Free ebooks bundle from Mackin May 23, 2013Posted by Collette Jakubowicz in Ebooks.
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I just stumbled across Mackin’s summer free ebooks bundle offer, which ends May 31st. If you sign up for a VIA account, or if you already have one, you can get 30 or so free ebooks. There are different titles for elementary, middle, and high schools, so get them while they’re hot!
Overall, the bundle is a mix of classics with clipart-esque covers (not terribly attractive, but more enticing than Project Gutenberg’s public domain covers) and some more current titles. I haven’t opened mine yet, so I don’t know if they are simultaneous access, or one-user limited. Still, it’s a nice way to test-drive the VIA platform.
After speaking with customer service through the Live Chat feature (really cool!), I found out that they’ll also send the MARC records that have links in them. That means that even if I don’t like the VIA apps/platform, I still have access to the books.
One thing that I don’t like about the available platforms for ebook management is the extra layers of DRM, passwords, and click-through menus for students and staff. I think overall, there’s just not a seamless enough solution. I want users to just click the title in the catalog and have it open automatically. No usernames or passwords, and no extra steps that could lead to extra pitfalls. I’ll try out VIA for now (I’ve already nixed Follett’s platform as too clunky for our needs), and I’ll review it here later.
I have to admit the apps are a nice touch. The issue I have there, however, is that by promoting the apps for the platform, I’m NOT promoting our school library, just Mackin or Follett’s company. I have a problem with that because it’s harder to advocate when the e-content I’m promoting doesn’t have a district or school customizable logo anywhere on the host website. And yet when there’s a problem, I get to deal with the frustrations of using said app or platform, as I’m “in charge” of the library content/catalog. For now, we’ll just see how it goes.
PSLA 2013 Takeaway: Unconferences ROCK! May 17, 2013Posted by Collette Jakubowicz in Nooks, PSLA, Reflections.
Tags: conference, library space, PSLA, unconference
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Let’s face it, sometimes going to a library conference means running into a lot of toxic, negative energy from burned out educators. I don’t know what it is about a bunch of us getting together, but it seems to invite venting and despair about the state of school libraries. No doubt, the current state is a sad one, but since we’re surrounded by our colleagues, don’t we all know that already? Complaining about it to one another doesn’t do anyone any good, and it generally brings me down.
So when I walked into the first “Unconference” and found collaborative ideas, fantastic real-world advice and new, fresh tech tools I can use, I was THRILLED! One librarian in the room (I sadly didn’t catch her name) neatly summarized the experience by saying that it was the most positive thing that had happened at PSLA in her recollection. (my apologies for paraphrasing…that’s my best memory of her quote.)
From the “library space” conversation I learned:
- The first step in any space reconfiguration/reno is figuring out what you need/want to do in that space.
- I would LOVE yoga ball chairs, which can be used with frisbees to keep them in place. So simple, cheap, and genius!
- A raised floor would mean I can run electric wiring wherever and however I wanted = truly customized space! Big ideas for an as-yet-planned-future-massive-reno.
- Moveable furniture would be great for the “library commons/learning commons,” but students also sometimes want and need a quiet place to curl up and read. I think as librarians, we can provide both.
- “Library commons” spaces rely on more e-content to free up shelf space.
- Makerspaces sound so wonderful, if only the library had more square footage. I’m reconfiguring, but I just don’t see where to put it!
- Planning for “centers” in the library would be a great compromise as I slowly transition our traditional space into a learning commons-inspired space.
Overall, it was a really exciting conversation! And that was just one of 2 or 3 that I got to be a part of. I wish we had more time at the Unconference for more/longer conversations, and I wish it hadn’t been so late at night. Since I was driving to my home to save money on the hotel stay, it was a really late night (and early morning the next day). Personally, I think this was a better use of my time than some of the sessions I attended, and I’d love to see it replace a couple. But that’s just me.