Monday, February 27, 2012

Final Reflections

A family friend died of cancer a couple weeks ago and then I caught a nasty flu bug so I have not been keeping up with this blog as I should.  On a more positive note, here are my reflections on the research process:

How should school library media specialists determine which e-reader is the best fit for their library media center?

Selecting a Topic-
Since e-readers are becoming so popular, I was interested in looking at them for my inquiry project.  At first, I assumed that I would simply do some research to compare the pros and cons of various e-readers.  From there, I would determine which was the best for a school library setting and then I would be done.  Of course nothing is ever that easy, and this project was no exception.  I quickly realized that I could compare memory space, screen type, size, etc. for months but that would not bet me anywhere.  All of that information would be useful eventually, but I needed more direction first.
Luckily for me, my mother is a school library media specialist and had recently added five Nook Simple Touch readers to her collection.  I sat down with her and we had a discussion about how she chose which type of device to buy for her library.  It was this discussion that got me thinking about the purpose of e-readers and I started doing some research with that in mind.  I was then that I found a great blog on that very topic which really helped me to cement my topic choice. 
Finding Information

            More and more questions came up as I started to do my research.  Some of the things that came up during research process are:
·      Does the librarian want the e-readers to be for more than just reading? (magazines, internet, email, Facebook, etc)
·      Are the e-readers solely for reading?
·      How many will the LMS purchase? Will each student have one or will there be only a few on loan to students?
·      Will the LMS buy books for pleasure reading or required books for class?
·      Does the LMS want the e-reader to be compatible with Overdrive and other e-book lending libraries?
This was the first time I had ever used the bookmarking site Delicious for researching and I found it to be very useful.  Before too long, I was faced with a similar problem as when I was selecting a topic.  I had a wealth of information at my fingertips and I needed to determine what would be the most useful and relevant.

Using Information
            At this point, I decided to take a hands-on look at how a couple of different devices are being put to use in a real school library.  Shortly after my last post I was able to get my hands on both a Nook and an iPad to play with and compare the two.  The Nooks have been VERY popular among the students with a long waiting list so I was lucky I happened to be working in the school when a student returned one.  As for the iPads, they are not being used as e-readers very much but did have the free Kindle app so I was able to download a free book and compare the app with the Nooks.   According to the librarian, she is only just starting to use the iPads in a research project she does with her 6th grade Library Skills classes.  Since there is not enough iPads for every student they are not being used for textbooks, although that is something the school is looking into for the future.
            After talking to the library media specialist and some of her students, I realized that (at least for the purposed of that library) the Nook Simple Touch really is the best choice.   In a different library, where e-readers are being used with a slightly different purpose, this might not be the case and another e-reader would be more appropriate.

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