As we sprint, head down, toward the 21st century learning model most of us are treating our cases of information overload daily (I found wine and deep breaths help tremendously). Recently I have seen anxiety in many articles, blogs, Tweets—I even spoke to some real live people—regarding adding eBooks into a library collection. Some argue that we should not limit vendors, but rather add eBooks as we add print resources: from multiple vendors and publishers. Others say that you should pick one vendor and stick with it. There is also a disagreement about whether to develop fiction or non-fiction collections first. Here is what I have advised my librarians for now:
Stick to One Vendor for Now
I know this is going against the grain for some people, but we have to be realistic and do what is best for us. We serve 24,500 students and over 3,000 staff and it is better to present one platform--one method—through which our patrons can access eBooks rather than overwhelm them with several different technologies to learn. We don’t want them to get discouraged. Since Follett provides content that integrates seamlessly into Destiny, we would be remiss not to go with them. Unlike other vendors and content, I can track circulations, monitor and report on usage history, and integrate records into our catalog just as I would a print resource. In a time when we still have to tighten our belts, the reporting feature alone is invaluable. Being able to report usage statistics can help guide us as we develop collections and justify spending to our Administrations.
Collect For Your Patrons, Not For Yourself
With Common Core coming down the pipeline (2014 here in California) there will be a high demand for non-fiction titles. But we have to be realistic, with the paradigm shifting to patrons seeking non-fiction in digital format (i.e. a Google search for a quick fact rather than using a print encyclopedia), it’s not in our patrons’ best interest to continue to heavily develop print non-fiction—as much as we may want to. I recommend that school LMTs collect only high interest non-fiction and abstain from adding anything that overlaps content available in our digital databases or eBooks. On the contrary, I have seen study after study (and believe it or not, even had some real life experiences) which say that patrons still like to read fiction in print. So let’s give them what they want.
As needs and demands change, so too will we. If we can go from etching in stone, to carving on clay tablets, to papyrus scrolls, to the printed word, we can certainly shift to digital content. We are librarians after all, and we have been doing this for a long time.
Ruth is the Supervisor of Library Services at Tustin Unified School District. Ruth spent most of her childhood at the beach or with her nose in a book—oftentimes both. Though reading and writing are her passions, promoting libraries, librarians, and information literacy is the foundation of her personal and professional objectives.
She lives with her husband and their French Bulldog in Irvine, California. Ruth will also be pinning resources for her Learning Library column on our Pinterest account-http://www.pinterest.com/follettsoftware. You can comment on this blog or follow her on Twitter @AskMissLIS.