Saturday, April 12, 2014

Put the "e" in Your Books: Integrating Ebooks Into Your Library Part 2

It was an honor to present at TLA 2014 with Jo Ann Conlon , Karen Harrell, and Kay Land.  Together we were able to bring four very different perspectives of embedding, promoting, and implementing eContent into the school library program.  Below is the link to the presentation for anyone who attended or may be interested in this topic. Also, please take a look at ALA's link on Transforming Libraries, Ebooks & Digital Content.

Put the "e" in Your Books: Integrating eBooks into Your Library 
ALA Transforming Libraries, eBooks & Digital Content

Here is a brief account of my eBook journey plus the results of the Ebook survey that many took the time to answer a few weeks before TLA 2014.

My eBook journey began in 2006 and it was DOA (dead on arrival).  My role as a librarian was disinterested, the students had no devices, and the teachers didn't "buy into" the newly arrived digital content.  My second encounter was in 2011 and more enlightening to me as a librarian that I needed to revisit the eBook program.  So in 2012 when I took a library position in a district that provided 1:1 devices this was the opportunity I was seeking in reexamining an eBook program for the library.  With the 108 awesome eBooks acquired by the prior librarian, I delved into some basic programming with fantastic success.  At times I was astonished at the eBook circulation and I knew I needed to purchase more digital books for the collection.

Many have asked the formula for our eBook success and my answer is there is not one simple explanation.  In search of answers from other success stories, I turned to my PLN.  The adventure began with a simple Google form with some questions about eBook usage, device availability, and more.   With over 65 responses from some awesome school librarians I have compiled the data in graph form. Actually I wanted to play with making graphs in Google sheets and it has been quite easy.  So here's an analysis of the data. By no means am I stating that this is the norm in all school libraries but this is the data compiled from those who responded to the informal survey.

The first question asked about the school.  The majority of the responses came from individual schools with 4 entries summarizing the entire district.

The next data was interesting to see that almost 15% of those who responded had no eBooks in their collection while 85% had eBooks. 

In the next question I asked the librarian if they were satisfied with their eBook circulation.  14.3% responded they were satisfied while 85.7% indicated they were not.

The following question dealt with the types of devices and access available in the library. The vast majority allowed any type of device but many indicated filters were in place.  Some indicated the access and device type was dependent on the campus.

Vendors: The majority of the responses indicated the vendors of choice were Follett and OverDrive but here is the complete list of vendors from the survey.
  • ABDO
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Britannica
  • Capstone
  • Escue and Associates
  • Follett
  • Gale
  • Gareth Stevens
  • Infobase
  • MackinVIA
  • OverDrive
  • Perma Bound
  • Rourke
  • Salem Press
It was clear from the survey the key component for eBook success was the role of the librarian.  Here's an abbreviated list from the responses.
  • Librarian's Positive Role
  • Promotion, Advertising, and Marketing
  • The Use of Social Media
  • Providing Professional Development
  • Exposure
  • Devices - easy access to devices
  • Stall Bathroom Notes
  • Displays
  • Training for both Teachers and Students
  • Proactive Faculty
  • Teacher Support
  • Demonstration and Modeling
  • One to One Instruction
  • Collaboration
  • Visit from OverDrive

The list for problems in implementing a quality eBook program in schools was a reality that not all librarians experience the same pleasures. The problems included:
  • Lack of Device Availability 
  • Bandwidth and Wifi Issues
  • Cumbersome Process
  • Limited or No Home Access for Students
  • Small Uninteresting Collection
  • Lack of Advertising
  • Lack of Support from Staff
  • Lack of Time in Promoting
  • Integration Difficulties
  • Network Issues
  • Lack of Student Interest
  • Lack of Staffing
  • Comfort Zone Issues
  • Librarian Overwhelmed With Existing Responsibilities

The majority of those who responded seemed to have small eBook collections with only 21.2% libraries having over 1,000 eBooks.

Many that responded had less than 100 eBooks circulated in one month.  One district indicated it had 4,000-5,000 eBooks circulated district wide in a month.  

In reflection of the survey the most important element for eBook success was determined by the role of the librarian.  Those libraries with quality devices, good wifi, and large enticing digital collections seemed to have the most success with their eBook programs.  Success was achieved through promotion, teaching, demonstrating, and other factors.  The bottom line is that library programming is directly related to the "positive role of the librarian" who leads by example. As Jo Ann indicated in the session, it's ALL about getting our students to READ.  Know that your PLN is here to collaborate, advice, and help one another in this endeavor.  I know that digital eContent is here to stay in school libraries.  After my disastrous eBook beginnings I am fortunate for the opportunity to recognize that as a librarian I needed to revisit the the eBook program.  I hope to continue to experience more success with digital eContent in my school.  

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