Category Archives: eReaders in the School Library

My Library This Christmas

Books are Snow Wonderful Bulletin Board

It’s “Share the Gift of Story” this week, with readers from the community coming in to read to K-Gr. 9 library classes. It’s so great for the kids to see that it’s not just school staff and parents who enjoy reading stories. Our local RCMP really get in on the act with several constables joining in the fun this year. Perfect way for the kids to meet the local police officers too!

Easy Street decorated for Christmas with New Fireplace

A long-time participant, whose grandchildren are now in school noticed a couple of years ago that the YouTube fireplace video that I put on the Smart Board behind the readers was a little pathetic. It couldn’t be seen well, it distracted the kids as the tender rustled logs and it often froze. This year, this kind gentleman brought in our very own electric fireplace to lend ambiance to our seasonal program and story time throughout the year. What a wonderful gift!

The Circulation Desk with Christmas Tree

Our Grade 6 class decorated the library. Doesn’t it look great?

The big project on the go is a wonderful collaboration cooked up between our local public librarian, Nancy Keough and me. It all started, more or less, with my not being able to work out how to offer e-books to our students. I get my own, personally through the public library system along with a plethora of other resources that aren’t available to us otherwise. Some of our students do have memberships but the majority do not. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had access to all the wonderful things they offer?

Nancy took the idea to the library board, who generously offered us a great deal on public library memberships for the entire school! All staff and students. Our administration gave the go-ahead and four local business have helped to fund it. We’re just collecting forms now and are hoping to have everything in place now.

For more about the membership project, the sponsors and a few other things around the library, see my December newsletter.

Other than that I’m finding myself with a little time to clear up my desk and check off some of those stickier tasks on my to-do list. Next week will be our last week before the break and I’ll read to library classes from my selection of Christmas favourites.


After that, it’s focus on family (and shopping and cooking and wrapping and crafting) for 2 whole weeks! I wish you all a great holiday, if that’s what you’re in for as well and if not, enjoy December wherever you are.


Filed under Education, eReaders in the School Library, Library Class, Library Programs

You Might Like Books Better, But Your Brain Doesn’t Care

A recent paper at PLOS ONE postulates that although you may subjectively prefer to read from printed paper, it actually takes no more effort for you to get just as much from reading on an e-reader or tablet.

Figure 2. Ratings for the pleasantness of reading (choice of preferred reading medium) in absolute numbers of answers. 

For those of us in schools it’s interesting to see the differing results from young adults and explanations of that difference.

From the abstract:

“In the rapidly changing circumstances of our increasingly digital world, reading is also becoming an increasingly digital experience: electronic books (e-books) are now outselling print books in the United States and the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, many readers still view e-books as less readable than print books. The present study thus used combined EEG and eyetracking measures in order to test whether reading from digital media requires higher cognitive effort than reading conventional books….Our findings thus indicate that people’s subjective evaluation of digital reading media must be dissociated from the cognitive and neural effort expended in online information processing while reading from such devices.”

Read the rest of this open access, peer reviewed paper:

Subjective Impressions Do Not Mirror Online Reading Effort: Concurrent EEG-Eyetracking Evidence from the Reading of Books and Digital Media

Via Library Link of the Day


Filed under Education, eReaders in the School Library, Reading

Sunday Selection: a Mishmash

20-Year-Old Hobbit Pub in Southampton threatened with legal action by US movie lawyers.

Mr. Library Dude’s delightful list of 10 things …They Didn’t Tell You About Being a Librarian

SLJ’s App Review: Best of Apps & Enhanced Books (February)

Pick Your Monopoly: Apple or Amazon from the Washington Post

Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany – Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years.

In case you haven’t heard yet…from March 2nd – Necessary Evil? Random House Triples Prices Of Library E-Books

An inspiring Media specialist turns up enthusiasm at library

Should Libraries Get Out of the eBook Business? from Librarian by Day

A List of Free Apps for Students with Hearing and Visual Impairment from Education Technology and Mobile Learning

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Filed under Education, eReaders in the School Library, Humour, Library Management, Online Resources

Valuable Professional Development

A couple of times each year on our district professional development days, the library staff from most of the 13 schools in my district get together. For the last two years, we have been meeting at each others’ libraries, a practice that we have found to be invaluable. I’ve decided to share our day here to summarize for my group as well as to suggest to others that if you are not already (1) getting together with other library people and (2) taking advantage of professional services available to you (in our case through our regional library), then you really ought to consider both. My only regret is that I didn’t take pictures to share. Next time I will.

