The Role of E-Books in School Libraries
Since the Kindle and other e-reader have been available, there’s been speculation of how they would do in the K-12 environment. A few schools across the US have piloted programs that provide Kindles for students. The Kindles would hold all of the student’s textbooks and any other school related reading material.
This past year is the first year that kids have had a real opportunity to use a Kindle. It is now cheap and easy enough for them to use. it also now includes a huge collection of children’s books and games.
A recent article in American Libraries, a publication run by the American Library Association, focused on e-books in school libraries. I was surprised to read that a lot of the books commonly read in K-12 are not available on the Kindle yet, like The Catcher in the Rye or To Kill A Mockingbird. There are many classics currently available on the Kindle for free, however.
There are still many hang ups before school libraries can provide e-books, but the Kindle Library Lending program has shown great success in public libraries. So I can definitely see it coming to school libraries in the near future. Getting the publishers on board and establishing a payment plan are the biggest hurdles.
Now, on to the benefits. If Kindles and e-books were available in school libraries, the lure of technology would be enough to entice more kids into reading. The point that the article made about seeing one page at a time is a really good one. A lot of kids get overwhelmed by thick books, and often compare thickness to how advanced their reading level is. Kids can feel free to read what they enjoy and not worry about what their peers might think.
The future will bring much lighter backpacks. Now that the Kindle Fire is out and is more graphic friendly than traditional e-ink versions, graphic heavy textbooks have a better platform to use. All textbooks and other reading material can be stored in one tiny little device that is compact enough to fit in a purse.
With a Kindle, there’s no need for large print books. Visually impaired children can carry a Kindle around just like everyone else, and can adjust the font to fit their needs. The Kindle is not accessible for the blind yet, but hopefully this issue will be addressed as more people use e-readers.
Technology is changing the face of libraries and the way we view reading. I am excited to see what the future brings.