Back in January, we sent out a survey to Casti students and employees to gauge their interest, familiarity, and facility with ebooks. We were curious about your thoughts and feelings as we begin to explore new options for our library collection. Don’t worry: we’re still in the thinking phase; no radical changes are imminent! We’ll keep you involved and up to date as our thinking–and the options for libraries–continue to evolve.
Our Survey Results
As you might guess, there were a lot of strong opinions! Not only was the community torn about whether or not they find ebooks valuable, but individuals were torn as well, because there are many positives and negatives when it comes to reading ebooks, as the 70% of you who read ebooks “sometimes” or “often” know. For example, you noted that while you love the portability and storage capabilities of e-readers, you miss the physical experience of turning a book’s pages and are also aware that not all books are available in ebook form.
We were pleased to see that the survey responses represented a healthy sample of adults, upper schoolers, and middle schoolers. It turns out you all have different needs and desires when it comes to ebooks. Here are some things we found out:
- About 80% of Casti employees would like to borrow ebooks from the school library, compared with 46% of upper school respondents and 49% of middle school respondents.
- Employees (70%) were more aware of their public library’s ebook offerings than upper schoolers (20%) or middle schoolers (24%).
- Employees and middle schoolers more often read ebooks than upper schoolers.
Many of you told us that you either like or dislike staring at a backlit screen while reading, that you worry about battery life, or that you have trouble keeping track of your place in an ebook. Perhaps your particular app or device is not the right one for you. Here is a resource comparing tablets and e-readers that may help you determine if your reading experience might be improved by use of a different software or a different device altogether: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20009738-1/kindle-vs-nook-vs-ipad-which-e-book-reader-should-you-buy/
We also asked you your thoughts on e-textbooks. Most of you identified both pros and cons when you considered the option of using an ebook for a course instead of a physical text. For example, you said you found it more difficult to highlight and take notes if you were using an e-textbook. Both students and teachers noted that it is nice to have some dedicated non-screentime in your day, and e-textbooks would add even more.
On the other hand, e-textbooks offer enhancements not easily accessible in physical books, like interactive and multimedia content such as videos or quizzes. E-textbooks can also be updated by the publisher if new research is published or errors are found, which means you don’t have to buy a new edition of a book to know what the latest news is. Another perk is that e-textbooks are weightless (assuming you’re already carrying a device to read them on)!
Ebooks from your Public Library
Nearly all public libraries now offer ebooks and e-audiobooks. You don’t even have to visit the physical library; all you need is your library card (and sometimes you also need to create a username and password). We can help you learn how to use the various services that public libraries utilize for checking out ebooks. (Just stop in the library and ask if you need help!) The most common platforms are OverDrive, Blio, and Axis 360. There are also third-party platforms, like DAISY and Lendle, which don’t require library cards at all. You can learn about DAISY, for vision-impaired readers, here: https://openlibrary.org/help/faq/accessing#what-is-daisy and you can join Lendle, which is only for Kindle users, here: http://lendle.me
While we will likely provide you with options for borrowing ebooks from the Castilleja Library in the future, we are still considering the best course of action. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to ebooks. Different vendors have all kinds of unexpected rules, and these rules are usually different for libraries than they are for general consumers, which is why you may find that your library does not have the titles available that you would like to borrow, even if you see them for sale online.
Another thing to know is that neither consumers nor libraries ever truly “own” an e-book, which makes some people more comfortable with analog. When you buy a print book, you own it outright and can do whatever you want with it, whether it’s lending it to a friend, writing in it, or throwing it away. Ebooks, whether for individual consumers or libraries, are only ever licensed, which means at any time a book can be edited without your consent or even your knowledge, and you may be limited to reading it on certain devices, rather than being able to continue to own an ebook once you’ve switched from Kindle to iPad, for example. Ebooks also cost more for libraries than individual consumers. To learn more about these restrictions, read the Mountain View Public Library’s excellent explanation, available here: http://www.mountainview.gov/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=10729
If you have more questions about ebooks, feel free to contact the library. You may also be interested in the Pew Research Center’s studies on Americans’ reading habits in the digital age, available here: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/