Nooks

Nook Program @ The Unquiet Library Update, March 2012

Catching Up

Many of you have been writing or Tweeting for updates on the Nook program we had planned to launch last fall; unfortunately, several factors slowed our launch date for the program, including:

  • a lack of clerical help this academic year
  • an incredibly busy schedule of instruction (a good problem to have!) in the library; since the teaching and learning focus comes first, we prioritize our energies into that effort first
  • significant delays in the communication process with Barnes and Noble in processing our ebook purchase orders

At this time, we own 50 Nook Simple Touches; Nooks 1-35 are designated with our Barnes and Noble Managed Digital Locker program for classroom use, which could include literature circle book study or independent reading selections.  Nooks 36-50 are for circulation to students who return a parental permission form or who would like to use them in the library during a class or lunch visit.  I worked with Dan Boon, my Community Relations Manager at the Alpharetta Barnes and Noble,  to establish groups of Nooks so that it would be easy for B&N to deliver the eBooks we order via purchase order to the appropriate Nook devices.

Challenges with the Digital Managed Locker Program

In terms of the digital managed locker program, there have definitely been some problems that I have experienced as have many of you.

1.  Barnes and Noble has frankly not done a very good job in educating its employees about the Digital Managed Locker program.  As you can imagine, librarians who are trying to inquire and find out more information about the program feel frustrated when they can’t get the answers they need, and the B&N employees also feel frustrated that they may not have been provided the information and training they need to help implement the program with school librarians or classroom teachers in an effective manner.  I know these concerns have been concerned to B&N management from those of us in the trenches as well as from employees, so I’m hopeful they are committed to being more systematic in communicating the information more effectively.  If you are not able to get the answers you need from someone at the first store you visit or call, I recommend contacting a neighboring store or the regional Barnes and Noble manager for your area.

2.  In some store locations, the community relations manager or person designated as the “go to” person for the Digital Managed Locker program is just swamped with multiple responsibilities; consequently, they may have difficulty dealing with the communications from librarians or teachers in a timely manner.  Since there is no electronic/virtual  interface at this time that librarians can access to submit purchase orders and manage eBook (or app) orders, eBook orders can be delayed significantly when there are gaps in communication.  We as librarians and teachers desperately need a virtual interface to manage these orders; email is simply not an efficient means of managing the orders; we as customers need the option of having more control over reassigning texts to different devices if needed.  While I appreciate that B&N is doing a lot of the management for me, I need to be able to have a point of access to do it myself when needed.

Our local store and representative are committed to helping B&N address these concerns; I very much appreciate that Dan has shared my suggestions for improving the communication channels and order management with those who work at a higher level in the company.  In addition, I appreciate that Dan is willing to come out to my school site if I need assistance with devices.

In terms of technical issues, they have been minimal so far.   We have not had any issues connecting to wireless, and the downloading process has been fairly seamless.  We did have one device go bad as we could not unlock it; after not having any success with the 1-800 technical support, our representative Dan was helpful in resolving the issue and actually bringing us a replacement device (a major time saver–thank you!).  We did have one device not receive the appropriate eBooks assigned to that device, but we are working on resolving that issue as we speak.  One other helpful hint:  it took me a while to realize that the power button is on the back of the Nook; thankfully, the covers we bought are designed to stay on and have the Nook symbol on them so that you can press it and power the device off and on without having to remove the cover.

First Steps of Implementation, Spring 2012

We have now started circulating devices to students for free reading (yes, I let them take the devices home—students and parents sign an acceptable use agreement, and we also bought a 2 year warranty), so I hope to have their feedback for you soon.  The initial impressions, though, have been very positive–students really seem to like the “swipe” technology as well as the size of the devices (it fits in their pockets).   One student in particular is absolutely thrilled to have the chance to use a modern eReader—I am not exaggerating when I say he was giddy and glowing when he left the library!  At this time, the free circulation Nook collection (36-50) is purely student driven like our Kindle eBook collection since students submit eBook request forms when they turn in their permission forms).   At this time, the loan period is one week although we hope to extend that in the future.

