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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Spotlight: Guest Post: A Brave New World by Duncan Wright

It is my great pleasure to welcome Duncan Wright to Book Angel Booktopia today, this is where I turn into a librarian fan-girl as Duncan was School Librarian of the Year 2010, he kindly agreed to write a guest post for me on the introduction of Kindle's into school libraries. Something that I have been interested to learn more about alongside fellow School Librarian Becky of The Bookette. Without further waffling from me over to Duncan:

A Brave New World…

In June our school library was given kindly given funding by our Former Pupil Council to purchase five Kindles for our school library.  Having initially requested funding for only one, this came as quite a surprise and required me to revaluate how we would use and manage the Kindles within our library.  What follows is very much our story so far as we embark on an e-book adventure…

We purchased our Kindles directly from Amazon as the price was relatively universal with no real discounts available elsewhere.  As we were buying in June the smaller keyboard less Kindle had not yet been launched so we opted to buy what is now called the Kindle Keyboard. We bought the Wi-Fi only version and did not opt for 3G.  Taking away the 3G option gives us much more control over what can be downloaded onto our Kindles. In addition to purchasing the Kindles we also bought leather covers to offer the Kindles some protection from the grubby mitts and general carelessness of teenagers. The covers we bought were relatively inexpensive (approximately £10) and were recommended to us by a pupil who already owned a Kindle.
Our Kindles arrived just before the end of the summer term, much to the excitement of our Pupil Librarians who I had promised would be given the first look. They all thought it was extremely cool that the library was now the owner of five Kindles!  

Before everyone set off on their summer holidays I asked our Finance office to order the library a £100 Amazon gift certificate so that I could purchase books for the Kindle during the summer holidays. However before purchasing anything the Kindles required to be set up.

I waited until the peace and quiet of the summer holidays to embark fully on the set up of the Kindles however in hindsight this wasn’t really necessary. I found the Kindles very intuitive and the set up procedure was pretty simple. Although we have a Wi-Fi connection in the school library I took the decision to register the Kindles at home using my own Wi-Fi connection. This would again limit the opportunities for pupils to download material onto the Kindles. 

To register a Kindle you must have an Amazon account. If you own more than one Kindle, as the library does, you can register each Kindle to the same account. By doing this any books purchased for the Kindles will be downloaded onto each of the separate Kindles, with you only paying once for the e-book. I sought clarification on this from Amazon as it did at first seem a little bit too good to be true. This was their response in June 2011 and I am unaware that this information has changed in any way.  

“There is no limit on the number of times Kindle content can be downloaded to a registered Kindle device or application. Publishers determine how many copies of each title can be downloaded to different Kindle devices or applications at the same time so there may be limits on the number of devices (usually six) that can simultaneously have a single book or Kindle active content title.”

This is a major difference to how Amazon operates in the USA and things may, and most probably will, change in the UK as the popularity of the Kindle increases. This would be a real shame as at the moment this is one of the most appealing features of the Kindle.  

I am aware that Buffy Hamilton (Unquiet Librarian) a school librarian working in the USA encountered various problems around this issue and as a result has moved away from using Kindles. 

With our Kindles registered the next step was to download material for the Kindles.  This can be done in two ways. Either browsing the Kindle store directly from the Kindle which obviously requires a Wi-Fi connection, or browsing the Kindle store on the Amazon main web page and then downloading the books via USB (using the cable supplied) from the PC. I have found the easiest way to purchase books is to browse directly from the Kindle device.  

Once a book is purchased it will download automatically to the device in less than ten seconds. It also downloads to the ‘archived items’ folder of any other Kindles registered to this email address meaning that as soon as another device is switched on, it is a simple case of accessing the archived items folder and downloading the book, again in a number of seconds.

The second method is a little more cumbersome, especially if downloading to numerous devices but I have used it within the library. If a pupil is looking for a particular book on the Kindle that we do not have I have offered to download the book there and then for them, using the USB cable.  They love it when I do this as it feels like they have had the book delivered personally to them! All of e-books are purchased using Amazon gift certificates which allow us to purchase books in this way.

By the time the new term started at the end of August our Kindles had approximately 50 books available on each device.  I decided to ‘soft launch’ the Kindles in order that any teething problems could be sorted out in the early stages, although I did bring them to the attention of each of our S1 induction classes. I also asked our Pupil Librarians to spread the word amongst their peers and tweeted about the Kindles on the library twitter account. This generated more than enough interest and the 1st few days of the new term saw lots of pupils asking to look at the Kindles.  The general consensus was that they were a good thing and they certainly reflected the library in a positive manner. 

In the next instalment of this article I will discuss how we are the managing the use of our Kindles, what the pupil reaction to them has been, and what the next steps are for us in the use of e-books in the library.

Duncan Wright
Librarian at Stewart’s Melville College, Edinburgh.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is such an interesting post. I shall look forward to the next instalment.


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