Friday, April 11, 2014

Hands-on E-books

I personally am a big fan of e-books, and use them on my Kindle frequently. I logged into Overdrive from the Madison Public Library homepage, and browsed the digital collections to find a variety of books. I wanted to find several children's books or picture books to see the differences between that format and a standard chapter book. I downloaded a Dr. Seuss book that allows you to enlarge the text by double-clicking it, which was helpful since the print was small and can be hard to read on portable tablets/Kindles. The Dr. Seuss book actually contained 3 books in 1, so it was nice to only have to check out and download something once that included 3 different items. Next I looked at a chapter book (Amber Brown Sees Red) and really liked how it was formatted. The text was spaced out enough for a younger reader to enjoy without getting overwhelmed, and there were a variety of black and white drawings interspersed.

Using Overdrive can be confusing and a bit complicated. First, users need their library card number and pin to log into Overdrive online. The Wisconsin Digital Library homepage is fairly straightforward- users can browse through available categories, see what is popular, and search for titles on their own. Users can limit their search to a specific format (audiobook, e-book, kindle book, etc) to only show the available items in their preferred format. The items displayed include an icon in the top right corner indicating the format. If the items are available, users can click the "Borrow" button and then download the book. If patrons don't have portable e-readers, they can still download e-books to read on their desktop or laptop computers. Borrowing Kindle books requires an additional step, and requires patrons to have an account. Overdrives automatically connects patrons to their account when they select the option to borrow a Kindle book, and then they can click once to borrow the library book. Patrons do not need to return any titles- they simply disappear from the device after the loan period Users can also search LINKcat for e-books, but I think it's harder to find them. Patrons can narrow their results to "books" but then have to search for "website or downloadable." If you click on an item, You have to hunt around a bit to find the link for "click here to access online" and then it directs patrons to the Overdrive page anyway.

Right now I don't see a great way to integrate e-books into group programming in libraries, other than having patrons read them on their own (or providing e-readers for check out) and then coming together for a discussion. I'm going to try and hunt down more interactive children's books or picture books, and see what I can find on that front!

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