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eBooksIn Middle and High School Librariesby Anne Stewart and Andria Morningstar-Gray

Table of Contents

[[http://boonfoundationssu14.iwiki.kent.edu/eBooks#The Need for Ebooks|The Need for Ebooks]]

[[http://boonfoundationssu14.iwiki.kent.edu/eBooks#Benefits of Building an eCollection|Benefits of Building an eCollection]]
[[http://boonfoundationssu14.iwiki.kent.edu/eBooks#Issues to Consider|Issues to Consider]]
[[http://boonfoundationssu14.iwiki.kent.edu/eBooks#Ebook Providers|Ebook Providers]]

The Need for Ebooks

The National Endowment for the Arts (2007) issued a research report that noted three major concerns for the state of reading in the United States: "a historical decline in voluntary reading rates among teenagers and young adults; a gradual worsening of reading skills among older teens; and declining proficiency in adult readers." Research highlighted that those who read voluntarily were better readers, scored better on testing, and had distinct advantages over nonreaders as they moved into the professional world.

Teens Read 60% Less Than the Average American | Create InfographicsOn the other hand, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's Generation M2 study (as cited in Hill, 2010, p. 33-34), eight to eighteen year olds surveyed spent almost eight hours a day, seven days a week using media; twenty percent of their media usage was on mobile devices such as cell phones, video games, and mp3 players. In addition, teenagers were found to spend an additional hour on the computer watching television or listening to music.


According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Study (2010)
If teenagers are spending hours upon hours of their day using media, then why not meet them where they are: online. If libraries make services including eBooks available in a way that is easy to access, in a format that teenagers already enjoy, in a medium they can already navigate, then they will read. With 84% of high schoolers and 60% of middle school students owning cell phones in 2010 (C&R Research as cited in Engel & Green, 2011), they could have access to libraries and eBooks 24 hours a day 7 days a week. "Evans (2005) makes a compelling argument for connecting portable literacy with students who are already surrounded by gadgets and technology- it is their medium of preference" (as cited in Miranda et. al, 2011).

Ohio has adopted the New Common Core Standards to drive curriculum and teaching to prepare students for college and career readiness in the 21st Century; librarians simultaneously strive to support teachers and students through the standards set out for them in the library guidlines. CLICK HERE to read more. For school libraries to meet the needs of 21st Century learners, "Teen librarians also need to become a part of the discussion about successfully integrating e-books into collection development, marketing, programming, and outreach" (Braun, 2011, p. 28).

Benefits of Building an eCollection

  • Focus: Reluctant readers focus more, read more quickly, use the hyperlinked dictionary (without being prompted), and are more engaged overall reading on an e-reader versus print books (Miranda et. al, 2011).
  • Collaboration: Some eBook platforms allow for online group discussion and sharing of highlighted passages: "The ability to discuss with others something in a book at the time an idea strikes, not two weeks later, helps guarantee that a teen is able to articulate thoughts about a book successfully" (Braun, 2011).
  • Motivation: "Boys who struggle in reading may profit from reading on an e-reader, simply because the act of reading has greater value to them. More value may lead to more engagement, and more engagement may build stronger skills in reading for boys" (Miranda et al., 2011).
  • Convenience: Backlighting in devices means students can read where ever and whenever they choose, including under the covers at night; e-readers and phones are less bulky than a print book and are capable of storing many books at once (Stephens, 2012).
  • Privacy: According to Miranda (et al., 2011), ". . .e-readers may provide a more private, efficient way of assigning or selecting appropriate texts for a student’s reading level, especially for middle school students who struggle with reading. Many low-level readers would prefer for their peers to not know the level of books that they are reading, and e-readers could easily house a wide variety of texts on appropriate levels."
  • Relevancy: With the new Common Core State Standards calling for students to read more nonfiction and wrestle with authentic research projects, a
  • read.jpg
    thriving eBook collection can be a valuable tool to supplement print resources and online databases with the most currently available nonfiction texts.
  • Access: Many eBooks integrate into the library catalog and are accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In this way, the virtual library is always open for teenagers who have come to expect instant gratification to meet their information needs.
  • Marketing: The same devices used for reading e-books can help students access the library's e-collections as well as other resources, which could help market the physical library's holdings, too. For example, Braun (2011) suggests librarians, "use QR Codes in the library, on the library Web site, on library e-catalog pages, and so on to give teens easy access to lists of materials available in e-format."

