eBooks and School Library Collections

This year we decided to begin develop a collection of eBooks for our student collection.  This is an interesting activity since vendors are very interested in the school library sector. It appears that in this day and age publishers are still struggling with a vision of what reading looks like and how to monetize what we interpret as “book”.Ebook

I came to e-reading reluctantly.  I purchased a Kindle device about five years ago, fully expecting to hate it.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered how much I truly loved reading on this thing!  Not only could I carry my library with me, I could add to it whenever I wanted and I increase the font for my aging eyes. Gone were the days when I the most important packing for travel was the selection of books I would need for the length of my holiday.  Additionally, I could create my personal wish list online and purchase as I see fit.

Now in the context of a library collection I am doing the same thing. What I find challenging is selecting titles that give me the best bang for the buck in my ever decreasing library budget, while trying to balance multiple access titles with the traditional metaphor of “book” i.e. one to one lending. I understand that costs around the actual artistic creation of a book cannot change, but we do need to re-think the pricing of the digital content and some of strange ideas some publishing houses have about limits and pricing of content.

My question now is how to bring our schools into this century as we add digital assets to our collections and expect our students to understand them? There seems to be a general acknowledgment that our learners do learn differently in a digital age, their connectivity is something that is a given these days.  What we need to consider is how we increase the depth and breadth of their understanding of the digital resources we have to offer them and engage them in thinking critically about digital content? Especially when their teachers are equally as unfamiliar with these types of resources as their students?

I am working on a five year plan with these resources, investing annually in e-books, promoting them with students, teachers and administrators with the intent that at the end of that time frame they become an expected and highly utilized part of our collection.  I’m hoping to see a convergence of technologies to search and support our library collections to help us along the way. Hopefully, in five years I’ll be writing about our success!

Image courtesy of Randy Rogers licensed Creative Commons http://goo.gl/R22eXH