This week, our guest blogger is Genna Buhr. Genna is the Public Services Manager at Fondulac District Library. Her detailed post explains how FDL created their Book-A-Nook program with help from the library’s Friends group. WebJunction Illinois would like to Thank Genna for sharing her experiences with our learning community!
In December 2012, Fondulac District Library launched a new service, the Book-a-Nook eReader loan program.
Through participation in Alliance Digital Media Library, a central Illinois OverDrive consortium, Fondulac District Library was already lending eBooks to patrons who read them on their own eReaders, computers, tablets, and smartphones. However, we continuously had patrons express interest in eBooks, but who had not yet acquired devices of their own. They often noted their hesitation in using the new technology and weren’t ready to make a monetary investment in a piece of equipment they weren’t sure they would like. Our library wants to promote reading, regardless of the format it takes, so providing the opportunity for patrons to test-drive an eReader seemed like a great fit. Granted, one can peruse eReaders at a store, but reading two pages on a device in a store is a completely different experience than navigating and reading an entire novel in everyday life and situations.
The library’s goal isn’t necessarily to provide access to all types of eReaders, as the options grow and change nearly daily, or to provide devices to which patrons could download OverDrive eBooks. Rather, the objective of Book-a-Nook is to provide access to the experience of reading on an electronic device. In approaching the decision of which eReaders to use in our project, we found that Barnes & Noble’s Nooks offered affordable e-ink and backlit color options, easy prevention of unauthorized purchases on library credit, and library-friendly local support.
After researching estimated costs for equipment and accessories, I approached our Friends group to see if it would be interested in underwriting this new service. It offered the group a tangible and very visible project to tie their name to and required minimal effort on their part. They agreed and fronted $1,000 to start the program. The donation covered the purchase cost of all necessary equipment, as well as about $100 towards the initial content. Additional content, which includes best-selling, bargain, and free titles, was purchased using the collection budget.
FDL’s Book-a-Nook program makes five Nooks available for checkout to patrons who wish to try the electronic reading experience or just wish to borrow an eReader to have access to many titles at one time (like on a vacation!). We’ve also used the devices to provide titles to large print readers when we didn’t own the title in large print hard copy and to provide a title to a reader when our copy was checked out.
Of the five Nook devices available for checkout, three are Nook Simple Touch eReaders and two are Nook Tablets. Each of the library’s Nooks is preloaded with adult, teen, and children’s eBooks, including mystery, romance, classic, non-fiction, and best-selling titles. The titles are purchased directly from Barnes & Noble, and purchases are managed by the library (not through the Barnes & Noble institutional service). Nook books can be loaded onto up to six devices on the same account, so the purchases are all made from one library account. We originally considered “specializing” the titles on each of the Nooks, (e.g. all mysteries on one device, all kids on another), but decided against it. Because each title can be downloaded to each device (without additional cost), we decided to increase the title options on each device and reduce the wait time (so as not to have to wait for a specific device). The patron does choose whether to reserve a Simple Touch or Tablet. Having all of the titles available across multiple devices does come with a drawback. Because they are on a shared account, if the wi-fi is on, the devices will sync to the other devices in regard to the home page display of the last title/page read. We circulate the devices with the wi-fi turned off and warn of this potential occurrence with a label on the inside of the device cover. We feel this is an acceptable issue in lieu of the alternatives of only having titles available on one device or buying separate copies for every device.
The library’s Nook Tablets contain additional, interactive titles for younger children, as well as a few educational apps appealing to all ages, that are only compatible with app-based or color Nooks. Complete lists of titles on the devices are available in the Nook Simple Touch and Nook Tablet records in the library’s catalog.
To reduce confusion when circulating, we numbered the Nooks and refer to them by their number (Nook 1, etc.). We outfitted each Nook with a screen protector, an inexpensive cover (each number a different color), USB charging cable and AC adapter, a laminated user guide, and a padded fabric carrying case. Each Nook is loaded with a custom screensaver/wallpaper image acknowledging library ownership and contact information, as well the Friends’ donation that made the program possible. Each carrying case also has a laminated tag with the same information, as well as the Nook’s number.
Any patron at least 18 years old with a valid library card and a photo ID can check out an eReader for 21 days. Lending is not limited to Fondulac District Library cardholders, but, for equipment safety, all pickups and returns must happen at Fondulac District Library’s circulation desk. Borrowing patrons must agree to and sign an eReader loan agreement, which details circulation policies, fines, and replacement fees related to the Book-a-Nook equipment. We have not had any damage or theft as of yet.
Downloading to each device is password-protected, so that patrons cannot download additional content to the device (or accumulate additional charges to the library’s account). Patrons can, however, access the Internet on the Nook Tablets. While access can be disabled, we felt this was an important feature for the devices and one that a patron should be able to utilize when exploring their use. Circulation staff does clear the cache, history, cookie data, form data, location access, and passwords at check in, but, as stated in the loan agreement, the library does not assume responsibility for personal information left on the device.
We’ve been pleased with the response from patrons and consider the Book-a-Nook project an ongoing success. From the December launch to mid-April, the five devices circulated 53 times, of which 13 were from patrons who placed a hold due to all Nooks being checked out. Many patrons have commented that they enjoyed eReading, while others have decided print is a better option for them. However, most all have noted that they were happy to have the opportunity to explore the electronic reading experience without the pressure of a sales atmosphere and with the support of library staff!
Nick Hulva, Fondulac District Library Circulation Manager, demonstrates to Linda Weeks of East Peoria how to access eBooks on the library’s new eReaders available for checkout.
If you have any questions or are interested in our Book-a-Nook policies, procedures, forms, etc., please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org