You have just gotten comfortable with the current models of e-readers and tablets that your patrons got for Christmas last year and have brought to the library in hopes of learning how to use them, only to realize that you will be faced with a whole new set of problems and questions this year because every company is offering a newer, prettier, faster device for the Christmas buying season. Fear not! The basics you struggled to learn last year still hold true. Knowing some basics will help you navigate each device, no matter the maker.
Every device has a home screen with some degree of personalization options. The e-ink readers usually have options to sort the titles on the screen by most recent, title or author. The color devices often have a multi-screen home page (designated by a series of small dots at the top or bottom of the screen) or a favorite’s shelf. Books can be added to the home page or placed in the library for later use. Typically, holding your finger on the book icon will open a menu for making changes on where to place the title. Some Color devices also allow for you to personalize the background of the home screen with wallpaper. The wallpaper menus are usually found in the settings menu or by pressing and holding a finger on a blank area of the home screen.
Every device has a list of settings. Settings usually include lists of options for setting up Wi-Fi, brightness, volume, display, date and time, security, and parental controls. They may also include options for connecting to social media, setting up the home screen, shopping for new material, and adjusting the keyboard to personal tastes. To find the settings menu on a device look for something that looks like a cog. The symbol styles vary slightly in look, but most devices have some version of a cog to tap to open the settings menu.
Menu Menus allow you to select various options. Sometimes the settings options will be opened first through a menu. On e-readers the menu might be opened by a button. On touch devices the menu will look like a piece of paper with lines on it or bullets and lines.
Reading Settings When reading books on digital devices, there are several settings that can be adjusted to make the reading experience more comfortable for the reader. The reading settings are found by tapping the icon with two A’s. The typical adjustments include the font size, the margins, the line spacing, the color settings, and the font settings.
Each device will store a number of books. Many devices will allow you to add newspapers, magazines, music, videos, and apps. If these items are not visible on the home screen they will be found under the menu by the name of the material you are searching, in your device library, or media shelf. Most companies also offer archived storage. This allows the user to remove a purchased item from the device to free up space. The content will live on the user’s account associated with the device. The content can be downloaded to the device again at any time.
Wi-Fi Nearly all mobile devices have the ability to connect to the Internet. If you have wireless Internet at home, a local restaurant, a motel, or your Public Library you will have to connect your device to the network. Be aware that some hotels charge for this service and it will be added to your bill at check-out. Look for the Wi-Fi symbol on the screen. If you do not see it or it looks empty, with no lines showing connectivity, then you are not connected to the Internet. Go to the settings menu to turn on the wireless and connect to the local Wi-Fi.
3G and 4G
Some devices can be purchased with 3G and 4G connectivity. These devices will connect to the Internet over cell phone connections. This type of connection is generally slower than a Wi-Fi connection; however you can access the Internet from more places. Many areas of the country do not yet offer 4G cell connections and some still do not offer 3G.
Mobile devices run on rechargeable battery power. A single charge will expend at varying rates depending on the activity being done with the device. Reading takes less power than surfing the Internet. Watching videos takes even more power. A symbol on your screen that looks like a standard battery will show you how much power is remaining. The center of the symbol will change color as your battery discharges. If the battery goes completely flat, the device will not turn on until it has been plugged in for up to 30 minutes.
Shop/Store New purchases can be made right from the device. Most devices will use the words “shop” or “store” and/or an icon with a shopping bag to indicate how to access their available online content. Depending on the type of device the content available may include books, magazines, newspapers, apps, videos, and music. The device will have to be connected to the Internet in order to shop or purchase content. Many books and apps are free and the stores usually allow the user to search for content by key words like “free.” The Overdrive app is free for users to download on color devices and allows the user to borrow books from their local library through Montana Library2go.