library technology,  work in progress

Academic and School Libraries – “Lessons Learned About E-Textbooks and E-Books”

Academic learning spaces and e-book readers are a subject that our team is focused on understanding.  It affects library space planning and design.  Indeed, libraries are unique learning spaces that improve student success rates and ebook technology is changing education.

Recently, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education demonstrated the challenges of ebooks and the lessons that can be learned from innovative projects.  E-book readers are in a transition as they get to market and it is very easy to reject the new technology because it doesn’t work.  Developers don’t always see eye-to-eye with users so it takes time for these tools to hit critical mass. 

6 lessons learned from e-textbooks includes a good overview of the challenges that higher educational institutions face when they start moving toward e-books and e-textbooks; learning curve, some professors innovators, battery life,  subjects are not equally friendly and impact matters.  For example, at Northwest Missouri State University, the Sony e-book reader didn’t provide the type of navigation that users were used to and it became uncomfortable for some students to leave their text book behind.  They expected it to be the same as a normal book and it’s not the same.  It is new technology and it requires training.  Here, Academic Libraries have an opportunity to become relevant by providing training and support.

We know it will take time for students and professors to learn how to use ebook technology illustrating why impact matters.  We also know that the publishing community needs to extend their products to support e-books and e-textbooks.  This will take time, for example, science materials get good coverage via the ejournals, but econtent for humanities is taking time to get to market.     

At the Lyndon Institute, ACA developed a unique program to support critical needs by recommended kindle as a solution.  The library had a flood and lost its entire collection.  The school needed a solution and fast.  

p>Today, the project has its successes and challenges.  It doesn’t mean that the Kindles are perfect, but the solution does provide students with more access to books and journals then ever before. We need to recognize that the library and ebooks are in transition.  Today its a blended environment that we use for study.   

University librarians are an important test group for e-books.  Student want more seating in the library and e-book readers are a way to increase access to e-journals.  Professors are starting to use blackboard and blogs to post reference information.  The University library is supporting their work by teaching information literacy and providing support to students.  It is logical to see a group librarians take charge.  One group we have been associated with is LITA.  They have a great blog with lots of information.