Web. 2.0 Tools: Zamzar

Over the course of time, software products are sometimes updated, sometimes left unsupported, or sometimes get left behind by newer, more innovative products. All of these software products however, have one thing in common; they leave behind millions of files, which contain words, audio, video or images. Some of these files are years old, and the programs that created them may no long work on the computers of today. Some of these files, while newer, may not be compatible with other operating systems that they were not created on (Mac vs. PC.) Or they may not be compatible with other programs used to created them on the same platform. The 2.0 World is all about collaboration and sharing, and people want to exchange content (in whatever form) with each other, or simply be able to view it for themselves. Only they can’t because this babel of formats do not speak with each other. There are programs that can translate and convert files, but they must be downloaded to your computer, and are usually uni-functional (will only convert document files, or video files, etc.) Wouldn’t it be great if there was one program to convert any type of file, online, and it was free to use? There is. Zamzar.

Zamzar is the Rosetta Stone of file conversion programs, converting documents, images, music, video and compression formats, all from your browser’s bookmark bar, with file conversions sent to your personal email account. Zamzar can convert your files into the following formats:

Documents: doc, html, mbd, ods, pdf, rtf, xls, xml
Images: gif, ico, jpg, pcx, ps, png, tga, tumbnail, tiff, wbmd
Music: ac3, flac, m4a, mp3, mp4, ogg, wav, wma
Video: aac, ac3, avi, flac, ipod, mdx, mp3, mp4, mpg, ogg, vav
Compression: tar.bz2, cab, izh, tar, tar.gzh, yzi, zip

Zamzar also can convert files from links on the Internet (urls) as well as from your computer. Drag the Zamzar button to your browser’s bookmark bar, click it and Zamzar will send the converted files to any email address you designate, using a simple 4 step process. Step 1, select the file (or url) to convert. Step 2, choose the format to convert to. Step 3, enter your email address. Step 4, agree to Zamzar’s terms of service. That’s it. (To see a video of the process in action, visit Zamzar)

There are many libraries already using Zamzar in a variety of ways. The Ebling Library of Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, serving the Medical and Nursing Schools, uses Zamzar to convert medical photographs, illustrations and electron micrograph imagery into formats that health care providers, faculty, students, biomedical researchers and consumers can use in the course of their work and studies.

The Monroe County Library System in Michigan, uses Zamzar to convert audio files when its patrons are having trouble downloading audiobooks.

The Lakewood Public Library in Ohio, added Zamzar to its “Quick Links” on the library home page, (along with Babelfish, E-Bay, Yahoo Finance and Zillow) as its default tool for file conversion. So have the Oregon Library Instruction Wiki, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, and Millsaps College in Jackson, MS.

Zamzar is a must have utility that has so many uses in any library setting. Pictures taken on cell phones can be converted for viewing on Ipods. Videos can be converted for YouTube and Google Video. Patrons can use Zamzar to convert old text files for printing. Although files are limited to 100 MB, Zamzar can convert more than one file at a time for you. Most important, however, is that Zamzar is free, can be accessed from the library or at home, and is a strong marketing tool for the library. Non-tech savvy library users will especially appreciate that the library is providing file conversion as a service, and is something that these users cannot get on their own. Library users will begin to see that the library still has many things to offer, not just as a place to check out books or read the latest newspapers and magazines. Zamzar keeps the library RELEVANT, regardless of user age or experience.

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~ by bassperr on October 19, 2007.

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