“Ready, Set, (W)eRead” is a project made possible from grant funds awarded by CenturyLink. I, along with two other librarians and our district’s library media coordinator, collaborated to build an ebook collection and plan for the implementation of ereaders in our libraries. At the heart of the project is the desire to promote reading and literacy efforts, cultivate a love of and excitement for reading, and increase the number of books that are read by students. The purpose of the grant was to redefine how our students perceive and read books. In essence, it is about redefining library for the 21st Century.
Currently, our school libraries have a limited number of books; many of them are old. Students with mobile devices and who live within the city limits have access to thousands of ebooks through the Springfield Public Library. This project seeks to provide students in rural areas with access to an online ebook collection. By providing this access, students will have the opportunity to read more and have access to a wider variety of books.
To begin with, we needed a device that would allow students to download an ebook and read it offline. Though the grant was awarded in December of 2011, it has taken quite a bit of time to research a tool that was user friendly, easy to manage, and that would accommodate ebooks that could be accessed by a wide range of devices. Once we ruled out some of the more popular ereaders (Kindle and Nook) due to management issues and lack of versatility, we ended up settling on the iPad. We made up our minds after the updated version of our online catalog software, Follett’s Destiny, was released in late January. The update made accessing ebooks easy, especially when followed by the release of the app for Destiny Quest and Follett Reader for both the iPad and Android devices soon after. Accessing our library’s ebooks has never been easier. The project had enough funds to allow for the purchase of approximately 350 ebooks and ten iPad 2s for each of the three participating schools.
In effort to seek out students who might benefit most from this highly motivational reading tool, librarians collaborated with teachers to assign two students each to an iPad. The iPad will alternate between each student on a weekly basis. Students will take the iPad to and from school daily, checking it in with their homeroom teacher and charging it in the classroom, if necessary. We are in the beginning phases of implementation as we invite parents to a mandatory informational meeting. Hopefully, by the second week in May, students will have iPads in their hands, as we seek to get this project off the ground. Check the blog page for updates on how this project progresses.