Many schools are thinking about including e-books in their school library collections.
Acquiring e-books (items created digitally or digital versions of print material) will involve you and your team in considering and researching a number of issues. Whatever choice you make about adding e-books to your collection, it should be in the context of a well thought out collection development strategy, documented by you and your school library team.
E-reading – trends
E-book buying – trends
Digital Rights Management (DRM)
Devices – single purpose or multi purpose
E-books file formats
Bring your own device - BYOD
Further resources on BYOD in New Zealand
Selecting e-book titles
Providing access to your e-books
According to the Pew Internet project (Dec 2012) e-reading is on the rise while print reading is slightly in decline. However, the report also states that people who enjoy e-reading are also more likely to enjoy print reading as well.
While there is a lot of emphasis on, and discussion about, digital resources of all kinds, research indicates that for some time to come print resources will have an important place in your school library collection.
The recent Pew Internet report (June 2013) on Younger Americans’ library habits and their expectations states that:
Younger Americans—those ages 16-29—exhibit a fascinating mix of habits and preferences when it comes to reading, libraries, and technology. Almost all Americans under age 30 are online … however, they are also still closely bound to print, as three-quarters (75%) of younger Americans say they have read at least one book in print in the past year, compared with 64% of adults aged 30 and older.
Similarly, younger Americans’ library usage reflects a blend of traditional and technological services. Americans under age 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit the library, and once there they borrow print books and browse the shelves at similar rates.
Additionally, more than eight in ten (85%) older teens ages 16-17 read a print book in the past year, making them significantly more likely to have done so than any other age group.
When asked about what was most important for libraries to offer:
- 75% (of 16-29 yr olds) said it is “very important” for libraries to offer books for people to borrow
- 80% of Americans under age 30 said it is “very important” for libraries to have librarians to help people find information they need
- 76% considered it “very important” for libraries to offer research resources such as free databases
- 75% stated that free access to computers and the internet is “very important” for libraries to have
- 72% said quiet study spaces are “very important”
- 72% believed that programs and classes for children and teens are “very important” for libraries to have
- 71% considered it “very important” for libraries to offer job or career resources
The 4th edition of the Kids and Family reading report from Scholastic has some interesting statistics on reading generally and on children’s e-reading in particular.
In 2010, 25% of children had read at least one e-book that year. In 2012, this had increased to 46%. However 80% of children who read e-books still read books for fun primarily in print. Echoing the trend for adults, one fifth of the students said that they were reading more books for fun – boys are more likely to agree than girls (26% vs 16%)
In a recent study from New South Wales, key findings from an e-books test project in NSW included the following benefits:
- 41% of students were reading more than usual
- 47% of teachers indicated students were enjoying reading more, with 21% believing reading skills were much improved
- 100% of parents/carers expressed desire for ongoing access to e-books
- Students believed using e-books improved their writing and creativity and reading independently
- Teachers and teacher librarians say the greatest benefit was in reading comprehension
- Foley, Colleen. E-books for leisure and learning. Scan v.31, Nov 2012, p6-14)
In October 2012, statistics published by the American Association of Publishers on the sales of children’s and young adult’s books, reported that for January to June 2012:
- overall sales were up 40.7%
- e-books showed an increase of 251.5% over the same period in the previous year
- e-books made up 17% of the total book sales in the Children/YA area compared with 7% the previous year
At June 2013, Random House reported that 22% of its sales are e-books.
In most cases, if you buy an e-book from a supplier such as Amazon or Whitcoulls, it is for personal use only. To prevent illegal lending and copying, publishers apply digital rights software to the e-books.
For libraries worldwide this has meant that it has not been legally possible to simply buy e-books and add them to their catalogues for patrons to borrow.
To legally lend e-books, libraries must obtain their e-books through companies which have negotiated the DRM with publishers and are able to pass that right onto the libraries unless the e-book is legitimately available without DRM.
At present (July 2013) there are two companies which New Zealand school libraries can use to legally add e-books to their collections:
Some e-books are in the public domain which means that they are freely available for lending. A number of websites provide access to free e-books, including:
Remember that your local public library may also be providing access to e-books. Consider this as an extension of your own collection.
If you are considering purchasing devices for your students to read e-books, there are a few issues you will need to consider carefully.
