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In June 2014, Willow Park Middle School’s eLibrary went live. Over the summer, early adopter teachers and students started reading online. Some of us took our eLibrary traveling all summer. It was awesome!
I know. Some people think that students need to feel paper, that reading on screen causes eye strain and that a device that could die if dropped in a bathtub, can’t be seen in harsh sunlight and depends on battery life is so far inferior to a book it’s not even worth trying, never mind investing in a library of said choices. Fair enough.
For naysayers, I know that you know that eBooks are a done deal. They exist with or without your approval. For those people that don’t want to read eBooks, don’t. For those people that do… here’s what we love about eBooks:
We’re using OverDrive. It’s an expensive subscription and it contains eBooks and audiobooks. We choose it because of the ease of enrolling our school population and because the Calgary Public Library uses it. We have a pretty strong partnership with Fish Creek Public Library. For those of us that were already using the OverDrive app, it was really simple to just add a new library.
One of the coolest things about OverDrive School Library is the Book Club ebook. OverDrive has a program called “Big Library Read”. It’s world wide and your school can borrow unlimited copies of “Anatomy of A Misfit” by Andrea Portes in either an audio or eBook version. They’re marketing it as “Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being Being a Wallflower” and so far the Willow Park Book Club loves it!
If you’re thinking about using eBooks in your library, you’ll have some serious things to consider. With OverDrive you buy a subscription… every year. With Follett you buy the book one time and you have it forever. We’ve tried having a few tablets with certain eBooks and audio books on them available for sign out and we didn’t find huge success with that route. We are finding huge success with our eLibrary, because it suits our student population. We’ve also had a huge amount of success with students creating their own eBooks and eMagazines. I don’t think eBooks are going away, just like I still read hard copy books and I don’t see them going anywhere fast either. I choose to embrace them. To me it’s not should we use eBooks, it’s how should we use eBooks?
Karena is a Learning Commons Teacher. She works at Willow Park Arts-Centred MIddle School in Calgary.
CBC Radio’s Spark with Nora Young has recently run some interesting segments about technology and reading – great content for teacher-librarians, or anyone interested in digital culture and literacy. We recommend the following:
Scanning and skimming (Sunday, May 11, 2014)
Maryanne Wolf's research explores the differences between screen reading and paper reading, and what the move to digital is doing to our brains. Plus, Bookfuturist Tim Carmody talks about the changes in 'serious' reading he's seen as a result of all that scanning and skimming on screens. Wolf's book Proust and the Squid was recently a Calgary Reads selection.
Bite-sized reading (Sunday, May 11, 2014)
Yael Goldstein Love explains Rooster, a smartphone app that offers bite-sized, subscription-based books. Plus, Bookfuturist Tim Carmody talks about his take on immersive reading.
E-library letdown (Friday, May 23, 2014)
This story first aired in April, 2013. The frustrations of borrowing an e-book from the public library has Spark take look at the lessons of digital adaptation with a panel of book, library, and policy experts.
I was dismayed to read about the recent situation in Idaho, where parents called the police about students handing out banned books.
The backstory: apparently a group of parents in Meridian School District convinced administrators to ban Sherman Alexie's novel Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from the Grade 10 curriculum, as they felt the book contained inappropriate language and sexual activity. Some students didn’t agree with the decision, and launched a petition. They collected over 350 student signatures, but the ban was upheld. The students response: a protest, where they distributed free copies of Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to those who had signed the petition. That's when parents called the police.
As a senior high school teacher-librarian, I take the principles of intellectual freedom seriously, and I fully stand behind the right of students to freely choose their reading material. At my school, we work hard to build a library collection that gives our school community access to a broad spectrum of ideas, and a diversity of viewpoints. We select our resources based on their individual strengths, and never make decisions about including or excluding a book on the basis of controversial content, language or topic. Not everyone will agree with every one of our selections, but we hope every reader will find a book that resonates with them.
Does this mean I don’t respect the right of parents to be involved in shaping the moral and intellectual development of their children? Not at all. I just don’t think banning books is the route to take. Reading is central to kids’ intellectual, emotional and moral growth. Within the pages of books, children find a safe space to explore ideas, scenarios and circumstances. Reading, for young people, is part of the process of becoming – and that process demands the right of kids to freely define their choices, and explore the themes that interest or concern them.
That’s not to say parents shouldn’t be involved in their children’s reading. What better way to start authentic conversations about important ideas or moral choices than by discussing a book? Parents should be paying attention to what their kids are reading, and they should be asking questions. Equally important, they need to listen carefully to the answers their questions prompt. Meaningful, respectful conversation helps to build moral, ethical citizens; banning books doesn’t.
Nancy Prentice is the teacher-librarian at Western Canada High School in Calgary, Alberta.
Book Week is a great and relatively inexpensive way to have a well known Canadian author visit your school or library. The cost per reading is $150.00 plus a Shared Tour Cost of $50.00.
Applications are now open to host an author, illustrator or storyteller visit during TD Canadian Children’s Book Week 2014.
TD Canadian Children's Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children's books and the importance of reading and stories. Jill Bryant, author and Kathy Stinson, author will be visiting schools, libraries, bookstores and community centres in Alberta in May 2014. Find out more and register at: http://www.bookweek.ca/
Every year, readings are given in schools, libraries and other public venues across Alberta. Authors connect with children and teens during Book Week. Meeting an author can encourage children to create their own stories and provide them with an avenue to explore their own creativity. Register now the deadline is December 31.
Have you registered your school for the Rocky Mountain Book Award? This reader's choice award designed for students in grades 4-7 is supported by the Alberta School Library Council. Further information can be found at http://rmba.lethsd.ab.ca
The Online Reference Centre (ORC) grant-in-aid for 2014/2015 has been approved! This means that the ORC will remain available to all Alberta K-12 students, parents, staff and pre-service teachers.
The ORC is currently in the process of firming up its 2014/2015 collection. Although the ORC is working with the same budget this year, US exchange rates have changed, and this has an impact, since many of the ORC contracts are paid to US publishers in US funds. The ORC Coordinator is working with the current publishers to see what can be done about maintaining the current collection despite changing financial circumstances.
The first annual EdTechTeam Calgary Summit, featuring Google for Education, will be held at Rundle College Jr Sr High in Calgary, Alberta on August 18 & 19, 2014.This high intensity two day event focuses on deploying, integrating and using Google Apps for Education to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, practicing administrators, solution providers, Google engineers, and representatives from the Google Apps for Education team. Registration has just opened at http://ab.gafesummit.com/calgary/ Register soon, to avoid missing out!