Our other initial pilot group is Deborah Frost’s 1st period  9th Literature/Composition class.  The majority of the class, boys, chose to read Monster by Walter Dean Myers; the remainder of the class, girls, selected The Secret Life of Bees.  Since many of the students in the class are self-described reluctant readers, we”ll be surveying them regularly about their reading experiences on the Nooks to see if the medium of reading has any impact on their feelings about reading.  The students are excited  (as are we!) to be the first pilot group; I hope to provide some updates in April when they finish their unit of study.

Questions via Email and the Blog

First I want to apologize if you have emailed me in the last month, and I have not answered your email individually.  For the last year or so, I have tried very hard to answer each inquiry individually and in a timely manner.  However, the number of inquiries has come to a tipping point, and I’m just not able to continue answering inquiries personally at this time.    I’m hopeful that either this blog, my Kindle LibGuide, my Nook LibGuide, or my recent chapter in No Shelf Required II edited by Sue Polanka, will give you the answers you’re seeking; you might also want to follow my Scoop.it magazine on eBooks and eReaders.

I’ve received several emails as of late about how we are circulating the eBooks via our OPAC and tracking what students read.   At this time, there is no way to do either–neither Kindle eBooks on a Kindle device nor a Nook book via a Nook device.   I do not assign MARC records to the eBooks for Kindle or Nook although I do catalog the devices; as I’ve written before, I don’t catalog the Kindle or Nook eBooks individually because 1.  you can’t really “circulate” them via your OPAC and 2.  I don’t assign them to the devices in the MARC record because media specialists in my district do not have rights to edit existing MARC records.    If you need to track that kind of data or circulate eBooks electronically, then you will need to look at an eBook platform like Follett eBooks or Overdrive that is designed to function in those ways.

Next Steps

We’ll now provide students post-reading surveys about the Nook reading experience to determine if they are a good fit for our students;  I’ll also be working with Ms. Frost to get her feedback as a classroom teacher.   While I’m still looking for an eBook platform whose licensing agreements are acceptable for my library and learning environment, especially as our district is now ready to implement a bring your own device policy for 2012-2013, I still think there is a place for circulating the devices themselves since so many don’t have one of their own.  I look forward to giving you a new update in a few weeks as I document our journey of learning and exploration of eBook and eReader experiences and options.

Q&A: Nook Simple Touches and the B&N Managed Program

Did you purchase the screen protectors for each nook?

We purchased protective covers; we did not purchase the screen protectors. We also purchased 2 year warranties for every device.

I am guessing that since you are using the “digital locker” that you now purchasing one book per nook. Is that correct? If so, are you finding the need to purchase multiple copies of certain titles for different nooks?

The policy is indeed now 1:1; we will purchase multiple copies of popular titles or titles that will be virtual class sets.  My plan is to purchase 5 copies of each ebook so that it will be easier to know off the top of my head which collection/subcollection I’ve assigned those books to (see section below on setting up collections/subcollections).

By having Barnes and Noble “control” your Nooks, were you given any type of password/user email for each nook or does Barnes and Noble have total control?

You work with Barnes and Noble to establish the user name/email and password,  and they help you manage the content that goes on there from the backend. I’m having the ability to purchase content from the device directly disabled.

That question leads me to another that my Barnes and Noble rep was not able to answer… If my nooks are “digitally locked”, can I lend ebooks to other nooks? And can a student “check-out” ebooks from the Public Library onto a school owned nook? My Rep’s answer was yes, but when I asked her how, she began to falter. It is my understanding that it would not work, but now I am unsure. What has been your findings?

A. By “lend the ebooks”, what exactly do you mean?  If you mean through your OPAC, no.

B. I assume you mean through Overdrive? I would say yes: http://www.sjpl.org/blog/nook-basics .  Once we get ours, I will test it out and confirm.