As with e-books there is debate about what kind of device is best for e-reading. Many people like dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle and Kobo as they are light to hold, use e-ink technology which makes reading more comfortable on eyesight, and have a long battery life.
However, the purchase of tablets is on the rise worldwide, and can be used for reading e-books as well as serving many other purposes.
E-books can also be read on smart phones. For people who already have a smartphone this may be an easy solution for reading e-books.
According to Nielsen NZ Smartphone ownership has grown by over 11% in 2012 (1.7 million New Zealanders now have a smartphone) and there has been 52% growth in the number of people using their smartphone features.
Tablet ownership has more than doubled to reach 395,000, and electronic book readers are now owned by over 5% of New Zealanders. (Accessed 2 May 2013).
Neilsen data further predicts that tablet ownership in New Zealand will increase to 600,000 in 2013. (Morning report, Radio New Zealand National, 22 March 2013)
When planning to buy an e-reader, you need to be aware that e-books come in a variety of file formats.
Claire Rogers, on Stuff.co.nz, advises:
"Make sure you investigate which formats a reader supports before buying, and the range of books available in that format. E-books come in a range of file formats and e-readers support different formats. PDF, HTML and ePub are the most common file formats, while Amazon uses a proprietary file format called AZW for its hugely popular Kindle. You can download software to convert AZW e-books to other formats so other e-readers will recognise them, while software such as Calibre can convert ePub books so they can be read on a Kindle.
"Other e-book providers such as Kobo also have apps for reading their e-books on smartphones and tablets. Many devices that support the ePub and PDF formats, including Kobo e-readers, use Adobe's e-book management software, Adobe Digital Editions." (Accessed 22 July 2013)
Many schools are now considering or implementing BYOD policies. As of Sept 2012 14.5% of New Zealand schools have a BYOD programme for students in their school; 40.7% are at schools looking at implementing BYOD.
One advantage of this is that it saves the school money – cost of devices is spread among the school population. At the same time it raises issues of equity for schools with students who can’t afford their own devices. The Manaiakalani Trust is one example of a school community finding an alternative approach. Nine decile 1a schools in Glen Innes, Panmure and Pt England (Auckland) developed a programme to help parents to buy netbooks for their children.
It is important to get infrastructure right when considering BYOD. Conrad Stewart from Isometric Solutions says it is vital that schools carefully think about the performance of their internet connection when considering BYOD.
“If a school is looking at BYOD, the first thing we say to them is don’t go there unless you’ve got a decent internet connection. Most of the schools have listened, and those that didn’t are often frustrated because the access is slow.”
- NZ interface online Do a search on BYOD.
- Online discussion group for schools implementing or considering BYOD. Includes Bring your own device: a guide for schools (PDF)
- BYOD and acceptable use policies
- Going Mobile: issues to consider if going BYOD, by Christopher Harris. School Library Journal Jan 2012, p.14. Article available through EPIC (School login and password required)
- Orewa College BYO Devices case study
- Orewa College BYOD, iPads and the path to a flipped classroom, by Mark Quigley (Deputy Principal, Orewa College). Useful advice on how they came to their decision and the questions they needed to ask.
- Tawa Intermediate
Well thought out collection development policies should guide your selection of e-book titles. The same principles apply to purchasing or subscribing to e-books as they do to any item that you acquire for your collection.
Your students’ literacy and learning needs should always be central to any collection development decisions.
Ideally your e-books should be catalogued to the same standards as any print item and made available through your integrated library system. This allows students and teachers to find this material along with any other relevant items.
E-books purchased through Wheelers and Overdrive will come with catalogue records that can be downloaded into your catalogue. Other freely available e-books and online resources can be catalogued using the item’s url.
Some sites will provide cataloguing details. For example, you can link from your catalogue to an item from the International Children’s Digital Library
Developments in e-books, DRM and reader/tablet technology move quickly so you will need to be up-to-date if you decide to add e-books to your collection. There are a number of ways to stay abreast of issues in this area:
- Blogs and online magazines such as New Zealand Interface magazine, and the technology section of Stuff.co.nz
- Services to Schools e-book workshops
- Services to Schools e-books online community
- School Libs listserv – access to many knowledgeable school librarians who will provide useful perspectives from their own experience
- LIANZA e-book discussion group