More Sora/Overdrive Updates & FAQs

What's new with Sora and Overdrive?

Questions regarding Sora/Overdrive offline access, particularly Chromebooks

Lately we've been fielding questions regarding whether or not students can download Sora materials to read/listen to offline. This question has come up with particular regard to Chromebooks. Yes, it's possible to have offline access to a Sora ebook/audiobook on some Chromebooks! Here are a couple of ways to access ebooks/audiobooks offline...

1. Newer Chromebooks, Smartphones, tablets--this is where downloading the app from the Chrome store is helpful. If you do not have access to download apps for Chromebooks, ask your IT folks. When accessing ebooks/audiobooks via the Sora app on a Smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook, the user can go to their shelf and prompt their device to download the materials onto their device. (On my iPhone, I see a little cloud next to the title, and "Download queued". I'll check on it in a little bit to make sure it downloaded. I have another title with a red check mark next to it, indicating that it is downloaded to my iPhone.)

2. Older Chromebooks--here's a potential alternative to try, using the traditional Overdrive interface... How to read ebooks offline on Overdrive

3. Fyi, Overdrive is working on an update for Sora to enable offline reading in the browser. We'll let you know when we hear more.

Q: When will my district be Google authenticated? (If you aren't already)

A: This is back on track! Most of the districts were stuck in limbo on this one, but Google finally fixed whatever was going on on Google's end. Karlee Reader says that Authentication Support should be reaching out to districts again to re-start the process. I'm going to send out an email with the directions for you to share with your IT people to get the ball rolling again. Hopefully that will get you Google authenticated soon!

Districts already authenticated include Indian Lake, Lake George, Whitehall, Bolton, Ballston Spa, WSWHE BOCES, and Fort Ann. Saratoga is Follett authenticated, and your IT is looking at improving the process through Microsoft authentication, if they haven't already. Saratoga folks should ask your IT if you have any questions.

Q: I can't find my school in those squares when I try to "find my school". How do I get to my school?

UPDATE: try going directly to the URL for the easiest way to get in. If you're using the app and get the squares, read on...

A: The current process is confusing, but Overdrive is working to eliminate confusing/redundant steps.

Here's the secret: it doesn't really matter which one of those squares you click on, as long as they are a WSWHE region school. What matters is getting to the screen with the drop-down menu. on "I have an access code" at the bottom and type "wswhe" on the next page, to get to the drop-down menu.

The good news is that users generally don't have to repeat those confusing parts once they get in. If you have any questions, email or call us and we can help walk you through. Once you can Google authenticate, that makes the process easy peasy.

Q: Why do I have issues clicking on ebook links in my catalog?

A: Honestly, for the best experience, use the Sora/Overdrive platforms to access titles whenever you can, especially new titles. As we experience growing pains with Sora and Overdrive, your catalog may not be the best way to access these titles for a variety of reasons:

1. The Overdrive catalogs are now combined, so there may well be titles in Sora that you can't see in your catalog that you have access to, because Overdrive materials in catalogs may not be up-to-date.

2. Titles sometimes expire, so if a link doesn't work, it might be an expired title. That is set at the publisher's level, unfortunately. Some expire after a certain number of checkouts; some expire after a certain length of time. We receive alerts about metered titles and re-purchase if it's a title that gets checked out, but if it doesn't show any activity, we might let it lapse.

3. If you are a Follett library who usually has your Overdrive materials in your catalog, let us know. If you are a Saratoga school, Lucas Manny has reached out to us regarding Sora/Overdrive and is working on making the process with your catalogs as seamless as possible.

4. If you are an OPALS library, we are waiting for OPALS to release an update that includes the ability to push content, which is an update they are working on right now. Currently, any Overdrive titles would have to be loaded independently into up to 56 catalogs, which is a cumbersome process, and some librarians don't even want the ebooks in their catalogs because it causes confusion. We're hoping to have the push update soon!

Now that the BEDS form asks only for you to report how many titles you have in your catalog, print or otherwise, that adds another layer to the conversation...

Q: I want to access Sora, but the button in my waffle is for Overdrive. Can I access Sora?

A: YES! You can go directly to Sora anytime, even if you are Google authenticated. Just access it via its URL or click on the app. If you are an OPALS school, there is a Sora button on the home page of your library catalog that you can use. Hint: if using the browser interface, encourage folks to bookmark the page or add it to their toolbar.

Q: Why isn't there a Sora button in the G Suite waffle?

A: Hopefully the Overdrive button will be a Sora button in January! Overdrive is working on that.