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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Spotlight: Guest Post: One Step At a Time by Duncan Wright

I am so excited to see how the Kindle introduction is going in the School Library. Over  to Duncan:

One Step at a Time… 

In the 1st instalment of this article (HERE) I explained how we had set up our Kindles for use in the school library including registering the Kindles with Amazon and how we were downloading e-books to our Kindles. The final part of the article will look at how we are managing the Kindles within our school library and possible next steps for their use.

As we only have five Kindles the day to day management is relatively simple. When not in use they are stored in a locked filing cabinet. This is easily accessible from the library desk ensuring that should a pupil request to borrow a Kindle we can get hold of one quickly. The battery life on the Kindle Keyboard is excellent and they do not need charged often. When a Kindle is returned by a user I check the battery percentage and should it have fallen to a low level the Kindle is charged at the library desk. A full charge takes approximately 2 hours and is indicated by the amber light on the Kindle changing to green.

Each of the Kindle books that we have bought is catalogued on our Eclipse Library Management System. This allows students to see which e-books are available via the Pupil OPAC machines and allows me to keep a record of our purchases. (Purchases are of course also stored within the Amazon account that the Kindles are registered to.) Every e-book that we purchase can be downloaded to all five Kindles so each e-book has been catalogued five times, each showing the location as SMC Library Kindle 1, SMC Library Kindle 2, etc. This was a time consuming exercise and shows how Library Management Systems have not yet caught up with the e-book revolution.

Currently our pupil use of the Kindles is restricted to within school. This gives pupils access to a Kindle at break, lunch, after school or if required during lessons. If a pupil wishes to borrow a Kindle they sign up on simple signup sheet at the library desk. Each of our Kindles is numbered and the pupil signs the relevant part of the signup sheet. This allows us to track who has our Kindles and if necessary follow up with previous users should the Kindle be damaged or settings changed. It also allows us to keep some crude statistics on how often they are being used and by whom.

Here are a couple of examples of how the pupils have been using the Kindles.

Two S2 (Year 8) boys have been coming to the library during lunchtime to read a book on the Kindle. They are already reading a novel at home but have chosen to read a different novel on the Kindle. They have said they enjoy reading novels on the Kindle.

Four S4 (Year 10) boys have been using the Kindles in their ‘Extra English’ class. On the 1st week that these four boys arrived in the library they were given the opportunity to read a ‘printed’ book. Although they did eventually settle down and read the book, they were not fully engaged and they took a long time to get fully involved with their book.

The following week the boys were given the opportunity of reading a Kindle book. Each of the boys was keen to use the Kindle and they were engaged with the novel they had chosen almost immediately. They were much quieter and settled down to read much quicker than the previous week. When asked why they preferred to read on the Kindle they said “it did not feel like real reading (!).” At the end of the lesson they asked if they could use the Kindles again next week!

The Kindles have also been used in the classroom by boys who have forgotten their class text and one of our teachers borrowed a Kindle over the October holidays.

Here are some of my thoughts on why our pupils enjoy using the Kindles…

· Because it’s not a book! Or at least to them it doesn’t feel like they are reading a book. It’s just another piece of technology – and they love technology

· Nobody can see what they are reading and then judge them on their choice of book

· They are not put off by the size of a book. Kindles do not show page numbers by default, rather a percentage of the book completed. Pupils feel a sense of achievement in having read e.g. 10% of a book

· If the library doesn’t have a copy of the book they would like to read, we can download a copy instantly. They love doing this!

· They can adjust the text size to something they are comfortable with

· The built-in dictionary allows them to find definitions of words just by using the device

The next step for us is to allow our Kindles to be borrowed by pupils outside of school. This is something that we will take great consideration with and which will need to be discussed and agreed with senior management. Any pupil wishing to borrow a Kindle to take home will be required to complete a ‘Kindle Acceptable Use Agreement’. We have already started to look at what some other schools are doing and hope to draw up our own agreement in the New Year.

It is likely that pupils will be able to borrow the Kindles for one or two weeks(two weeks is our standard loan for books.) The Acceptable Use agreement will include clear guidelines including reference that content must not be downloaded and settings should not be altered. How workable this will be is unclear but it is hoped that our pupils can prove themselves to be trustworthy.

At the moment our philosophy regarding e-books is to give pupils exposure to them. We see the Kindles we have has an opportunity for pupils to explore the technology and experiment with reading electronically. I would love to be able to offer pupils the facility to download e-books from our library to their own devices however at the moment we are restricted from doing this because of the financial implications. A system capable of offering this, e.g. Overdrive as used by Edinburgh public libraries, is out of our league in budgetary terms. In time traditional school suppliers such as Peters or Browns Books for Students may be able to offer similar services but until this point we will continue to offer e-books via our current method.

If anyone is keen to discuss the role of Kindles and e-books in a school library setting you can find me on Twitter on most days - @loveliterature

Huge thanks to Duncan for these posts. I hope he will keep us informed as to the developments with the new technology in the library as it happens. Thanks again


  1. A fascinating post, it's interesting that some view the kindle as not reading and that most people seem more engaged in a kindle book versus a paperback or hardback.

  2. Thank you so much for these posts, they've made such interesting reading.

  3. I think this is a really good idea for while at school xx


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