It also provided them with charging options for mobile phones and lights for readers to use at night.
Recommendations The recommendations outlined here are drawn directly from feedback from LEAP librarians and Worldreader staff, along with observations from the field. They apply to the three primary target audiences, all of which have decision-making power when it comes to implementing digital reading programs through libraries. These audiences are: librarians who are responsible for the daily implementation of such program ; implementing organizations who may coordinate the implementation of multiple digital reading programs ; and policy makers who are responsible for scale-up of these programs through national institutions, and the authorship of policies that support scale-up.
Three success factors emerge from the results and lessons presented in the preceding sections, each of which are key to the scale-up of digital reading programs in Africas libraries. These are worth mentioning for all audiences of the report: A dedicated project manager who has an ongoing commitment to support the digital reading program is key for both logistical coordination and ensuring a strategic direction for the e-reader program.
Content that is appropriate for the target patron population is key for ensuring the e-readers utilization. Content that patrons want to read is essential for drawing them to the devices and sustaining their use. As such, special attention should be paid to content selection, with each librarys patron population in mind.
A benefit of the e-reader is its portability, which allows for frequent outreach into communities. This outreach is a necessary part of the program and prioritized, given its potential for extending the reach of libraries into local communities, raising libraries profiles, and attracting new patrons who may not have known about the library before. Other, audience-specific recommendations are outlined below. Librarians These recommendations and more have been incorporated into Worldreaders library program handbook, which can be found at: www.
Most of these recommendations come directly from LEAP pilot librarians. Link your project goals to the content you put on the e-readers: Set a goal before the start of the program to determine what kind of content your project will need.
For example, if youd like to use the e-reader project to bring more adolescent girls into the library, then you need more content appropriate for this population. Engage and train other library staff early on: While one staff member should be in charge of the project, engage other staff early on, training them and getting their buy-in into the program. Delegate program management among staff and volunteers to lessen the burden on any one individual. Engage teachers for school-based outreach and trainings: consider engaging teachers early on. Empowering teachers to own the project, train students, and manage e-reader inventory will help lesson your workload.
Encourage digital reading beyond e-readers: Consider other tools for reading when demand is high and e-readers are scarce. Schedule outreach around school holidays: More e-readers are needed for in-library training and usage during school holidays, as many students flock to the libraries during these times. Do not do as many outreach activities during holidays, in order to ensure e-readers are available at the library facility. Remember these tips for conserving device power: turn off advertisements to conserve energy; turn down screen brightness when using in well- lit areas; make-sure device wi-fi is turned off unless new content is being downloaded.
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With regular use and these power-saving measures, devices should stay charged for at least two weeks. Develop a regular schedule of in-library trainings: As opposed to conducting ad-hoc oneon-one trainings with new e-reader users, consider a regularly scheduled training program for example, once or twice a week.
This will allow you to train more participants at once, thus saving your time and energy.
Students and patrons are the best publicity for the program: Encourage them to share their experiences and get others excited. Daily record keeping during training and outreach makes regular reporting easier: Make sure to keep records throughout to prevent a lot of work at the end of the month. Use trainings and outreach for building collective responsibility for the devices: Continually emphasize proper e-reader handling during trainings and outreach, even for those patrons who have handled the devices before.
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Collect regular feedback from patrons: This will ensure the program is having its intended impacts on patrons, and allow you to trouble shoot any issues that may arise. Develop written guidelines for overnight e-reader borrowing: These depend on each library environment, however they may include amount of time as a member for example, minimum one year , no current late fees, and valid ID and contact information on file. Its recommended that e-readers not be borrowed overnight for longer than two nights or a weekend.
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Implementing Organizations Most of the recommendations for librarians are also relevant to implementing organizations. Additionally, the following should be considered: Engage local education officials early on: This is key, particularly for sourcing content, in order to ensure that appropriate curriculum is included on the e-readers.
Deploy more e-readers for larger libraries: the number of e-readers distributed should be based on current patronage, at a ratio of approximately one e-reader per 20 patrons. Think creatively about how digital reading can increase access to specific information: explore the possibility for the e-reader to provide specific content and information that is relevant to the community, beyond content to encourage literacy and reading: such as sexual and reproductive health information for women and adolescents, etc.
