Save a File – Part 2: Downloading Files

It is one thing to use a flash drive to save a file that you create. But what about saving files that other people make? Maybe they’re photos on the Internet or a document someone emails to you. Can you download files (or anything) to the library computers?

The answer is yes and no – it all depends on what you’re downloading. If you’re talking about a program, answer is no. If it is a file, like a typed document or a photo, then usually yes.

This Q and A should clear up any ambiguity:

Q: “Can I download iTunes and use it on a library computer?”
A: No. iTunes is a program, like MS Word or Windows Media Player. Programs cannot be downloaded to public computers.

Q: “I have a photo someone emailed me. Can I download it and open it?”
A: Yes. In this case, the download is just a file being pulled from an email. We’re downloading it just to open it. That’s okay.

Q: “Can I download an Overdrive audiobook at the library?”
A: No. Overdrive audiobook program is not installed, so you cannot download the books to library public computers.

Q: “I have a computer program on CD/floppy disk. Can I use this on your computers?”
A: No. Programs cannot be installed on library public computers. You can open files, not programs.

Q: “Can I download a 1040 from the IRS?”
A: Yes. You should be able to retrieve and print most tax forms online. Certain forms, requiring duplicates or specific sizes, may not be available.

So, as a rule, files like photos or documents can be downloaded because you’re just getting them from the Internet and opening them. Things like programs cannot be downloaded because they have to be installed to work. If it has to be installed, it isn’t going to work on library computers.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: 

1. Test yourself – take the downloading files quiz. (Be sure you’re using Firefox or Internet Explorer or the link won’t work.)

2. You’re not finished yet! This is a three-part training. You must complete all three parts.

Go to Save a File Part 3


  1. jim says:

    I found it curious that the reason given in the tutorial for not being able to use Overdrive on public computers differed from the one given in the quiz. Of course, this is nit-picking and either answer is fine, but I would like to know more about the shared computers causing problems business. Does this just refer to licensing issues or the program? Are there any issues with multiple users on the same PC? (I haven’t investigated this on my own yet as my only encounter with the issue has been in this tutorial/quiz, so it may be the answers are in a faq somewhere.)

  2. Jenny says:

    That was an accident on my part, but I’m really glad you pointed this out. Both answers are correct, though. You have to have Overdrive’s special software to download an audiobook. This software is on all staff computers, but it is not on the public computers. So, that’s the first reason you can’t use library computers to get audiobooks. The reason in the quiz is from Overdrive’s website. I haven’t found a specific answer about why a public PC would be a problem, but I’ll email them and see if they can clear this up. Thank you for your great questions. Does anyone else have an idea of why the public computers would cause problems with audiobooks?

  3. Jesse says:

    There are tons of websites where mp3s can be downloaded without needing any special software, such as mp3 blogs, some myspace profiles, various music review sites, etc. now has mp3 downloads, for a fee, and they don’t require you to download any software. is a subscription music service, and I don’t think it requires any software. I’m sure there are a lot more sites like this. Walmart might even offer an online music service.

    As far as transfering the music to an mp3 device, I think a lot of these things operate like mass storage devices, like a flash drive. These would work on library computers.

  4. npljenny says:

    Thanks! Would you be willing to put together a short list of sites patrons might be able to use? I knew somebody out there was a download genius…

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