but I always check whether my libraries have the book before buying it on Audible. Also, Overdrive is good for multi-volume series, since you don’t have to commit to buying the five books in a series (one or two might not be that good, wink wink).

Advantages of Audiobooks: Multitasking! I love listening to audiobooks while I’m doing chores or doing exercise or driving long distances. Also, I particularly like listening to memoirs that are read by the author; it’s their story in their own voice, as they meant you to hear it. (“Dreams of My Father,” written and read by Barack Obama, or “Redefining Realness,” written and read by Janet Mock, or “Born a Crime,” written and read by Trevor Noah…wow, so incredibly powerful!). This is an experience that you cannot have with a traditional print book.

Disadvantages of Audiobooks: 

You can’t tell when a chapter or a book is about to end, the way that you can with a print book. It’s happened to me while I’m driving that I’m really into the audiobook and suddenly the book ends and I’m left feeling, “Wait, what? That was the end!? I wasn’t ready!” But this is a relatively small drawback. Oh, it’s much harder to use “bookmarks” and take notes, so I wouldn’t recommend audiobooks for academic readings for class or research.

To whom would you recommend audiobooks on Overdrive and why? 

I would recommend audiobooks on Overdrive to anyone who is “too busy” to read. In my youth I was a voracious reader, but with the responsibilities of grad school and academia, I felt guilty if I read for pleasure. Audiobooks have allowed me to rekindle my love of literature and reading for fun!

What else should users know and why? 

I find it really fun to set up a rotation system, e.g. traditional novel, sci-fi/fantasy novel, non-fiction/memoir, and then start back with another novel. That keeps the listening experience interesting and diverse. Enjoy! 

Name: Tré Stephens

Year: 2021 

Major: Education and Theater

Titles You’ve Listened to On Overdrive: “The Hunger Games”

What first drew you to this platform? 

As a person with a learning disability I have always disliked grabbing a book from the shelf and just reading it. I have a very short attention span and often lose my place in the book I was reading. This platform has made it so easy to listen to my favorite stories, and the best part is I don’t even have to strain myself reading them, I can just listen to the book and it reads itself to me.

Advantages of Audiobooks:

I can’t speak for everyone, but I definitely think this is a tool that can help challenged readers. Also it’s a very nice way to listen to your favorite stories while multitasking. 

Disadvantages of Audiobooks: I do think that as we move forward in this day and age, we sometimes forget about what came before. I hope people actually still use the library and learn how to use the library. With audiobooks, the library is in the palm of your hand, but it’s definitely a skill people should still be learning to master. 

To whom would you recommend audiobooks on Overdrive and why?

As I said before, I think everyone should use Overdrive. Honestly, this has been a great way for me to view books that may be too expensive on other platforms such as Amazon, Google Books, and Apple. It’s literally a free way to release books, who doesn’t love that? 

What else should users know and why?

The interface is a bit tricky at first, but after some playing around with it, you will get used to it.

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