When purchasing ebooks for the nook through their management program, can you clarify which nook to load a certain ebook?

Yes—you tell them what book goes on which device. You will work with them to set up groups/subgroups or “Collection” and “subcollections” of your devices.  I have set up the following collections and subcollections:

Collections:  1.  Classroom Sets  2.  Circulation Sets

Classroom Set Subgroups:

  • Classroom Set Group A Nooks 1-5
  • Classroom Set Group B Nooks 6-10
  • Classroom Set Group C Nooks 11-15
  • Classroom Set Group D Nooks 16-20
  • Classroom Set Group E Nooks 21-25
  • Classroom Set Group F Nooks 26-30
  • Classroom Set Group G Nooks 31-35

For the circulation set….

  • Circulation Nooks 36-40
  • Circulation Nooks 41-45
  • Circulation Nooks 46-50

If at a later date, could you remove a nook from the Digital Locker and gain control total control of it again?

“Yes” but only if you deregister and reregister the device.  However, I am not sure why you would want to do this—how else would you manage or add content without doing it locally, which is more cumbersome?

How are you checking out the eBooks?

We will not catalog the ebooks into the OPAC because there is no way of actually circulating or physically/electronically checking out individual Nook books through Destiny at this time.  We will circulate the devices and keep track of what books are on each device; we will maintain this information in a spreadsheet that will be available online and in a hard copy the students can easily browse.

Will you be documenting the Nook program at your library?

Yes–the website is housed here.  We’ll be filling in content in the upcoming months!

Next Steps in the eReader Journey: The Nook Simple Touch

In 2010-11, we used our Kindle eReaders for recreational reading; for the 2011-12, the library is looking to support classroom novel studies by purchasing sets of Nook Simple Touches to support literature circle studies in content area courses as well as whole class readings of specific texts.  Students will have a choice as to whether they prefer to read a print copy of a text or if they would prefer to read on the Nook Simple Touch.  As of this morning, we have submitted an order for 50 Nook Simple Touches, 50 covers, and 50 two-year warranties.

Why are we going with the Nook Simple Touch?  Here are some of the features we like about the Nook Simple Touch:

  • a battery life of up to two months
  • touchscreen technology
  • lightweight and ultra portable
  • no web browser, which means fewer distractions for students
  • students cannot purchase or download content

While the device has tremendous appeal, the new tools for content and device management is the real selling point for us as a K12 school.  Here is a summary of the new program Barnes and Noble Managed Program and that I’m posting here with permission from my local sales representative.

The program is called B&N Managed Program (featuring digital lockers) and it provides easy, turn-key solutions to address concerns and needs of a K12 environment.   The program offers everything from greater bulk discounts/pricing on some NOOK units and ease of account management. The Barnes and Noble Managed program offers these solutions:

  • No credit card will be required to purchase e-content
  • Schools can purchase eBooks using a P.O. after an account has been set-up.
  • When placing new orders for devices and content, schools will receive bundled packaging. B&N will register the device, install any accessories you as a school or library would like, download the product (e.g. list of eBooks), and ship them to the customer ready to use.
  • Schools with existing devices can place an eBook order through the store. They just need to send a list of titles to B&N and B&N will download the product to their digital locker. The customer will receive an email confirmation and then sync their device to view their new titles.
  • B&N does all of the work for the school! We will register the devices, set-up their accounts and download their specified content to their digital lockers. These downloads will be customized to the customer’s specifications – by classroom, grade level, etc. In short, however you need the content, we will deliver!

While this is not a perfect solution nor one that allows schools to deliver ebook content to student owned devices or across multiple platforms, this is a more viable solution for the needs of the K12 environment in terms of options that meet our purchasing needs and ability to manage the content effectively and efficiently while giving us a means to offer students a digital reading experience that we hope will engage readers of all ages and prior reading experiences. I’m excited that B&N will help me create collections of my devices and facilitate the delivery of our ebook content to the appropriate devices as needed to support student learning in content area study/reading as well as recreational/leisure reading.  In addition, devices are password protected so that students cannot make unauthorized purchases or downloads.

