Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Incorporating iPads into the Library

Using the iPads has become a natural part of day to day events in the library.  Students use their iPads, desktop computers and their personal devices all together to do research, homework, take notes, create projects and videos, etc.

But what about another library function--providing books?  We saw a real need to be able to offer a virtual e-book library that students could check out to their iPad and read, just like physical books, for those times the library wasn't accessible, was closed, or didn't have a print book available.

So the library has added two tools--Overdrive E-Library and Follett's Shelf (rolling out next week), which allow students to access online e-books and download them to their iPad for short term "check-out."  (We also offer reference books as e-books through our GALE database).

Overdrive runs over the library's webpage but is also an app for the iPad (Overdrive Media Console). It allows students to browse the e-book catalog, select a book, and download it. The book returns itself when due, thus eliminating overdue notices. Overdrive can also be used for audiobooks, and can work with Kindles and Nooks for any students using those devices.  Westbank Library and Austin Public Library use the app as well, so students now have access to a wide-range of books to "check out" to their iPads!

I introduced the app to senior English classes the last two weeks and the reception  has been very positive. It saves students from feeling like they need to buy books for leisure reading on the iPad and we can provide some required titles too. 

One student shares her reaction:

Of course the library still welcomes students to share their enthusiasm for books in the physical library, but this offers one more choice for them!

(As far as e-books in general, many other vendors are working on a variety of e-book models; for example, Ingram is designing a model where schools could "lease" class sets of a novel while the class is studying it, but it's not ready for "prime-time" yet. Many e-book products are evolving as is the pricing and contracts, but Overdrive functions like an annual subscription with an annual fee. Follett is rolling out an app for their Follett e-books that will work with our library catalog this week. If you are interested in e-books, an excellent source of information is the blog No Shelf Required and in this Mindshift article. I have also written about it extensively on www.futura.edublogs.org)

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