I read Travis Jonker’s article “Fine. I Got an Ereader. Now What?: A newbie to digital reading gets his first Kindle” initially when it came out in the January 2012 issue of School Library Journal (SLJ). I too thought it was (dare I say) cute. In the least pretty doggone tongue in cheek. Seems though some pushback is in order, as Doug Johnson has posted some of his thinking regarding the article and particularly School Library Journal’s decision to publish it as a featured article this January.
That article was me 6 months ago!! Did Travis Jonkers get in my head?
In my own experience I sat on the sidelines for the last few years watching the ereader/ebook initiatives unfold around me, reading everything available about how this library or that librarian was embracing the new facet of reading. I too was hesitant to invest money as the steward of funds for a library program that serves my students, my school, and my district. I’m responsible for this portion of the school (that essentially belongs to my students) and must strive to provide a vibrant and relevant program. But the longer we waited the more I felt the need to invest and experience it, and this was one way to address relevancy in a challenging time. My research was done. I needed to gauge reactions from authentic use. Just reading about others experiences was no longer enough for me. With our school administrator and even district level support, we decided to invest.
And since fiction rules at my school…
"Overdrive for iPhone" By David King
After researching and based on our circulation statistics showing favoritism toward fiction reading, we decided to go with Overdrive and develop a “modified” bring your own device program at our school. It was not a decision made lightly. I have mixed reviews from students and teachers alike, but overall I’m happy with our implementation. Alas, we are still learning–only roughly 2 months in with using Overdrive.
Will it be our sole ebook source?
I am also considering some of the nonfiction resources from FollettShelf, though I haven’t totally committed. This will be an investment next school year if it happens. But I am doing my homework still. I’m sure some remember my recent queries on our library listserv and even Twitter and Facebook asking questions about FS. Many of my misconceptions have been cleared away by talking with experienced FS users. It’s nice to talk to the vendor reps, but talking with experienced librarians and teachers is where I find the most valued information.
“Oh yes–exactly how I feel!!”
I would imagine that article made many librarians who are still sitting on the sidelines feel better about their choice to wait. We have to make this decision based on our students, our community, and more, and I’d wager there are a lot of schools out there who haven’t invested a nickel in any ebook or device platform at all. Those of us who have are like pioneers forging a new trail, and we are sharing our experiences to make it easier for those who follow. There is good news and bad news with the reminder that we are pioneers. The good is we are learning something everyday. The bad is that at times mistakes become painfully obvious. (But the good of that is our friends and colleagues who are watching our implementation can avoid the same pitfalls we make.) Basically to fail is to learn, so it does have merit and redemption.
Perhaps Doug is being a little harsh with SLJ and this contributor, but truly when I reflect on the technology and even ebooks and ereader articles from this same publication, this one does seem dated—like it should have been in last January’s journal instead of this one. But on the flip side (oh yikes, this makes me so two-faced!!), as I stated earlier, we are all at different points on this continuum. So it was right on target for many. I guess this means Doug and his school district are way ahead of where the author is in a journey to embrace and/or experience digital formats for reading. And it is why a leading professional journal would feature such an article. I would also wager many of us are at varying points in the journey. So while Doug finds issues with its datedness, and even I do to some degree, there is nothing wrong with others being right where the author of the article is. I’m just happy to be on the frontlines instead of watching on the side, wondering what to do, and in the end feeling left behind or worse, left out. I’m GLAD I can speak to my patrons and fellow colleagues with personal experience.
The writing is on the wall, people…
"Sexier than a Librarian" By ATIS547
It doesn’t make me feel like I’m in with the “cool kids.” I just feel significantly more informed, especially when I see the ebook/ereader issue as becoming more prevalent and not really going away. Nope this fad is here to stay for now. Consider Apple’s iBook textbook initiative just introduced in the last few days. Seems the writing is on the wall. And if we as librarians want to stay, we need to be with it knowledge-wise, and in my mind it means having a solid understanding AND experience with ebooks and ereaders. We must stay relevant. Dragging our feet on something like this is dangerous and downright risky business. Would you rather by a critical part of the instructional team–seen as a team player who can bring knowledge and experience to the table–and even provide experience for your students, teachers, admin, and entire school community, or a RIF (reduction in force) waiting to happen because you bring little or nothing to the table?
An affirmation…or a call to arms?
Yes, while the article gives those an affirmation as to why they are not an early adopter, it is not license to pretend ebooks and ereaders are not going to eventually impact your school and ultimately your job in some format. Be proactive, not reactive.