Obstacles to E-book Integration in School Libraries

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Audrey Wilson-Youngblood
SLIS 5720
Blog Post #3
Obstacles to E-book Integration in School Libraries
The enthusiasm from the world of school libraries has become contagious as publishers continue to develop and promote electronic books.  Adding these formats to a school’s collection opens the door to student patrons who find the electronic format to be more appealing than their traditional bound counterpart.  Whereas readers once browsed content and made selections by thumbing through the pages of a paperback, today’s teen readers are finding the accessibility, portability, and discretion of e-books to be ideal.  Despite enthusiasm from the general librarian population significant obstacles limit the potential e-books hold for library patrons and the collection.
NOOKcolor/ NOOK side-by-side

One obstacle that stands in the way of placing e-books in the hands of readers is the availability of digital reading devices.  In fact, 67% of librarians surveyed by School Library Journal, report that this is the biggest obstacle even over the cost of the e-books themselves (“Things are Changing. Fast,” 2011, p. 28).  A plethora of reading devices exist in the market:  Nook, Kindle, Sony, iPad, and numerous other devices.  Purchasing these devices can quickly deplete an already shrinking budget with prices ranging from $99-$600.  Linda Ashcroft (2011) suggests that librarians can learn from e-book suppliers and features such as “Open eBooks” that allows nearly any e-reader or software that can display EPUB and PDF files to display the text (p. 44).  Distributors such as Follett now provide e-books that are compatible with multiple devices and smart phones (Android, Apple, Nook, Kindle) and that can be accessed online.  Although libraries may not be able to circulate the devices themselves, publishers have taken a significant step towards improving accessibility of e-books by increasing compatibility to allow readers to use their own devices. This advent to the e-book market will allow more school libraries and districts to invest in e-books themselves rather than shying away from venture.  Personal device compatibility will be the key to successful school library integration. 
In addition to devices, librarians also reported digital rights management and competing platforms to be a concern (“Things are Changing. Fast,” 2011, p. 28).  With their e-book collections scattered among multiple platforms and questions of digital rights causing publishers to limit accessibility, librarians feel overwhelmed with the amount of hoops they have to jump through to put e-books in students’ hands.  Sixty-nine percent of respondents, according to Ashcroft (2011), report that the limitations for content usage is a significant or very significant hindrance (p. 401).  Digital rights management issues muddy the waters for many school librarians to the extent that the time and energy trying to understand the varying issues and perspectives outweights the possible benefits of integrating electronic books into their collections.

 Librarians are also faced with choices for their circulation.  E-books may be circulated “one person one book” or “unlimited access/ simultaneous use;”  58.5 % prefer unlimited access but 39% prefer a combination of both models (Ashcroft, 2011, p. 405).  Publishers continue to search for a sustainable and appropriate business model for e-books.  Maintaining flexibility and the option to customize services will be key to reaching the wide and diverse school library market.  Suppliers should support librarians efforts by providing simple platforms, bundling options, and circulation options as well as customizing products to meet the needs of a school and its collection. 
E-books accessed through personal devices such as smart phones

In contrast to SLJ’s survey, Ashcroft (2011) finds that the biggest limitation librarians report for e-book usage is reader awareness.  When respondents were asked why they didn’t use the e-book collection, the highest response was “I do not know where to find e-books” (p. 399) What was more concerning to Ashcroft was the librarian’s lack of awareness of readers’ needs, “users need to know that their library provides ebooks, then how to find them” (p. 399).  To overcome this obstacle librarians can again learn lessons from publishers who are offering events such as OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile that goes into communities to raise awareness (Ashcroft, 2011, p. 405).  A school librarian can take advantage of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to publicize e-book holdings, create video tutorials for accessing e-books using VoiceThread or host online chats to answer questions and book-talk specific titles in the e-book collections.  The more tools librarians utilize to reach student readers, awareness will grow and readers will seek out this special part of the school’s collection.

            Despite the rapidly evolving world of e-book technology, librarians continue to demonstrate their enthusiasm for the future of their collections.  In fact, in five years, librarians projected that “ebook penetration to increase 14-fold by 2016, to 7.8 percent” (“Things are Changing. Fast,” 2011, p. 28).  In order to get there, libraries will need to re-focus multiple resources to support e-book acquisition and usage.  Budgets, professional development, and initiatives will need reconsideration in order to provide funds, skills, and awareness.  For now, a keen awareness of what is available from vendors and publishers and a healthy “wait and see” attitude might be the best course of action while the many issues surrounding e-book integration continue to be refined.  Knowing when to act and when to wait will enable the school librarian to wisely and cautiously integrate the service into the school’s collection.

