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E-readers in the Library and Classroom: Kindles? Nooks? iPads? Who knows?

In the May 2011 issue of School Library Journal, the results of the annual technology survey were published.  The survey reflected the rapidly changing role of technology in the school library.  One of the hot topics on the survey was e-books and e-readers.  About one third of the respondents already have e-books as a part of their collection and well over three-fourths of respondents plan to add e-books in the next 5 years. Even with that lofty percentage of libraries who plan to have e-books, almost half of the respondents said they have no plans or priorities for e-books in the next two years. The two main reasons people listed for not having e-books is lack of funding and lack of devices to support e-books.  It’s also confusing and frustrating to compare Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and the many other devices to figure out which one is right for your library and which one supports which e-book format.

I’ll admit it.  For the past three years, I’ve continued to try many technologies in my library and continued to spend the majority of my budget on print materials with little planning going into the e-book realm.  I’ve watched as other librarians (Buffy Hamilton, Jennifer LaGarde, Kathy Parker, and more) have plunged into the unknown to be leaders for the masses on how to implement e-readers and e-books in the library.  Over the past year, I’ve really focused myself on where I might go in an elementary library with e-readers.  I’ve attended webinars, joined the edukindle ning, and extensively read the blogs of educators and librarians giving e-readers a try.  During all of this, I finally started the process of planning for e-books and e-readers in my library.

To tackle the funding issues, I’ve written three grants (awaiting approval), submitted a Donors Choose project (you’re welcome to donate), and asked my PTA for support.  When I started talking to PTA, I was energized by the amount of interest from parents to get e-readers into our library.  They encouraged me to keep applying for grants but also to submit a proposal to PTA.  At the May PTA meeting (which I was not even at), the idea of e-readers was brought up, discussed, and unanimously approved even before my official proposal was in their hands.  However, they needed to spend the money that they allocated in this year’s budget, so my year of thinking had to finally mold into a real plan.

Here are some things I decided:

  • We will start with 6 Nook Colors.  Why Nook Color?  Because it allows me to reach all of my student from preK-5th grade, is user-friendly with its touch screen, is more than just an e-reader, and it’s from a company that I can talk to locally.  Barnes and Noble has been extremely supportive with every question I’ve had and have even offered to come in and help show students how to use the Nooks or let us borrow some Nooks to try out before we buy them.
  • We will start out as book clubs/book groups before Nooks get checked out.  These groups will allow me to show students the full potential of what the Nook can do while at the same time building some confidence and responsibility with the devices.  Once I have several students who know how to use the devices at each grade level, I’ll begin checking them out for use within the school.  At this time, I have no plan for sending Nook Colors home with elementary students, but if the program grows and we get some Wi-fi Nooks, this will probably change.

Here are some problems I had to work through already:

  • Gift cards:  Every person who uses e-readers in school has to work through this problem somehow.  To purchase e-books they must be purchased on a gift card or credit card.  Our district has a “no gift card” policy.  My secretary and I had long conversations with our district’s accounting department and repeated the same information numerous times in different ways until we finally got approved to purchase a gift card.  The key was that I promised I could show detailed receipts for each e-book purchased with the card.  Another key phrase that I used was that the gift card was “strictly for e-book purchases”.
  • Extended warranty/insurance:  If you buy a Nook, Kindle, etc. as a single user, you can purchase an extended 2-year warranty that protects you against drops, spills, etc.  However, Barnes and Noble will not sell you the extended warranty plan if your device is for multiple users.  Their reasoning is that if you are buying 6 Nook Colors and paying $55 each for extended warranty, then you could have just bought another Nook Color.  The manager of the local Barnes and Noble had conversations with the main office about this, but they were firm in their decision.  This is one of the main reasons that I’m not ready to send a Nook Color home with elementary students.
  • Credit Card:  You do have to attach a credit card to your account in order to activate your account.  Some districts use school/district credit cards.  Others us credit card gift cards such as AMEX or VISA.  At the moment, I’m using my own credit card to establish the account.  Before you take a huge gasp at that statement, I’ll point out that another great feature of Nook Color is that you can set a password on the device that must be entered before a purchase can be made.  This password needs to be extremely secure!  Once you establish your account, you load up to 3 gift cards onto your account and e-books are deducted from the gift card first before your card is charged.  It’s important to make sure that you always have a gift card balance before you make a purchase.  The  problem that I ran into right away is that the Nooks are automatically set to buy ebooks with one click.  You have to go into settings and the shop menu to set the device to ask for a password.  When I tested this out at first, I accidentally bought a book without having a gift card loaded yet, so I officially bought the first e-book for the Barrow library.  It was only $6.99, but I won’t make that mistake again!