On Friday, we spent the morning at Fort Assiniboine School library, which is a combined school and public library serving the K-9 school, the village and much of the very large Woodlands County. The partnership works very well, with the county providing such faithful support that the school benefits from a very attractive, well-stocked library with a full-time manager and part time clerk. A large-screen TV sits above a Wii station in a comfy den-style alcove. (Unfortunately, if you weren’t there, you’ll have to use your imagination since I didn’t take pictures.)

After a good chat with everyone as they arrived, we enjoyed a tour of the school, discovering a gorgeous hand-crafted tree-house reading-loft in the Kindergarten room (how I wish I had brought a camera) among the always unique and inspiring classrooms and common areas. (It was especially fun to see the graduation photo of one of our group members who attended the school a few years ago).

(Because I couldn't go any farther without a picture.)

Returning to the library, we then settled in to talk about e-readers and the learning commons concept with Yellowhead Regional Library consultant, Jocie Wilson. Before we got started Elaine Dickie from Barrhead Elementary, brought up the possibility of sharing subscriptions for journals like School Librarian and School Library Journal. The discussion led to the idea of asking YRL, through Jocie, to put together a package of journals including the above plus Quill & Quire, Resource Links and others, that could rotate through our schools by inter-school courier before being sent back. Elaine will compile a routing list.

Library manager, Louise Davison had closed the library for the day, but while we were there she admitted several patrons to browse while we continued on with our meeting in the middle of the library. Her words on my query about being closed were: “They have driven 20 kilometres to get here. We’re open.” That’s library service.

Jocie showed us some images of school libraries he had recently toured in Edmonton, that in many ways exemplified learning commons. We saw libraries that were the centre of their schools and were open, accessible, flexible and indispensable to students and teachers. I was surprised to learn that teacher-librarians managed these libraries, two of only six in the Edmonton public school system. One, however, was only half-time in the library, with no assistance, and the other was seldom in the library at all, doing team-teaching for research projects with mobile laptop labs in classrooms, while a library technician managed the library.

Jocie brought some e-readers to look at and we discussed the dismal progress of affordable solutions for schools in purchasing multiple copies of eBooks or utilizing Overdrive. Jocie described cloud solutions coming online recently, where a fixed number of e-books could be purchased and downloaded on any number of devices. Because of the inflexibility of titles available in any given ‘cloud’, (no access to new or otherwise requested books), this would only be worthwhile, in my opinion, if the cloud contained all titles commonly accessed for novel studies in all grades in Alberta.

We had a wonderful lunch provided by the Fort Assiniboine Public Library Board after which we reassembled at Barrhead Composite High School library, which serves Grades 7 to 12. We all stopped at the ‘Great Books’ display, where Library manager, Hilda Froese deceives trendy teens by displaying hidden gems among new books, ensuring their discovery and inevitable check-out.

With shelving angled in a pleasing design for maximum line-of-sign at the edges of this large and cheerful space, there is plenty of room in the centre of Hilda’s library for tables, where we participated in a 10-minute-read exercise with numerous graphic novels that Jocie had brought to show us. She gave us a book-talk guide and instructed us to examine the front and back covers, any summaries or blurbs we could find, then read the first chapter or 10-20 pages, a small section in the middle and at least a few pages at end.

This was a challenge for me. I chose Black Butler by Yana Toboso, a black-and-white manga, which happened to be #5 and chapters 20-23 of the series. Now, I can negotiate an Archie comic with the best of them, but I have to admit that I have completely neglected my manga-reading skills. I gathered that it was set in India during British colonialism and was about a cooking contest. Somebody got tied up in the middle of the book, but must have been freed because the good-guys won. I couldn’t think of any of my students who might be interested in it.

After we had all given our brief book talks, Jocie commented that although she had had a similar reaction to Black Butler, she had recently encountered a group of students who informed her that it was the best series ever! Just goes to show that hockey players shouldn’t try to choose toe-shoes for ballerinas. Listen to your students!

Below are some of the other books reviewed and recommended. Click on any image for the GoodReads page with reader reviews.


All in all, it was a productive, rejuvenating and affirming day. Being isolated, as we nearly all are in one-person libraries, we all get feeling that no-one knows what we do. There is no one with whom to discuss our successes and challenges. When we get together like this, we find others who can relate, who can admire and commiserate. We learn so much from each other and appreciate our YRL consultant lending her expertise to keep us on track and motivated.

But next time, I’m going to bring a camera. Oh, right. Next time is to be in my library.

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Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators, eReaders in the School Library, Library Management

Sunday Surfing Selection – e-Readers &Tablets

I collect so many great links that I want to share, that I thought I would copy the idea of many bloggers and create a weekly link dump. (And I can’t resist a corny alliterative title.) If you have or are thinking about e-Readers or tablets in your library you will find a very helpful selection of resources in this week’s collection.

