Q: Our collection budget is tight, but I worry we’ll get left behind in building our digital library. Is there any way to start small and add on later?
A: If you are like many school librarians, you have toyed with the idea of building an eBook collection. Maybe the shelves have gotten a little too crowded for your liking, but the collection is relatively new and not ready to be weeded. Perhaps the school is going one to one and you would like to meet students where they are. Whatever your motivation might be, eBooks are an essential part of Future Ready libraries, and they offer numerous benefits.
eBooks will not get lost, stolen, or damaged. eBooks are secure, private, portable, and don’t take up shelf space. With many eBooks, children can stretch to read at higher levels by using the support of audio accompaniment. Children are able to read and explore topics in the comfort of their homes while having audio and visual literacy engagement and stimulation. Lastly, eBooks are simply a great teaching tool—teachers can easily incorporate mentor texts, writing examples, and literary images directly into their lessons.
Unfortunately, fears about cost hold some school librarians back from starting an eBook collection. eBooks have a mistaken reputation for being costly and unobtainable. When they first appeared on the education scene, eBooks were a little pricey, but now there are ways to build a great eBook collection for your students, even when your budget is tight.
UniteforLiteracy.com, OverDrive’s K–5 QuickStart, and partnering with other schools and libraries are all great options to consider when you’re getting started and looking to make the most of your collection dollars. Stay tuned. In Part Two, I’ll tell you more about using each of these options in building a great eBook collection.
Cost no longer needs to be a deterrent in making use of these great tools for building literacy skills with your students. Uniteforliteracy.com, for example, is an amazing online “picture book oasis” for building early literacy skills, and even more amazing— it is completely free. By providing multiple audio languages,
Uniteforliteracy accelerates English language learners’ progress, since the eBook is displayed in English and can be read to the user in both English and the child’s native language. There are more than 50 different languages to choose from and the multicultural images are inspirational to children, since they see reflections of themselves validate their culture and life experiences.
OverDrive, a well-known service in public libraries, is another excellent choice for school libraries just starting out with eBooks. OverDrive has recently launched K-5 QuickStart, which provides an easy first step when developing a school eBook collection. Learning communities can have digital libraries that allow simultaneous access to eBooks anywhere and anytime. This is a great way for students and teachers at the elementary level to familiarize themselves with eBooks, and learn how to integrate eBooks effectively into teaching and learning.
School librarians looking for the most cost-effective way to grow their eBook collection should consider collaborating with other area schools to develop a shared collection through OverDrive. By scheduling field trips or arranging school visits by the public librarian, the school librarian can help children obtain their own very first card and demo lessons in accessing eBooks using their public library card at no cost. With these great choices available there’s no excuse not to start using eBooks in your school library today!
Tracey Wong is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Regional Lead and a Transliteracy Specialist with the Blind Brook School District in Rye Brook, NY. For more information on her library and programming, please visit traceywong.weebly.com.