Within the past couple of months, UMS students have had a new way to check out books from the UMS Library Media Center. They have had access to a "shelf" of e-books.
Three years ago, Hope Hix, UMS's Teacher Librarian, received a Kindle e-reader as an early Christmas present. She loved it, but soon realized buying Kindle books could get expensive. The following year, one student reported getting a Kindle for Christmas. This past year, though, was different. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble had dropped the prices of their e-readers - Kindles and Nooks. I-pads and other tablets were becoming more affordable. Students started bringing these devices to school. Many students had smartphones or iPods. They would download an e-reading app to their phone or iPod and read a book on it.
Hix ran a survey with the students. The results showed about a third of the students had access to either an e-reader or a tablet. About 3/4 of the students indicated they had a smartphone or iPod. Over 80% of the students indicated they would be interested in checking out e-books from the school library.
For UMS's first venture into e-books, Hix decided that they should not be "platform-specific" (just for Kindles or just for Nooks) but something that could be read on many platforms. She settled on Follett e-books because they offered a wide variety of e-books, easy access to the e-books, apps for use with tablets, phones, and iPods, and good customer service and tech support.
To check out an e-book from the Follettshelf, students open a web browser and go to the school's Follettshelf web address, or they can link to it from the middle school's media center web page. They then log in, using the log-in and password Hix has provided them. Students and teachers can search by genre, author, subject, lexile (reading level), or number of pages. Some books can be downloaded to a device; all books can be read on a computer screen. Many of the nonfiction books can be used simultaneously by many readers. Teachers will find this feature very helpful when having students research a topic. Many of the books have an audio component where the computer will read the book aloud while the student reads it silently.
So far, Hix is pleased with the usage statistics. Within three weeks, there were nearly 50 e-book circulations. This includes e-book checkouts and e-books read online. Hix hopes to increase the number of e-books UMS owns - especially fiction books. She also hopes to be able to purchase a few tablets for students to check out and use for e-reading.
The AEA has provided a shelf of mostly nonfiction books through their website, as well. All UMS students have access to that shelf, and they all have access to the e-books and audiobooks offered through the Dysart Public Library through NEIBORS.
All of these services make books accessible to students 24/7.