Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thing 14: Social Reading & Book Stuff

This assignment comes at a time when I find myself reflecting on the role of libraries and librarians in the 21st century.  For one, Librarians today are faced with more resources and services than ever before!  Some of these seem to compete with our profession - but most undeniably enhance it!  So how do we stay on top of everything going on?!

First of all, I am grateful that this assignment reminded me of at least one cool tool that I once explored, but then lost track of as my busy life rolled on.  I happened to join GoodReads back in April of 2011 when I was taking Tack 1 of this same workshop.  I greatly enjoyed filling my shelves with all the cool titles I had read - only to feel utterly overwhelmed as my inbox became bombarded with posts and comments from my two very active "friends"!  After I altered my email preferences and received fewer communications, I hate to admit that this great resource sort of fell off my radar screen - and was all but forgotten until this assignment came along.

So task number one for me was to reacquaint myself with my GoodReads account.  I just entered a few of the books I've read since December and left a few new comments on the books one of my friends is currently reading.  Won't she be surprised to see my name pop up once again after such a long hiatus?

Once I caught up on that, I visited the "Explore" tab and browsed through Listopia, Giveaways, and Popular - where I stumbled upon a fascinating list called, "Most Read Books This Week in the United States" which lists books marked as finished this week on GoodReads.  It's kind of neat to see what's being read out there!  I was delighted that I recognized - and have read - a good number of the titles!

I also made a quick stop at LibraryThing, but decided if I couldn't keep up with GoodReads, I best not sign up for another similar service.

Finally, I went to LibraryReads, but that seems more geared towards Public Libraries.  I don't think the recommendations fit in well with my K-8 crowd :-) 

That said, the one resource listed in this assignment that I feel I can most knowledgeably comment on is OverDrive, which I use daily both at home and in school.  I love that Dee Portzer has built such a great ebook collection for us through Questar III.  With our dwindling library budgets, this is the only viable source for quality electronic literature some of us have to offer our patrons.  Dee wisely gave many of us 5 NookColors at the same time she was promoting Questar's OverDrive collection, and I know that's what hooked us!  If I go in to my catalog and look up the most circulated title in the collection, it is always the "NookColor" and has been since I started lending them out 2 years ago!

My students were so smitten with the NookColors that I bought 16 more Nook SimpleTouch last summer - but that was a BIG mistake.  I should have stuck with the more expensive, tablet-like Nook.  The SimpleTouch illustrate the principle that "you get what you pay for". 

Anyway, I am so thrilled to be able to provide my students with an opportunity to use these devices and to check out ebooks through OverDrive.  It makes such a difference to struggling readers when they can enjoy a text that is accessible to them without their peers seeing the size of the book.  It also engages reluctant readers who may buy into it if for nothing more than the novelty of the device.  If it gets them reading - GREAT!

If I were to bring up one draw back to having Nooks as part of my circulating Library collection, though, it would have to be with Adobe Digital Editions.  What a headache!  The hours my tech person and I have lost to their unhelpful customer support *SIGH*  As some of you may know, Adobe allows you to register up to 6 devices per email account.  Not a big deal.  I figured if I made 4 accounts, I'd be able to register and load all 21 of my Nooks for students from school.  Well, in theory it should work - but in practice we have experienced a wide variety of issues.  Sometime the Nooks spontaneously come up with "User not activated" or "Invalid user" error messages after they have been successfully loaded with borrowed books.  It's been an odyssey to be sure!  Some days I rue the day these evil devices came into my possession, but then on the days they work, I remember what it's all about: bringing books to our patrons - in any way that we can!

As for myself, I'm probably 50/50 in terms of using my own Nook and print books.  There's much to say for both formats.  I will admit, I love my public library system's even bigger OverDrive collection, though - which I can access 24/7 - not only during my local branch's limited open hours.  

So here's to social reading and book "stuff"!  We have come far, but I have no doubt that MUCH more is yet to come.  Bring it on....