There is already a buzz of interest at the school about the e-readers.  Teachers are asking what my plan is and are eager to send students to me.  The special education teacher has started researching how these devices can support her students.  The family engagement specialist is brainstorming how these devices might be used with parents in family engagement meetings.  Teachers and staff are wanting to check out the devices to tryout for themselves too.  When you launch into the e-book and e-reader world, it’s a huge plunge and many doors start to open that are unknown.  Just know that when you make the decision, there are many people to network with, many conversations being made public online, and many resources to reference.  It’s important for us to make all of our work public for one another to learn from, but with e-readers and e-books it’s even more important.  When we are transparent about our work, we support the learning of our global community.

Andy Plemmons
School Librarian
David C. Barrow Elementary
Athens, GA

http://www.clarke.k12.ga.us/webpages/aplemmons

Free Webinar: Comparison of eReader Device Options, January 11

*reposted with permission from Will DeLamater by Buffy Hamilton*

Hi everybody, and Happy New Year!

There is lots to tell you, so let me start with a reminder of the next webinar, a Comparison of eReader Device Options, that will be held next Tuesday, January 11, at 7:00 pm EST. Once again, there will be door prizes for any member of this Ning who has uploaded a profile photo or avatar image, so get in the game and join in the fun! Sign up for this session at the Ning.

We are also going to a new look for the site in the new year. Keep your eyes open for the changes, which should improve readability and keep things fresh. I am also debating if we shouldn’t rename once and for all as eBook Educators Group, as there is a lot more to what is going on than Kindles and Nooks. What do you think?

As many of you know, I have my own eBook publishing company called eReadia (see logo and link in sidebar). One of the most fun publishing projects we have been involved with is publishing a new children’s book by popular YA novelist Alan Sitomer. Well, Alan just got a new Kindle and really likes it. You can read his thoughts here, and you can learn more about his kids book (title: Cinder-Smella, A Timeless Tale of Stinky Feethere, and you can “like” the book on Facebook here.

I also want to introduce to many of you a new member of the eReadia team, Jeremy Rinkel, who is helping me manage the site and keep it up to date. We are just about to go over 600 members (woot!) and I thought we could use some extra elbow grease. Jeremy is a teacher in Effingham IL and a self-published author. I am sure you will get to know him in the weeks and months ahead. Jeremy has prepared the following contribution to this week’s letter, regarding password protection on ereaders:

Question: Can I password protect my ereader so students cannot download ebooks?

The password question is a very common question on the Ning regarding our students use of ereaders.

With the Kindle and most other ereaders, it is not possible to password protect purchases. The only ereader that has this option is theBarnes and Noble Nook. Below are the steps to password protect purchases on your nook.

In four easy steps you can password protect your nook from unauthorized purchases.

Step 1 click Settings on the touchpad at the bottom of the device
Step 2 click on “device”
Step 3 select “Enable purchase password protection”
Step 4 enter the password for your B&N account

You may also password protect access to your nook following these simple steps.

Step 1 and Step 2 same as above
Step 3 select “Enable pass code”
Step 4 create and confirm password

In fact, Will just wrote a post on this at his blog, which you can view here.

Getting Nooks Ready for Students

One of our members Marianna DeMott posted some great information on getting ereaders, specifically Nooks, into the hands of students.  You can access the post here.  This post focuses on steps of getting downloading books and things to think about the implementation of an ereader program at your school.

When implementing an ereader program in a library or school, proper checkout policies need to be developed.  I want to draw your attention to a check out form that was posted by Kathy Burnette.  This permission/checkout form was designed for the Nook, but could be applied to other ereaders as well.

eReaders in the News

The Sydney Morning Herald published an article discussing the possibility of ebooks taking the place of paper books.  Ereaders have the potential to transform the publishing industry as well as publication education.  What impact will ereaders have on the future of publishing and education?

On December 6th, Google launched Google eBooks, Google’s digital bookselling enterprise. An article in The Wall Street Journal reports that Google now has ground to compete with Apple and Amazon in the attempt to get the strong hold on the digital book business. I really like the concept of having a book accessible via my Google account on multiple devices anytime and anywhere. From what I understand, I will be able to begin reading where I left off, even if I change my reading device. Will content be limited? The answer is no according to Scott Dougall, Google Product Management Director. “The Google e-book store will have a full complement of competitively priced best sellers and contain a wide array of scholarly, scientific, and professional titles making it the largest e-book store on the planet”.

See you Tuesday!

Will DeLamater
Kindle, Nook, (and More!)  Educators