I will be documenting our journey of learning with the Nooks through the new Nooks at the Unquiet Library LibGuide page I’ve created, so please bookmark this new site or subscribe to the RSS feed for the guide as I populate data and materials to share with everyone.

Why We Won’t Purchase More Kindles at The Unquiet Library

We’re back in The Unquiet Library this week as preplanning has begun, and I’ve been energized, excited (and a little happily exhausted) by the collaborative planning sessions I’ve been engaging in with several of our teachers as we’re planning some new units of study and lines of inquiry with students that will tie into content area standards as well as library program goals, themes, and targeted skills/processes  for learning (coming on the blog this week!).  Because some of these conversations began back in June at the end of the year, I spent the summer exploring options for expanding our eReader and eBook program (which I’ll also be blogging later this week).  I’ll elaborate in more detail soon why we are going to go with the new Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch for our “go to” device to integrate into instructional units of study as well as a medium for digital recreational reading, but an email I received last Thursday from Amazon Kindle Education sealed my decision.

In the email, Amazon Kindle Education wrote:

We discovered the FAQ on your Facebook post [my note:  they actually discovered the post from our LibGuides page through our library's Facebook page] and wanted you to either update the information to be in line with Amazon’s End User License Agreement with the attached setup information.  Or to remove the information on registering 6 devices per account to share digital content.

The email also pointed me to the Amazon End User License  (updated in February well after we began our Kindle program and which was never brought to my attention in subsequent phone/email conversations with Amazon Kindle Education in June 2011).  The email included a PDF attachment of a draft “Kindle Education: Setup Guide” (which reflects a real lack of an understanding of the needs of K12 schools and libraries) and then concluded with this paragraph:

Amazon recommends schools register each Kindle to a single account.  If you are looking for a library solution, we are working to include Kindle books in Overdrive.com’s offering to libraries before the end of the year.

I emailed Amazon Kindle Education to make sure that I understood:

1.  They now require a separate email for each device, and subsequently, for managing ebook content which is now 1:1 for K12.  I immediately thought of colleagues who have much larger collections of Kindle devices and Kindle books and felt astonished that Amazon could be so ignorant (or indifferent?) of how ridiculously impractical this mandate will make it for librarians to manage the those devices and content.

2.  The 1:1 rule will now be enforced for K12 and school libraries, yet the only backend management tool being offered to us is to purchase a subscription to Overdrive, which is financially impossible for most school libraries, and for my colleagues who work in elementary and some middle school settings, not a feasible solution in terms of ease of accessibility for younger readers or a selection of interactive ebooks that are more developmentally appropriate for younger learners.  I don’t have a problem with the 1:1 aspect, but I do have a problem with Amazon not providing alternatives to help libraries and schools work within the confines of the licensing agreement that is now apparently being enforced (I was told via phone that in our case, they were responding to a concern shared by a publisher who apparently saw our LibGuides Kindle pages).

In a phone conversation with my Amazon Kindle Education rep Monday, the new terms of agreement were confirmed.  While the rep stated that Amazon is working on some type of backend management tool/system, it will not be available for several months, and I got the impression it won’t be comparable to what Barnes and Noble is now offering to K12 schools/libraries.   I had already planned to go with the Nook Simple Touch for 2011-12 (again, I’ll blog why later this week), but nonetheless, it was disappointing to walk away from this series of conversations feeling as though Amazon does not seem to value the needs of the K12 market and is not being terribly responsive to our needs as institutional consumers.  While we will continue to utilize our existing fleet of ten Kindles, we certainly will not invest any additional monies in the devices or ebook content under the current limitations that really will not work for our environment.

I share this information not to “bash” a vendor, but to help colleagues have as much information as possible as they prepare to make decisions about devices and providers of ebook content in the upcoming school year.  I’ll have a post up later this week about the options we’re exploring and how we feel they will meet the needs of our students and teachers.