Issues to Consider

What information resources does the collection need?
Before jumping in with both feet first, it would be wise to survey the existing print resources and online databases to see where the collection is lacking. Also, survey the population to see what students, teachers, and administrators would like to see from the addition of eBooks, and develop a selection plan to cater to users' needs.

What devices do students already own?
It would be worthwhile to survey the student population to determine how many already own devices that can be used to read eformats such as smartphones, iPads, Kindles, or Nooks (Braun, 2011, p. 28).

Will the library provide eReaders to bridge the digital gap?
As a school library with the mission of educating all students, it is important to remember that not all students have access to technology. U.S. Census data reports that 23.4 percent of all three to seventeen year olds live in a household without Internet access (as cited in Hill, 2010). According to a Pew survey conducted in 2013, 42% of teenagers aged 16 and above own their own tablets and 32% have e-reading devices (cited in ALA, 2014). That means that a majority of students do NOT own these devices!

For economically disadvantaged students, it makes sense for a school library to find ways to provide access to e-readers, whether this be through writing grants or reallocating budgeted funds. Wal-Mart funded Kindles in reading rooms in Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and "As many as 21 percent of respondents to a 2011 School Library Journal survey were circulating e-readers, enabling teens to experience the hardware firsthand" (as cited in Stephens, 2012, p. 28).

How will libraries cover the cost of eBooks?
LIbrarians might already have access to eBooks through their subscription databases such as EBSCO-host, or, even better, they can tap into completely free resources like Hathi Trust and Project Gutenberg and others that are specific to their state or region such as InfOhio.

Librarians will probably have to reallocate funds, write grants, and/or pitch the idea to the school board. The video (created as a project for Kent State University's Access to Information course) is one example of how to sell the idea to the administration and school board:

What is in the fine print?
  • Are the eBooks interactive or offer an extension beyond the print version?
  • Are books readable online only or are they downloadable?
  • What platforms are supported (i.e. Can students read on tablets, phones, PCs, Kindles)?
  • Will students need to download a special app and is it free?
  • Will students be able to search in your regular catalog to find the eBooks (i.e. Does the company provide MARC records)?
  • Can one person read a book at a time or can multiple users check out the same titles?
  • Does the library own (for perpetuity) or license books (i.e. Does the book disappear when a subscription runs out)?
  • Are there limits to the number of downloads per book (i.e. Will you have to eventually repurchase the book)?
  • Will you need to renew a yearly subscription?
  • Is the price a flat fee subscription or is it adjusted based on size of school district or is it figured per book checked out?

The American Library Association released a report that details the state of American Libraries (2014); CLICK HERE to read the most current copyright laws concerning the distribution of eBooks to libraries; the availability and price of eBooks are ongoing roadblocks to providing access to users.

Ebook Providers

Listed is just a sampling of available eBook providers and their various offerings and terms. For a more complete listing, CLICK HERE to read an article from School Library Journal's The Digital Shift.

Baker & Taylor's digital media circulation platform for libraries. Boasts ease of use for librarians and patrons, offers multiple eBook formats in one purchase, integrates with the ILS (the online catalog), and has tools built in to help build a balanced print and eBook collection. Annual fees are based on school size, and many titles are purchased with a perpetual license.

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An online collection of eBooks, audio books, graphic novels, and enhanced novels aligned to the Common Core, Tumble Book Cloud is geared towards middle and high school students although there is an elementary school option, too. A one-year subscription ($699) with password protection enables students unlimited access to the collection, allowing for multiple users. Materials are available online only (not downloadable) and are not integrated into the catalog.

