Digging into the data: ebooks and students

Are high school students eager to use library ebooks or ebooks in general? Working at a 1:1 campus, I’m curious about their ebook habits and have decided to spend this year investigating our students’ habits more deeply.

As we enter our fourth year of 1:1 devices, it’s clear some students are using them for classwork, some for leisure reading, but how many?

The buzz around ebooks has been hot, but are our school library statistics showing high usage?  And if not, is it because of the platforms themselves, the lack of knowledge about library ebooks, or just a general hesitance about ebooks on the part of students?   After examining our library ebook statistics last spring, it fed my curiosity and I wanted to get more granular knowledge of how our own students are engaging with ebooks.

I’m in the midst of gathering data via informal assessments, in person interviews, video interviews and an online survey of our seniors.    I’ve also been looking at trends in the national research to inform my purchasing decisions(Thanks to SLJ/LJ and Pew for that).

All of this resulted in a recent presentation at Internet Librarian which is embedded below.  I want to be clear that this all is a result of my ponderings, and I’ve reached no rock solid conclusion.   As you will see from the data in the presentation, our students are using ebooks, although they are rather split on ebook usage in general, but they are not engaging with library-provided ebooks in significant numbers.  The publicity we have done has also not garnered a lot of their attention, which pains me, but leads to further questions too.

So far these investigations have raised as many questions as answers:

How can our library promotions about ebooks better resonate with students?
What role can teachers play in book promotion in general?
What role can students play in helping publicize any new service?
What is the library role in informing vendors about poor products?

Sharing this data is in no way meant to imply that I think libraries shouldn’t be acquiring and building ebook libraries, because I feel sure with changing demographics, ebooks will become more prevalent and more natural for students.  But the costs of acquiring ebooks, and poor publishing arrangements(forcing libraries to repurchase some titles every 12 months), coupled with misconceptions on the part of administrators and architects about our “actual student” versus our imaginary digital native, leave us with a lot of unanswered questions and dilemmas.

As the year goes on, I’ll be continuing to drill down into the data and conduct more student interviews in an attempt to gain a much better understanding of how students are interacting with ebooks, so more to come….

Ebooks: What we can learn fro…

More PowerPoint presentations from C Foote

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