A few weeks ago, libraries in my school district were each given a Kobo eReader by our regional library in celebration of their 40th anniversary. As eReaders have been on my wish list for some time I was thrilled to take it home and get to know it: learning how to use it and pondering its use in my library.
I discovered that there are many questions I have to answer before I consider purchasing more and establishing them as a student service.
Why do I want eReaders in my library?
“What are the primary goals of purchasing ebooks in your library or your consortium? Is it to expand the collection or to increase the buying power of a group of libraries? Is it to replace existing print collections, offer new services, or experiment with new business models in the hope of saving money? Whatever the reason, it is imperative to keep one’s goals in mind throughout the process.”
How am I going to use them?
Polanka also discusses the complexities of costs and licensing, and the variety of business models: “one book/one user, multiuser, unlimited simultaneous use, subscription, patron-driven acquisition, and short-term loan (aka pay per use)”.
How will I load books on to them?
How will we access books through Overdrive? Is is available through our regional library, or will the school district have to be involved? Should we purchase books as individual schools, or will there be an advantage to purchasing as a school district collective? Polanka:
“Ebooks can be purchased directly from publishers, through aggregators (vendors that distribute content from multiple publishers), or wholesalers (vendors that distribute print and electronic content from publishers and aggregators). Keeping their prime directive in mind, libraries should investigate the opportunities and challenges of purchasing ebooks from all vendor types.”
In an earlier post: SLJ Warns that School Libraries will Need to Organize for eBook Purchases, school district level purchasing seemed clearly the way to go although our school district does not have a single overseeing librarian, only an informal network or library staff. Furthermore, Polanka warns that, “Within a consortium, however, this problem is exacerbated by the number of libraries involved. As a result, the unique needs of libraries may not be met by group purchases”.
Together We Will Get Some Answers
I’m excited that at our next professional development meeting, our district library group has decided to focus on getting some answers to these questions.
“Transitioning to ebook purchases in libraries offers many opportunities and challenges. These challenges, however, are not insurmountable… The most important thing that librarians must do in this changing environment is to articulate clear ebook purchasing goals. With these goals in mind, libraries need to find the content they desire, seek the best price possible, determine sustainable business models, analyze license agreements, and evaluate vendors to effectively purchase ebooks.”