Librarians talk a lot about books. Tell me something I don’t know!
What is new about our conversation is what will books and libraries look like 2 to 5 years from now. It is safe to say that in the very near future students will not be carrying around paperback or hard cover books. Instead, just like you can carry around your entire music collection on an iPod, smartphone, iPod Touch, or Zune, you will soon be carrying around your personal library on an ereader such as a Kindle or iPad. Librarians are gearing up for this shift by developing ereader programs. Most notable are Buffy Hamilton at Creekview High School in Canton, Georgia and Kathy Parker at Seneca Grade School in Illinois.
Hamilton and Parker are leading the charge to bring ereaders, namely Kindles, into K-12 libraries and classrooms. Parker and Hamilton are building extensive ebook collections on these devices (you can put the same title on 6 devices) with input from students. Since introducing them into their schools there have been waiting lists for student check out. When you consider that the average cost of a new, library bound book is approximately $20 and ebooks for the Kindle average around $10 it’s not difficult to see why ereaders are so attractive to librarians, school boards, and consumers.
It’s not all about cost. The nature of reading changes when you read on an ereader--it becomes experiential. You can access dictionary and get definitions, highlight and annotate text, increase font size to improve readability, engage text to speech capabilities, display the percentage of the book you have completed, and connect to the Web and access additional information, etc. According to Parker, "The bottom line for me is the Kindles have generated a love of reading among those students who would not have otherwise picked up a book
The question isn’t WILL I have ereaders in my LMC but WHEN will I have them? My goal is to launch an ereader program during the 2011-2012 school year. I have joined the eBook Educators Group (ning) so I can monitor other colleagues' ereader selections including iPads, Nooks, & other types of ereaders. I am also watching Hamilton and Parker’s programs closely to see how best to roll out and manage our ereader program so we can duplicate their success at Flagstaff....STAY TUNED!