Ashcroft, L. (2011). Ebooks in libraries: An overview of the current situation. Library Management, 32(6), 399-407. doi: 10.1108/01435121111158547
Things are changing. fast. (2011). School Library Journal, 57(5), 28-33. Retrieved from http://libproxy.library.unt.edu:2103/login.aspx?direct=true&db=llf&AN=503013798&site=ehost-live&scope=site
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In Response to "Adventures with Cell Phones"

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Audrey Wilson-Youngblood
SLIS 5720
Module 4: Blog Post 2
In Response to “Adventures with Cell Phones”
Summary 
         Are student cell phones a nuisance or an asset in the classroom?  School boards, administrators, and teachers have gone to great lengths to prevent student use of cell phones from interfering with learning.   Sometimes, however, your greatest nemesis can become your closest ally. 
         The war against electronic devices in schools is a futile and misguided one.  We do not even hold ourselves to the expectation for students to silence, put away, and ignore their personal devices for eight hours.   Faculty meetings are the best example; the greatest perpetrators of cell phone use policies are teachers themselves.  As adults we have embraced and come to rely upon our personal devices to engage in the world.  Are teachers using their devices during meetings to engage in the content?  Usually not, although efforts could be made to incorporate their devices to raise engagement much along the same lines as students.
         In “Adventures with Cell Phones,” Kolb (2011) illustrates instructional practices where “a basic cell phone can be the Swiss Army knife of digital learning tools” (p. 41).  Integrating personal devices into instruction 1) increases the time spent on teaching and learning that occurs inside and outside of class and 2) facilitates learning anytime, anywhere at the student’s appropriate pace.  Not only is instruction more effective, but integrating students personal devices into instruction teaches them responsibility through mobile etiquette and the utilization of these skills in future professions. 
         As new technology is developed and marketed to education, district budgets, federal grants, and state funding are decreasing.  A race is on to become a “technology campus,”  but campuses are ill-equipped to supply every student with an iPad.  Student cell phones are free to the district.  Instructional practices that utilize students’ personal devices can be integrated using a basic device that has text-messaging and camera capabilities. 
One practice uses Google Voice as a quizzing tool.  Students call the teacher’s number, listen to a prompt, and then record their response.  The messages are archived and available for MP3 file download.  The teacher can then send a text message back to the student as feedback. 
         Other practices involve taking pictures on the camera phone to Geotag and create maps.  Digital storybooks can also be created using the camera on phones.  Yodio (yodio.com) allows students to create collaborative storybooks.   Other projects use apps such as Fickr and Photobucket to photo share.
         In addition to photos, students can interact with the curriculum through Classroom Response Systems at no extra charge to the school.  Two sites, Polleverywhere.com, Wiffiti.com, and Textthemob.com allow students to respond to polls, questionnaires, and surveys through text and then see the results live on the screen. 
         Before diving in and asking students to go straight to the cell phones during instruction, it is wise to provide some instruction on cell phone safety.  Kolb (2011) several specials, sites, videos, and references that help students examine and understand the special issues regarding cell phone activity.   When educating students on cell phone etiquette and safety, the teacher must become the mentor for appropriate use of personal devices in the school community. 
Digital Dossier YouTube Video of “Digital Footprints”

Library Integration
         Libraries as well as classrooms have the potential to expand students’ academic experiences.  Through the use of cell phones, students can tap into a myriad of resources and tools as readers and researchers.  QR Codes or smart tags can be used to allow students immediate access to information. 
A QR Code could be placed on a display of summer reading titles that links students to a review of one or more titles.   All the student needs to do to access the information is to scan the code using a free app such as Microsoft Tag.  New releases can be accompanied with a tag that takes students to the book trailer or author’s website.  Immediate access allows students to engage in reading as a lifelong habit.  One librarian goes so far as to post codes in the bathrooms, strategically pulling students, who may not step foot into the library, into an exciting story with one quick scan.  

         Another use of cell phones in a library includes using social media apps for readers such as Goodreads (http://goodreads.com).  The Goodreads mobile app has a feature that allows readers to scan a book’s barcode and automatically add it to a shelf.  During one ten minute trip to the library, a student could virtually stock his or her “to be read” shelf for months or add books they have read to their shelf for friends to peruse.  Goodreads also provides a place to explore lists, write and read reviews, and connect with authors. 
         Phones can also be used as personal storage devices with apps like Evernote.  As students research, they can take pictures of text, write notes, and email themselves documents to be collected in a “notebook.”  They can even share notebooks with collaborators.  Evernote is also accessible through the website (www.evernote.com) where students can download content to evaluate, synthesize, and publish their findings. 
         We seem to always be on the search for the next engaging tool or practice.  Rather than trying to re-invent the wheel and spend an enormous amount of time engaging students in classroom instruction, let’s use what students bring to the table—their digital lives—to create a dynamic, collaborative, and creative learning environment. 
For more ideas to engage students in reading visit the Nerdy Book Club blog post “Passive Aggressive Book Promotion.”
Reference

