Thursday, December 8, 2011

E Books Through OverDrive Make Their Debut at My High School

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.

The issue of how, what, why, where, when & who of the eBook saga is a daunting one for many school librarians, one which I read, studied and pondered in preparation.  I followed the HarperCollins drama like my Nana use to do with her "stories", reading the blogs and articles as they posted that sent out a rallying cry  for boycotts and devising alternative means for bringing eBooks to their patrons.  I read about other school librarians like Buffy Hamilton, Wendy Stephens and Gwynyth Jones as they ventured into this new and uncertain territory.  I also absorbed the sage advice of Doug Johnson who I think in the end provided sound guidelines that helped me make my eBook lending decisions. ( In the end I had to put aside worries about willy-nilly publishers, digital rights, to purchase devices or BYOD, take the plunge and go with the choices that best fit the needs of my students, my school, and the community. 

I am fortunate to work in a school district that supports it's library programs and funds them well even in this time of proration at the state department level.  My school district understands that the funds allocated by the state for school libraries was and always has been meant to serve as a supplement to the funds allocated to school libraries by their local school boards. Unfortunately, many school libraries in Alabama have received ZERO funding for the last four years.

According to the Speak Up Survey last year over 70% of parents would be willing to purchase an Internet capable device for their child to use for educational purposes and our own District Technology Survey revealed that over 95% of our students already have access to Internet capable devices.  Teachers and students both had been bringing their smart phones, tablets, and other devices to school...they are not banned here.  Additionally, our public library took the eBook plunge this past summer creating the perfect segue for school libraries to follow suit. The time had come...the time was now.

In the end we decided to use OverDrive as our eBook provider for several reasons:
  1. To support our public library and use a format that the community was already familiar
  2. Based on surveys and observations a "Bring Your Own Device" option made sense, was cost effective and efficient
  3. OverDrive is an established leader in the eBook realm and as such better able to negotiate with publishers and ereader manufacturers as uncharted territory is mapped out and solidified (ie: HarperCollins, Penguin, Kindle, etc)
  4. Our students, teachers & community members expect access to the newest best sellers and OverDrive is best equipped to meet the needs of our patrons
Our OverDrive eBook program was introduced to students and staff this week along with the arrival of all of our brand new pretty print books as well.  For my teachers, I held a Web 2.0 Coffee chat session (we hold these once a month to intoduce new technologies in a casual, relaxed atmosphere) to show off our new books and train them how to use the OverDrive system for audio and ebooks. 

Students had been salivating over the new books as we processed them for circulation.  I let students rummage through the new books as we plodded through the processing task and let them put "Reserved For" stickers on the books for which they wanted first dibs. The day after the Web 2.0 Coffee Chat session for teachers all reserved books were delivered to students during their 1st Block classes.  This provided me the opportunity to quickly let classrooms full of students know about the arrival of new books and the OverDrive eBook program. 

Since then I have spent a good chunk of my day helping students and teachers with OverDrive and their personal devices.  My student library aides have also been spreading the word and assisting others with the download process.  I can say without reservation that the implementation of the OverDrive eBook Program has been an overwhelming success!


Library Media Handbook-page 29
Alabama. State aid for education has had a cumulative 18.5 percent cut in mid-year over the past two years. Due to the cuts, for the first time in recent history, the state has not absorbed 100 percent of the cost of increases to employee benefits. A portion of the cost of providing employee medical insurance was assumed by employees through increased premiums, co-pays and reduced benefits. Furthermore, there was no funding at all for instructional supplies, including textbooks. (CSALS 2010)
Other cuts included: 
  • Aid for basic school system operations
  • Student transportation
  • Instructional support such as teacher supplies
  • Teacher professional development
  • School library funding

(2) Library enhancement – an amount based on the number of earned teacher units, to be spent for books, cd-rom’s, computer software, computer equipment, audio-visual materials, newspapers, periodicals, recordings, video tapes, cataloging, and book repair in school libraries/media centers (currently $135 per teacher unit).

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