Provide opportunities for project manager networking: Regular points of contact between project managers will allow them to troubleshoot issues as they arise, and will encourage creativity through the exchange of ideas. Ensure reliable power for smooth project implementation: Ensuring that a reliable power source is available within the library compound will guarantee maximum device availability, and will also ensure efficient use of project managers time.
This may mean connecting to the existing power grid or using an alternative energy source. Policymakers In addition to the above recommendations for librarians and implementing organizations, policymakers should also consider the following: Guarantee the allocation of sufficient funds for program expenses: In addition to the obvious hardware, content and personnel costs, this includes charging stations, electricity for charging, and funds for travel for program managers.
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See Cost-Effectiveness to estimate the amount of funds needed per program. Develop partnerships with local publishers early on: Begin discussing content licensing with local publishers particularly for larger scale projects where thousands of copies of a particular title may be distributed. Its important to have buy-in from publishers early on to ensure appropriate content is available to libraries. Support professional development for project managers and librarians: As the LEAP pilot demonstrated, digital reading programs often open up more areas of interest for librarians, including the implementation of further technology programs.
As such, professional development opportunities should be made available for librarians to build the skills necessary to successfully implement expanded programs. Plan for the expansion of technology in libraries: As digital reading programs have been shown to increase patrons enthusiasm for technology in general, long-term planning for incorporating more technology programs into libraries is key for ensuring sustained gains in patronage over the next five to ten years.
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Opportunities for further research While the findings presented here are extensive, they also bring up a number of questions for further research into digital reading through libraries. First, follow-up is needed to understand whether gains in patronage as a result of the program are sustained in the long run. Follow-up is also needed to assess the ongoing functionality and operation of the devices after more months of implementation. Second, while this report outlines many of the outputs related to project LEAP, there are a number of potential outcomes that merit further investigation, including effects of the program on literacy skills, academic success, and more.
More research into these outcomes will serve researchers and implementers in better understanding the full impact of library-based digital reading programs. Finally, developing a sustainable pricing model for content licensing that works for both libraries and publishers is key to the future of digital reading in libraries.
While content licensing had few implications for the LEAP pilot program, the growth of digital reading programs in Kenya will eventually require a systematic approach to acquiring content that can be borrowed. With existing partnerships with the publishing industry in Kenya and other developing countries, Worldreader is already exploring this area in preparation for LEAP scale-up. The results presented in this report show that e-readers are a cost-effective, appropriate technology for use in libraries in sub-Saharan Africa. They are easy to operate and well liked by patrons and librarians alike.
Compared to other types of technology, they are energy-efficient and the addition of solar charging solutions makes them even more accessible for rural libraries. Moreover, their portability makes them the perfect tool for expanding the reach of the library into local communities through outreach. In the case of LEAP, e-readers allowed librarians to think creatively about outreach, particularly into more rural communities, because they werent constrained by the logistics of transporting paper books.
However, we know technology alone isnt enough to drive the impressive gains in patronage seen through project LEAP. Appealing and relevant content tailored to the libraries needs was vital in ensuring program success. The increase in the libraries collections, excitement around new technology, and ability to conduct frequent outreach into communities raised the profile of the libraries within their communities, drawing thousands more patrons into the libraries physical spaces. These patrons are reading more and accessing more of the librarys services as a result.
LEAP has shown that digital reading programs can in fact open up libraries to other technology programs, helping them look towards a future that meets the needs of a growing patron population. Library-based e-reader programs are not without challenges: they require a significant investment in staff time and library infrastructure. And with high levels of patron demand, there never seem to be enough e-readers for everyone who wants to use them. But overall these findings bring us to an important conclusion: By bridging the traditional notion of a library as a repository of books with the modern day need for the library to extend its reach beyond its walls, digital reading programs can play a key role in driving the development of sub-Saharan African libraries.
Such programs may be key for transforming libraries and meeting the needs of patrons looking to expand their horizons in the 21st century.
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Martine James Omondi conducted data analysis and provided other significant inputs to the authorship of the report. The report-writing team would like to thank Rachel Mai Tran for her assistance, and Darren Hoerner for his ever-valuable input. Aspen Institute , Rising to the Challenge: Re-envisioning public libraries. Consumer Reports , E-reader failure rates. An Overview.