Unshelved (Click)

The Truth About Tablets: Educators are getting iPads and ereaders into students’ hands—but it’s not easy goes into detail about the sticking points in the issue.

E-Books and Libraries: 25 Resources Collections, Purchasing, Vendors, Controversy and Miscellaneous.

Penguin Ends E-Book Library Lending And Relationship With OverDrive…at least until it finds a new partner. Also read Amazon’s Kindle Plays A Part In Penguin’s Library Decision.

Announcing OverDrive Help as of February 14th, OverDrive Help will contain ” hundreds of newly-written help articles covering everything users need to know to enjoy eBooks, audiobooks, music and video from your digital collection.”

The International Children’s Digital Library whose goal is “a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world.”

58 Sites for Digital Storytelling Tools and Information Information & Online tools

Best Kids’ Book Apps of 2011 Reviewed selections for toddlers through teens, from traditional titles to new creations just for tablets.

Goodbye Textbooks, Hello iPad “A technology shift is under way. The PC’s promise to transform how learning happens in the classroom is being realized by Apple’s iPad.”

ICT Magic just won a Best Education Wiki award for being “a truly inspiring collection of IT resources for students and teachers”.

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Filed under Education, eReaders in the School Library, Online Resources, Technology

Ludite or Sage? Jonathan Franzen warns ebooks are corroding values

Jonathan Franzen at the Cartagena festival: 'All the real things are dying off.' Photograph: Stringer/Colombia/Reuters

For serious readers, Franzen said, “a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience”. “Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change,” he continued. “Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball. But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”

Read the rest of the article at The Guardian

Via Library Link of the Day

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Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Technology

Are Secret Deals Keeping eBook Prices High?

The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust arm said it was looking into potentially unfair pricing practices by electronic booksellers, joining European regulators and state attorneys general in a widening probe of large U.S. and international e-book publishers.

Read the rest of the story at the LA Times.

The publishing industry has been struggling for some years. I want it to survive with health and diversity. But…

Is is ever right to save an industry by cheating?

Via Library Link of the Day

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Will the book you read yesterday be available tomorrow?

Browsing last night I came across a wonderfully positive article, Platt Middle School’s library using Nooks to get kids reading.

“I’m reading a lot,” he said. “It’s a lot easier than lugging a big book around and you never lose your page. I like how it’s new, but it still looks like a book page. It’s really cool.”

The Nook has a text-to-speech feature that I really wanted for struggling readers and the Kobo does not, but the Nook is not available in Canada. Nevertheless after reading the article, I though, That’s It,! I’m going to bite the bullet, get some gift certificates, start buying popular books for my Kobo, and then get in line for some funding for some more of these little gems. It’s time.

There was one sentence that made me squirm a little. Platt has 50 eReaders and has uploaded 28 different books on each one. “Just” two Nooks have been broken so far. That’s 56 books! Even if they only averaged $5.00 per book, that’s $280 plus the cost of the reader! Yikes! That’s a little scary. I don’t think I could in good conscience charge a student five to six hundred dollars for breaking a ‘book’.

So, I’m back to caution again, when I come across eBooks on Fire by Charles Hamaker.

Ubiquitous web and print ads tell individuals and libraries to “buy” ebooks. But long-term preservation and retention rights to stable content are not the norm, because many resellers and vendors don’t possess those rights from the publisher or author. Instead of true ownership, most ebook “purchases” are more like leases, and leases with few residual rights at that. The only way to assure continuing access and storage for an ebook is a permanent download to a device with rights not governed by strict DRM (Digital Rights Management) systems. With content delivered from a hosted service on the web (aka the cloud), the “purchaser” has no control over the content. Even Google Books bears the disclaimer:

‘[I]f Google or the applicable copyright holder loses the rights to provide you any Digital Content, Google will cease serving such Digital Content to you and you may lose the ability to use such Digital Content.’

The extensive article lays out several issues with eBooks including the publisher’s right to modify the contents.

The ability to modify the published text without notification, tracking, versioning, archiving, or any other means that might provide the original text for readers is destructive to the tradition of the history of the printed word and the tradition of Western scholarship.

Hamaker makes a point of one of the major issues for libraries: the license under which eBooks are purchased. He uses as an example from Simon and Schuster.

S&S (Simon and Schuster) grants you a limited, personal, non-exclusive, revocable, non-assignable, and non-transferable license to view, use, and/or play a single copy of the Materials and download one copy of the Materials on any single computer for your personal, non-commercial, home use only,

Libraries would be expected to purchase institutional rights.

