May 29, 2022

Minneapolis/St.Paul: Metro Libraries, Patrons Unload on Audiobooks Full of Glitches

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

More than 100 metro-area libraries serving about 2 million users depend on one provider of digital audiobooks, but there’s a problem: The company’s technology is so plagued with glitches that one county library system temporarily suspended the service and another will be launching a separate service in February.

“We hate, we absolutely hate that the customer service we’re providing right now is not working or variable,” said Chris Olson, executive director of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), a consortium of 103 libraries. “We know that’s poor service.”


Recorded Books LLC, the company that provides the service, has a storied past with libraries across the country for providing books on tape, books on CD and now digital audiobooks that download onto computers and devices such as iPods and MP3 players. A software change in mid-2011 in the platform that delivers the content has caused headaches across the metro.


Recorded Books CEO Richard Freese was upfront about the problems and apologized in a recent interview. He also acknowledged that the company fell behind on technical support because of the volume of problems.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.