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Follett's eBook platform integrates with the online catalog and eBooks can be purchased one by one or as a collection, many of which are aligned to the Common Core Curriculum. Options are available for unlimited use of materials by multiple users or as a one to one arrangement (i.e. the book can only be checked out by one patron at a time). Books are readable on many devices, but users must download an app first.

The largest eBook provider for libraries, OverDrive has over 350, 000 books available to school ages k-12. The yearly subscription makes many publisher's books widely available, but on different terms of use. Many publishers have a one book per patron policy, and some publishers limit check outs to 26 times per title while others grant perpetual licenses. The platform is available for free and compatible with many devices.

Offering a collection of thousands of books geared specifically to school libraries, Brain Hive has invented its own eBook pricing model. With no subscriptions fees, school libraries simply pay one dollar per book checked out. The librarian controls the budget to be allocated, oversees the collections to be accessed, and reaps the benefits of usage data. Brain Hive is compatible with the major platforms and supports multiple user access to titles as well as an option to buy popular titles. MARC records are available, too.

CLICK HERE to read more about current business models being used to market eBooks to school libraries in an article from American Libraries website by Christopher Harris.


Last but certainly not least, school librarians must remember to advocate not just within their districts to build eBook collections, but also in the world at large. Unfortunately, from their infancy eBooks have been slowly rolled out to libraries, and publishers continue to hold the reigns and call the shots when determining lending leases, pricing, and subscriptions. Summarizing the major issues, Jeannette Woodward, author of The Transformed Library: E-Books, Expertise, and Evolution (2013) puts it this way, "Major publishers and publishing associations seem to fear that libraries could circulate ebooks to thousands of readers, decimating their profits. 'These fears are, of course, largely unfounded,' Woodward says, 'but they are making it very difficult for libraries to purchase the ebooks demanded by their patrons. Some publishers refuse to work with libraries, while others insist on charging libraries many times the prices paid by their other customers'" (as cited in ALA, 2014).

By joining forces, school libraries have more bargaining power and a stronger voice to communicate their needs to publishers. One library in Topeka, Kansas, created a nonprofit organization in 2012 to bring awareness to the issue and compiled over 10, 000 signatures on a petition that was mailed to the big six publishers reminding them that: "Reading is your business, reading is our business, reading is everyone's business" and pleading that libraries deserve to provide all ebooks in all formats to all readers. CLICK HERE to read more about their project.


Braun, L. (2011). Now is the time: Ebooks, teens, and libraries. Young Adult Library Services, 9(4), 27-30.

Ebooks and copyright issues. (n.d.). American Library Association. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://www.ala.org/news/state-americas-libraries-report-2014/e-books

eBooks for Libraries - Reading is everyone's business. (2013, May 1). eBooks for Libraries. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from http://ebooksforlibraries.com/

Engle, G., & Green, T. (2011). Cell phones in the classroom: Are we dialing up disaster?. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55(2), 39-45.

Harris, C., Hasenyager, R., & Russel, C. (2014, June 10). School library ebook business models. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved July 29, 2014, fromhttp://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/school-library-ebook-business-models

Hill, R. (2010). The world of multitasking teens: How library programming is changing to meet these needs. Young Adult Library Services, 8(4), 33-36.

Miranda, T., Williams-Rossi, D., Johnson, K., & McKenzie, N. (2011). Reluctant readers in middle school: Successful engagement with text using the e-Reader. International Journal of Applied Science and Technology, 1(6), 81-91.

Enis, M., & Bayliss, S. (2013, September 3). SLJ's school ebook market directory: the digital Shift. The Digital Shift. Retrieved July 29, 2014, fromhttp://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/09/ebooks/sljs-school-ebook-market-directory/

Stephens, W. (2012). In a more digital direction: Serving teens with e-readers. Young Adult Library Services, 10(4), 28-30.

To read or not to read: A question of national consequence. (n.d.).The National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from http://arts.gov/sites/default/files/ToRead.pdf