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.
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.