British Columbia’s Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium has released a whitepaper with valuable information for librarians and educators interested in learning how to best incorporate digital materials into their collections and curriculum.
Over the last few years there has been a growing segment of students and educators who have been exploring the use of E-Books and asking for them to be included within their School District Library systems.
Students are eager to read new materials using new technologies, utilizing features never available before. Many consumers are already buying E-Reader devices to use personally, and want these devices to also interface with their school library collections. Publishers are slowly releasing their books and resources into this digital landscape, offering readers the chance to consume E-Books in a format of their choosing, on a device of their own. Teacher-Librarians are being asked more and more about their E-Book offerings and are looking for advice on implementation, best-practices, recommended vendors and suggested usage.
When looking at offering new digital resources to your students, staff and patrons, it is important to move forward in a sustainable, manageable and valuable direction. Many of your patrons already have their own devices with which to read E-Books. Utilizing this as a first step is an easier way to start providing this digital content. As you provide more digital content, and can see which devices and services are working best and are most popular, this feedback can best guide the future steps of perhaps integrating E-Readers to lend to patrons and students that do not have their own devices.
Encouraging students and patrons to explore the “browser based” access to try and test out resources first, before committing to supporting E-Books on specific E-Readers, is an efficient way to move forward with very little risk. Districts should ‘test the waters’ to gauge how much demand is out there, by asking which devices interested patrons have, and which type of content is most desired. Teachers and Teacher-Librarians will be interested in both non-fiction and fiction, while most patrons and consumers will be primarily interested in fiction E-Books.
When you are ready to tackle this complex issue, make sure you know the language:
- Adobe DRM — A special form of Digital Rights Management, used by ePub files to handle security of the E- Book, from check-out and download to the end of the lending period, and subsequent ‘return’ of the E-Book
- Android — An operating system for smartphones, tablets and other special forms of computers that can install applications that perform various functions, such as an E-Reader.
- Amazon — An online web store that sells E-Books and E-Readers, such as the Kindle, and produced its own E-Book format, .AZW, and does not support the industry standard format ePub.
- Amazon Kindle — One of the specific E-Readers that Amazon web store manufactures and distributes.
- Apple — A technology company that produces tablet computers called the iPad2 that can run and install applications like E-Reader software
- Browser Based — Browser based access means that in order to view and read the digital resource, or E-Book, you need to be using a computer/laptop/tablet, or smartphone with a built in Internet Browser. None of the limited, low-end E-Reader devices support this type of consumption.
- Digital libraries — Digital Libraries are collections of resources, both fiction and non-fiction that are stored and distributed elsewhere and available to your patrons using their library credentials 24/7
- Distribution — Distribution is the process within which digital resources are stored, managed, protected and distributed to your patrons by a 3rd party.
- DRM — DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and is a set of security protocols that protect the digital artefact from being copied or unlocked for unlimited consumption.
- E-Books — E-Books are digital versions of traditional books that may take many different formats, and can be opened and read on many different devices, from simple E-Readers to full computers.
- E-Readers — E-Readers are specialized devices that can open and display E-Books that are small, lightweight and have exceptional battery life.
- ePub — ePub is the specialized file format that the majority of E-Books are published in, and is widely considered the industry standard for E-Books.
- Follet Shelf — Follet Shelf is a digital E-Book distribution system offered to school libraries who want to offer their patrons access to their digital collections of E-Books.
- iPad 2 — iPad 2 is a full tablet computer, manufactured by Apple Computers that can download and install specific applications that allow the user to view and read E-Books, both in E-Book format, or through browser based access.
- iPhone — iPhone is a smartphone, manufactured by Apple Computers that can download and install specific applications that allow the user to view and read E-Books, both in E-Book format, or through browser based access.
- Kobo — Kobo is another manufacture of E-Reader devices, from low-end to newer, multi-function E- Reader tablets. Kobo is also open and supports all industry standard E-Book formats.
- MOBI — Mobi is a version of the Open E-Book standard and can support many advanced features and digital content as an E-Book.
- MP3 — MP3 is a digital format that encodes music to a smaller and more portable format for use on digital devices.
- PDF — PDF stands for Portable Document Format and can be used to create personal E-Books that can be read on all major E-Readers and E-Reading applications
- Publishers — Publishers are the companies that contract authors to produce books which are edited, marketed, published, distributed and supported through many different channels, both digital and analog.
- Overdrive — Overdrive is a US based company that connects publishers and their digital content with Libraries, taking care of the storage, DRM, distribution and management of E-Book collections.
- Smartphone — A Smartphone is a new format of cellular phone that is similar to a portable computer, in that the user can install specific applications to perform various tasks, such as reading an E-Book, or exploring a digital resource through a built in internet browser.
- Tablet — A tablet is a slim, lightweight format for a computer, condensing the screen, tower, keyboard and mouse all into one slender format that is portable and capable of performing many computer based tasks, like reading an E-Book or exploring digital content through the built in internet browser.
- Vox — The Kobo Vox is a mid-range E-Reader from Kobo that has more functionality and multimedia capability that a low-end E-Reader, but not as powerful as a full tablet.
Learn more in E-Books, E-Readers and School Libraries (PDF).