In response to the many questions we fielded after the EBook Summit from SLJ, there are a few poignant thoughts to share that will help others create their solution for addressing the exploding need to embrace digital content via a virtual platform.
There are many models and when you talk with each vendor, each solution will sound like an appealing, viable option. If you survey your needs, and create a plan ahead of time, your plan will determine the solution, rather than the convincing voice of a salesperson. I've met most of the vendor sales people and I love them all. However, all the models have their own nuances, strengths and weaknesses and only you will determine which ebook models match your needs.
As you plan for funding, you need to address not only where to obtain your funds, but also whether the annual fees are sustainable. If you do your homework and plan accordingly, it is likely that annual fees can be budgeted for, if the tool is being used effectively. The annual fees we pay to certain vendors range from $50.00 per site to a many thousand. However, we are maintaining a number of eBook, virtual models for 84 libraries, 32 districts and over 30,000 students.
When crafting a plan for funding, keep in mind the following:
- Your plan should be framed to support student achievement
- Data should be provided from reputable sources, regarding the 'capacity' of the market to access the ebooks. The Horizon Report, for instance, says that we are within three years of students entering our buildings with their devices in hand. Make it a goal to have the virtual presence to accommodate their access with CARS (Credible, Accurate, Reliable and Supported) data and eBooks.
- Align your eBook library presentation with district goals.
- Align your eBook library plea with building or the Principal's goals.
- Do your research and get some parents on your side.
We eventually chose Overdrive as a download library to support digital content delivery and they have been wonderful to deal with. This library is not isolated, but the marc records can be embedded into our specific library catalogs as well as our union catalog. That way the books are accessible and the marc record points them directly to the URL of the book.
Last year, I heard our former Commissioner of Education for NYS, David Steiner, say, "I am so tired of visiting schools and seeing their professional quality football fields. Why am I not seeing wonderful libraries?" (NYLA Conference Nov 2010)
If districts can find an extra million in their budget for a new artificial turf field, then why wouldn't they spend the money on a virtual library that will support instruction for every student? That would place us all on an even playing field. Let's go and try to get into this eBook game!