"At the end of the day, our role as librarians is to serve people, not house books. eBooks allow me to do this better and make it easier for students."
– Alicia Blowers, Librarian, St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School, Alexandria, VA
After almost two decades as a desirable and widely available format, eBooks still represent a challenge to school library collection management. The overwhelming amount of publishers and providers has increased both the number of available titles and the number of decisions librarians face when determining which titles to purchase. A crowded educational marketplace makes this process even harder. One title can have multiple price points, subscription models, and points of access.
School librarians already face many demands on a daily basis: limited budgets, finite human resources, and diverse student and teacher needs. Plus, there is a constant desire to free up space taken by physical books and find new ways to keep students interested in learning. This is where eBooks can make a difference. Their format appeals to digital natives by providing relevant content; increased searchability; and unlimited, simultaneous access in and out of the classroom. It's no wonder librarians are trying to conquer the challenge of eBook collection development as effectively and inexpensively as possible.
When digital content is integrated into the library and classroom, it can play a key role in keeping costs down and materials current. But to get the most out of this resource, it's important for librarians to understand the eBook marketplace and how to use it to their advantage. Due to recent developments in licensing and pricing models, publishers making their titles more available to a growing number of providers, and an excess of low-cost reading devices, eBooks are more accessible than ever before.
We conducted a nationwide survey of 273 schools to gain further insight into how librarians, students, and schools view and use eBook collections. Nearly 82 percent of respondents currently provide eBooks, and 67 percent said that students use the eBooks in the library's collections. Yet, despite these high rates of adoption, most librarians agreed that it's still helpful to learn best practices from those who have successfully implemented eBooks into their school libraries.
We Asked, They Answered
Following the survey, we conducted detailed interviews with eBook experts and school librarians who have enhanced their collections. If you and your school want to take full advantage of this format, find out more about the eight best practices outlined in our webinar and infographic, such as:
- Developing a student-directed strategy
- Curating to your budgetary needs
- Determining how to do more with less