Friday, April 12, 2013
At a recent district Librarian PLC (Professional Learning Community) my fellow librarians wanted me to the share secrets to the success of our small eBook usage. After leaving the meeting I thought about why our school had seen such an increase in our eBook usage. There is no magic formula other than what we do as librarians - sell the program. So here goes the story.
As I maneuvered through the school year in a new library position, I found myself setting monthly goals. In December I focused on our small collection of 105 eBooks as I noticed not one eBook had been checked out for the entire school year. I contacted all my English teachers and shared my plan for demonstrating "How to Check Out an eBook" during their next library visit. I also requested to allow students to bring in any device that had internet capabilities for the hands-on demo. As classes came into the library I had my laptop, iPad, and iPhone ready. During the demonstration I had nothing particularly fancy but highly encouraged everyone to participate. I enthusiastically mimicked the "but wait" commercial as I brought out each device. The eyes of middles school students were as wide as can be when they pulled out their phones, iPads, netbooks, and other devices. I began the demonstration with my laptop, smoothly moved to the iPad, and ended with pulling my iPhone from my back pocket. Watching the students engaged in the process was just amazing. Students were eager to master this lesson and they helped each other in the process. Some bigger questions came up that I handled. Teachers worked along with the students helping each other. We had mini celebrations as I watched the circulation status live and praised each student who checked out a book. Yes, by the end of the week I was one tired librarian.
I watched the status report grow and shared the data with faculty and students regularly. EBook usage spread throughout the school and when a faculty member checked out an eBook I gave a “shout out” either through my weekly emails, my monthly smore page, or at a faculty meeting. I bought donuts for the English teachers when we reached hurdles in multiples of 100. Our small school logged over 850 eBook transactions in 3 1/2 months. This data went on the school Facebook page, was posted on the school website, was tweeted on the school's twitter account, was discussed in the leadership meeting, and shared on the student announcement video. I just ordered about 200 more eBooks and I cannot wait to share the titles once they arrive.
Why did our school go viral with our ebook collection? I truly believe it has to do with an engaging activity that seemed "really cool” to the students. It was new, fun, and easy. I have trained my student aides to be the experts in checking out eBooks and they help train other students. There is nothing more exciting than to see student on student teaching and learning. I cannot give an exact formula for our success other then my enthusiasm, modeling, making it fun, and allowing the students to experiment. As I watched the usage over the weekends and holidays, I would share the progress via text messages with my principal and staff. It seems the more excited I became, the higher the reports reflected our eBook usage. My role as a librarian is changing ever so rapidly. I embrace the future and the change.