A selection of eBook titles available through OverDrive with St Andrew’s College
I took the opportunity in the last week of Term 2 to sit down with Cathy Kennedy, the Library Manager at St Andrew’s College, and discuss the implementation of eBooks in the College libraries. Having personally used various eBook readers, from Kindles to iPads, I was keen to learn more about the journey to arrive at the current solution in place.
Due to the length of this post you may want to skip down to the various sections below which include:
- Benefits of OverDrive
- Uptake amongst students
- Promoting eBooks at the College
Since around 2010 Cathy had been closely watching the development of eBooks and was always keen to introduce them to the students here at St Andrew’s, however it was not until OverDrive came to Australasia and offered a package targeted at schools that it became truly viable. Prior to this, there had been other vendors but they were too expensive and their solutions were still really in their infancy and not easy to implement. OverDrive was an obvious choice because:
- It already had massive market share in the public library sector
- The option existed to form a “consortium” with other schools and combine your respective eBook libraries to increase the size of the total collection
- It combined with our existing Library Management System “Oliver” from Softlink meaning that there was only one platform from which students could access all their books, in both paper and electronic formats.
- Audiobooks were supported and could be accessed by our students in the same way as eBooks.
- Fantastic support materials, both technically and from a promotional perspective, with posters and videos to help our students use the system easily.
After enquiring about other schools in Christchurch that might be interested in setting up a consortium and sharing eBook collections, Cathy found there were no equivalent Year 1-13 schools keen to partner and so she decided to go it alone in Term 3, 2013.
Deciding on a “soft launch” first, the new eBook library was introduced to staff only in Term 4, 2013, before students were given access to the full collection in Term 1, 2014. Now six months on, Cathy is satisfied with the decision to go it alone and not partner with another school, as it has allowed her greater control over the selection of titles in the growing library. Interestingly, she did comment that:
For smaller schools, the appeal of a consortium must be very high, as the price of entry into eBooks is not cheap. To be able to quickly grow your catalogue with another school would make it significantly more affordable.
Benefits of OverDrive:
A shot of the interface used by the Library to help identify potential new eBook Purchases.
One of the biggest drawcards for using OverDrive is the wide range of publishers that are supported, allowing the library to select from a massive number of titles. The pricing model is based on an annual subscription, half of which covers the support of the platform itself, and the other half is credit towards eBook purchases for that year. I thought this was a rather smart “hook” by OverDrive to guarantee a minimum number of eBook purchases by schools each year, whilst it does meant that the students benefit from a continual supply of new titles.
To assist with the selection of new titles, the interface used by the Librarians shows a “Top 200” titles in various categories that we currently do not own (see screenshot on the right). From this, it’s easy to sort through Young Adult, Fiction, Audiobooks etc to locate popular titles that could be added the collection.
OverDrive supports two formats for eBooks
- OverDrive Read: allowing a user to read the eBook directly within the web browser on their device
- ePub: one of the more established eBook formats on the internet and supported by apps on tablets and smart phones and requires the use of Adobe Digital Editions
Additionally, OverDrive eBooks can be read on most common eBook readers including iPads and Nooks, with the major omission currently being the Amazon Kindle. This is being supported in the Northern Hemisphere and Cathy is hopeful that support for the Kindle may be available in 2015. Student laptops can also be used to read eBooks on as well.
As mentioned earlier, the integration with Oliver was crucial as this makes it easy for students to find any title, printed or electronic, from the one platform. An upgrade is planned to support “ezread” which will allow students to borrow eBooks directly from Oliver, without the need to be redirected to OverDrive.
Logging into OverDrive from an iPad and being asked for standard username/password
Furthermore, both Oliver and OverDrive support Single Sign On (SSO), allowing students to use their existing username and password to authenticate to the systems to borrow books. This allows us to restrict younger students from accessing content intended for senior students, as our students are grouped by Year Level.
This level of integration is becoming an increasing requirement for third party products that we look to deploy into the College, as it allows for centralised management of student data and avoids issues of students forgetting their passwords and being dependent on a third party to reset and provide to them.
One of the biggest challenges being experienced is the need to continue to provide new titles in both formats: paper and eBook. Students and staff have not yet fully accepted that a title may only be available in one format or the other, meaning that new titles are effectively being purchased twice. Cathy’s end goal is very clear however: for borrowers to be comfortable reading a title in either format, meaning she only needs to purchase it in one format or the other. Continue reading