Kolb, L. (2011). Adventures with cell phones. Educational Leadership, 68(5), 39-43. Retrieved from http://libproxy.library.unt.edu:2103/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=58108037&site=ehost-live&scope=site

In Response to "Gender, Technology, and Libraries"

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In Response to “Gender, Technology, and Libraries”
Personal Response
As the fields continue to diversify and become more complex, it will be crucial that a balance of men and women professionals comprise the library sciences and informational technology professions.  However traditional they may have been,  IT and library departments will benefit greatly from an integrated workforce rather than perpetuating the gender disparity (Lamont, 2009). 
Lamont’s assertion that the lack of women in IT positions can be attributed to nature and perception accentuates the socio-cultural influence on women when determining a career path, often one that they place there themselves.  Societal “assumptions that family and home responsibilities will cause women to be less able to contribute” may be a driving force, but women in these roles perpetuate such a perspective and their presumptiveness becomes their greatest obstacle (Lamont, 2009, p.140). 
            Qualities of professionals in IT and library sciences may appear to be masculine and feminine:  hard work, commanding, driven, and competitive vs. instinctive, intuitive, innate, and nurturing (Lamont, 2009).  Perhaps these qualities can be pinpointed to specific male and female traits.  What cannot be undermined is the value all of these qualities contribute to every profession.  Therefore, it is a balance of personal traits, qualities, talents, and work ethic that should be considered when seeking to balance these professions, not necessarily X and Y-chromosomes.  
Until the culture is changed from within, traditional roles will be perpetuated.  Reevaluating, redefining, and rethinking these roles as technology continues to evolve will lead to a blending of these skills.  Lamont asserts (2009) “If managed properly, the best of classic library theory will combine with IT into a dynamic and diverse workforce as well as a thriving and innovative organization”  (p.141).
Technology Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis
As an educator, my greatest strength has been my ability and determination to continue my own learning journey.  When integrating new technology or exploring digital tools, I utilize technology as a resource to self-teach.  Tools such as YouTube, Google Videos, and subscription sites such as Atmoic Learning enable me to investigate, adopt, and implement a myriad of Web 2.0 tools and hardware.  I utilize colleagues and specialists in my district and networks to support my goals to integrate technology.
            In addition to my commitment to life-long learning, I’ve been fortunate to serve in a leadership role providing professional development to teachers, much of which was instructional technology.  My background, although in depth in many areas such as Mac hardware and applications, Promethean, and a few web-based tools, is not necessarily as broad as it could be.  A lack of breadth of knowledge might lead me to miss supporting teachers’ and students’ needs.  In order to improve upon this weakness, I hope to gain insight into resources that will diversify my technology knowledge base in hardware, software, and web-based tools.  My initiative and drive to keep learning will allow me to improve upon my weaknesses. 
Smart phone applications, in particular, are an area where I see tremendous potential for supporting digital students; however, I feel intimated by the sheer number that are out there let alone how best to determine their quality and usefulness.  Learning to utilize personal devices and piloting initiatives such ad BYOD days (bring your own device), will support students’ information fluency.  Information bombards students at astounding rates through their own personal devices they carry with them.  If we can help students to harness the device as a tool rather than a perpetual information conduit and critically evaluate information, this will positively impact their problem solving and digital citizenship skills (Smaldino et al., 2012).
            In addition to personal devices, I hope to continue to gain experience designing and maintaining engaging, interactive sites, blogs, and spaces. I envision creating a virtual space as diverse and extensive as the physical library for students and teachers that integrates traditional learning methods with 21st century literacies and skills.  In order to create such a space, I will continue to experiment with and become efficient in using platforms such as Google, Posterous, WordPress, collaboration sites, etc.
A transition from the classroom or even professional development department into library and media specialist is a challenging process.  Fortunately, I feel that my drive and motivation to continually learn will allow me to meet these goals as I diversify and integrate my own skill sets and qualities.
References

Lamont, M. (2009). Gender, Technology, and Libraries. Information Technology & Libraries, 28(3), 137-142. doi: 1837038311.
Smaldino, S.E., Lowther, D.L., Russell, J.D. (2012).  Instructional Technology and Media for Learning.  10th ed.  Boston, MA:  Pearson.