E-book & E-reader Overload
In the past ten days I feel like I’ve been suffering from e-book overload. I attended the day-long virtual E-Book Summit on October 12 and then gave two presentations on e-books/e-readers to different school librarian groups on October 18 & 19. Last night I capped off my immersion with the monthly Library E-reader User Group meeting. Today, I took a break from this technology and concentrated on producing bookmarks using MS Publisher just to get my mind cleared, so I can do a presentation for Michigan Library Association’s Annual Conference next week. Guess what my topic will be … yep, e-books and e-readers!
One of the great things about giving talks to various groups is that I get out of the “public library world” and learn how others are using e-book technology in their professions. My interaction with school media specialists online at the E-Book Summit as well as in person at the two talks made me realize how far apart our worlds are at this moment. K-12 schools see a vastly different use for e-readers in their classrooms, promoting them as learning aids for special needs students and those who may be reading on a lower level than their classmates. I had never realized how the very nature of an e-reader gives the student a level of privacy so that others don’t have to see that he or she might be reading a 3rd grade level book while in the 5th grade. Media specialists also shared with me how color displays (on the Nook Color) made reading easier for dyslexic students in their classes. I came away from my presentations feeling that I was the one who had really gone to learn about e-books rather than me being the one imparting the information.
Although I can see a lower level of e-book/e-reader usage in the educational institutions than in the public sector, everyone I met either virtually or in person knows that this technology will have a profound influence on teaching techniques and information delivery in the upcoming years. Already e-reader vendors (Barnes & Noble in particular) are reaching out to educators in large school districts touting their various products. Based on the popularity of the Nook Color in the schools around here, I’m not at all surprised at Amazon Kindle’s new release of the Kindle Fire. This is a huge potential market!
As I slowly digest all of the notes I took at the virtual Summit, and think about the exchanges I had with my fellow librarians over these past weeks, I know I’ll be more aware of the expanding role of e-books not only in my public library world, but also in the various schools around my state.