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Practical Tips to Help Patrons with eBooks


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Tips and information for library staff to help their patrons learn how to use their e-readers and how to download ebooks from Overdrive. First presented in April 2011 and updated in Sept 2011.

Tips and information for library staff to help their patrons learn how to use their e-readers and how to download ebooks from Overdrive. First presented in April 2011 and updated in Sept 2011.

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  • 1. Practical Tips to Help Patrons with eBooks
    Kathy PetlewskiPlymouth District Library2011
  • 2. If possible, purchase a variety of e-readers for staff use.
    Our goal was to have every person who staffed a public service desk become comfortable with all seven devices and an expert on one.
    Staff was encouraged to check out an e-reader for a week or two & practice downloading OverDrive materials.
    Train Your Staff First !
  • 3. Not only librarians, but circulation staff wanted to participate.
    There were definitely some “hot” e-readers and others that no one wanted to use.
    Even among tech-savvy librarians, the steepest learning curve was with the iPad since it came with no instructions. (Think of it as a large iPhone!)
    Staff Reaction
  • 4. As part of my device evaluation process, I described my experiences in my blog – The Well-Rounded Librarian. Many staff members followed my postings as well as those by Holly Hibner, who also blogged her evaluations.
    Help from Blog-land
  • 5. Inability to register some e-readers due to restrictions on Library WiFi access.
    Staff computers didn’t have administrative rights, so they couldn’t install Adobe software.
    Restrictions on Adobe Digital Editions – only 6 authorizations per account!
    Practical Side of Staff Training
  • 6. Offer patron instruction in a variety of formats!
    Handouts for patrons to take home with them.
    Online instructionsspecific to your own Library.
    Videos on YouTube from live presentations.
    Slide Presentationson SlideShare.
    Then On To Patron Training
  • 7. All come with wifi and some with 3G, depending on model.
    Lightweight at 8.7 oz with stereo speakers.
    Over 750,000 titles in Kindle version at Also “lending” option for a select number of books.
    Offers “syncing” between devices.
    Battery life – 8,000 pages with wifi & 3G off. (approx 20 days)
    Will soon be used with OverDrive.
    Kindle Reader
  • 8. Kobo Reader
    Comes with wifi already installed. Also “syncs” between devices with apps.
    Black & white, uses e-ink technology reducing glare.
    Lightweight at under 8 oz
    Preloaded with 100 classic books.
    Battery life – 10,000 pages with wifi off.
    May be used with OverDrive.
  • 9. Original Nook
    Black & white, uses e-ink technology reducing glare but has color touch pad at bottom.
    12.1 oz in weight & shorter battery life than Kindle due to color pad.
    Some books may be “loaned” between friends. Advertises “over 2 million books” online but really 500,000 not including free.
    May be used with OverDrive.
    Comes with wifi & 3G,
    depending on the model.
  • 10. Nook Color
    Comes with wifi only, but built in social networking ability.
    15.8 oz in weight, external speaker and 8 hr. battery life.
    “Read to Me” children’s picture books available.
    Build on “Droid” platform & includes several apps.
    May be used with OverDrive.
    LCD 7” color touch screen.
  • 11. Nook Simple Touch
    • WiFi only at this point
    • 12. Lightweight at under 7.5 oz.
    • 13. 6” touchscreen with e-ink technology
    • 14. Battery life of 2 months (with 30 min. per day use.)
    • 15. May be used with OverDrive.
  • Sony Reader
    No Wifi except on “Daily Edition” version & no external speakers.
    Must be connected to PC to get books.
    Black & white, uses e-ink technology reducing glare.
    Lightweight at 7.5 oz
    200,000 books from Sony Reader Store.
    Battery life – 14 days.
    May be used with OverDrive.
  • 16. Apple iPad I or II
    Comes with wifi & 3G depending on the model.
    Full color touch 9.7” LED backlit screen and weighs 1.5 lbs. or less.
    Up to 10 hours of battery life.
    Access over 150,000 titles from iBookstore from Apple.
    Special free “app” for OverDrive from Apple App Store.
  • 17. Formal presentation to a large gathering using a PowerPoint presentation and lots of time for Q & A.
    Have devices available for hands-on time after the presentation, depending on the number of attendees. Sometimes this isn’t practical.
    Find out how many already own devices and how many are considering purchasing them.
    Different Kinds of Programs – Formal Presentation
  • 18. Informal drop-by sessions in a less formal environment.
    Have devices ready for hands-on by patrons. Make sure all are fully charged!
    Make several staff members available for specific questions.
    Include a laptop connected to OverDrive site so you can demo how to search and download.
  • 19. First Attempt at “Informal” Training
    March 17, 2011 ~ 7:00 – 8:30 pm ~ Drop-in Session
  • 20. Concept of 1 license = 1 book = possible waiting lists despite the fact it’s electronic.
    Necessity of downloading software (Adobe or OverDrive Console) before you try to get your digital item.
    Reality that most libraries only allow their own residents to download from their site.
    Despite the fact that your book “expires”, you must delete the file from your device.
    Help is available from your Library !!
    Be Sure to Talk About….
  • 21. We have Adobe Digital Editions loaded on all Service Desk Computers so we can show patrons what it looks like. E-readers are also kept at Reader’s Advisory Desk.
    Although we can’t download OverDrive e-books, we have 500 of the most frequently requested Project Gutenberg books in our catalog that we can get for patrons – even for Kindle owners on a dedicated machine.
    One-On-One Help at the Desk
  • 22. Call us to set up one-on-one appointments when we are off the desk.
    Regularly scheduled hours in the computer lab for e-reader help are now planned and an E-reader Users Group had their first meeting in June.
    For More Detailed Help…
  • 23. Gives patrons a chance to share experiences with various devices and accessories that we may not have purchased.
    Information sharing from your staff to patrons – ie: what to do about Kobos, when will Kindles work on OverDrive, new updates to OverDrive site etc.
    Shows the Library is actively involved in e-books and e-readers.
    Why Have a User’s Group?
  • 24. Have a speaker from Barnes and Noble or Best Buy do a program at your Library. (Royal Oak Public)
    Be a guest speaker at one of the Barnes and Noble stores in your area. (Howell Library)
    Great Ideas From Other Libraries
  • 25. OverDrive’s Latest Help
    Now has e-reader device-specific help in an easy to use format.
    Step by step instructions by format and brand.
    Still must back out of this page and fill out help form if problem can’t be solved with the MyHelp! Screens.
  • 26. News to Make Us Happy, Perhaps!
    Patron driven acquisition, an opt-in program that will allow readers to recommend a title to a library or buy it for the library if budget option enabled.
    DRM-free “open e-book” titles from certain publishers. (currently 1500 titles available)
    Touch screen e-book download stations being tested.
    Working with Adobe to remove “authorization” from patron end.
  • 27. News to Make Us Happy, Perhaps!
    Ability to do “early returns” on e-book titles on mobile devices.
    Max-Access e-books from Lonely Planet and other publishers.
    Streamlined searching with all formats listed under one entry for a title.
    All of these changes mean that staff must inform/train patrons and other staff members.
  • 28. The Continuing Challenges
    New devices constantly being released – how can we afford to keep up?
    Possible incorrect information being given to users at point-of-sale.
    New collections offered through vendors – ie: Disney Digital Storybooks
    Changing publisher policies. (Harper Collins)
    Trying to remember unique features for each device if you don’t use it often.