Hamaker discusses issues of confidentiality,   archiving, borrowing and lending rights (which has implications in the economic divide) and and points out how libraries must be aware of the difference between buying a digital material and printed books, which can be in the collection as long as it they are required.

Who owns the book? Ebooks are a challenging area for libraries. Licensing is a critical issue because ebooks are being marketed as if they were analogous to print purchases. They most definitely are not. They can be available one day and gone the next.

This article is a must read for all libraries considering the eBook issue and further supports my feeling the decisions must be made and policies put in place at the school district level before our libraries can safely venture into the eBook market.

Note: I’ve added a category for eReaders in the School Library for those who want to see all posts relating to this vexing issue.

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Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Rethinking My Library

eReaders in our School Library: Just a Fantasy?

Two or three times a year the library managers in our district have a chance to get together on professional development days. For the past 2 years we have been rotating our meetings throughout the thirteen schools. On Thursday I happily drove the 130 kilometres (81 miles) round-trip to the Neerlandia and Barrhead libraries in the very centre of our district (map). It is always inspiring to visit other libraries and talk with people facing similar joys and challenges.

Our hosts arranged for Jocie Wilson, our regional library (YRL) representative, to give us presentations on read-alouds for Christmas, which I will show in a separate post, and on how we are going to use eReaders in our library.

To commemorate their 45th anniversary, YRL recently gave each of our libraries a Kobo Vox. We were all thrilled to receive them, excited but completely in the dark about how our school libraries can offer them as a service to our students and staff despite having considered many factors as described previously in another post.

How we might use eReaders in our school libraries

  • Many copyright-free books are available; the eReader could be used to house up to 2000 books that otherwise would not be purchased by the library.
  • eReader could be used by the Resource teachers for one-on-one reading with struggling and reluctant readers
  • As best sellers can be available for purchase on same day the print book is released, the readers would be a great draw for teens who are eagerly awaiting a particular title.

Jocie went through the set-up and elaborated on the benefits and challenges, which seem to be steadily mounting, possibly precluding their use in our district  for the time being.

Challenges to eReader service in our school libraries

  • Administrative access to school computers is required to download and manage Kobo Desktop (KD) and Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software and the frequent updates. Most of our library staff do not have these privileges.
  • eBook loans on Overdrive are licensed for personal use only, precluding legal lending to students
  • Publishers have learned from the music world and are going to great lengths to use eBooks to recover their struggling industry. Harper Collins has authorized eBook purchases of their books for 26 reads only and now Penguin has suspended eBook sales to Overdrive customers until they finalize a similar policy. Other publishers are likely to follow suit.*
  • New eBooks do not cost any less than their print counterparts despite the lack of printing costs.
  • School credit cards are not available, making eBook purchases awkward, best done with gift certificates purchased through Kobo, Chapters/Indigo etc.
  • Individual eBooks have to be purchased for each Reader. There has been talk of loading class sets of eReaders with all possible textbooks and novel studies for that grade, but if an eReader is lost or destroyed, every purchased book that was on it is gone.
  • Wireless on readers has to be locked to prevent borrowers from resetting
  • A single account can be held on up to 5 computers
  • Each eReader requires its own account on KD and ADE
  • …and niggling a bit…the ADE application is a bit glitchy

So what are we to do now?

I am luckily to have admin access to my computers, so I set up the Kobo the day I received it. I have loaded free books and read a few, familiarizing myself with using it. I like the dictionary, highlighting and notes features and can see value for students. I’m planning on loading it up with free books for now and casually scoping out potential uses. I’ll have it in the library and perhaps offer it to students who are not settling during their class silent reading time.

At the least, it might keep them busy browsing the Kobo library.

Hopefully we will all be able to do this now after the IT people get them all set up. Then we’ll just have to hang tight until we figure out whether there might be some way we can pool our resources and work out solutions to the above challenges.

eReaders are a reality. They cannot continue to be just fantasy for our school libraries forever.

* For a great article on publishers and libraries see “9 Reasons Publishers Should Stop Acting Like Libraries Are The Enemy and Start Thanking Them” by Bobbi Newman.


Addendum:  January 15, 2012 As demand for e-books soars, libraries struggle to stock their virtual shelves, Washington Post. Thanks to Stan for this link.


Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Rethinking My Library, Technology

Buying eBooks ~ Some Great Advice & Questions that need to be answered

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.

A Guide to Ebook Purchasing by Sue Polanka (Via iLibrarian) helps to clarify some of those questions.

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.”


Filed under eReaders in the School Library, Library Management, Technology