COPPERAS COVE — Junior high school students in the Copperas Cove Independent School District are now able to experience what the future holds for libraries as they begin checking out some of their favorite books in digital form.
“This is the 21st century, and our school libraries need to reflect that,” said Sandra Carswell, librarian at S.C. Lee Junior High School. “We are trying to keep up, and keep our libraries relevant to our students today.”
Carswell and Tobi Sheon, librarian at Copperas Cove Junior High School, received a $4,000 grant from the Copperas Cove Education Foundation to provide digital versions of popular fiction books to students at their schools.
The money was used to purchase 127 electronic book titles, which will be made available through their schools’ websites with help from Cleveland, Ohio-based distributor OverDrive. The service will allow students to log in from any computer and “check out” an e-book for 14 days before it is automatically returned.
Carswell said she and Sheon chose OverDrive because their service allows students to read the e-books they check out in any location on almost any device, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, e-readers like the Nook or Kindle and even some smartphones.
“We didn’t want to lock any students out,” she said. “It was important to make sure they could access the books on multiple devices.”
The digital versions of the books have only recently been made available to students, but both librarians said there is already some interest.
“So far, we’ve had about 30 students using OverDrive,” Sheon said. “That’s amazing considering I haven’t had a chance to introduce it to them.”
Those numbers will likely grow, and not just at Cove’s two junior high schools. OverDrive spokesman David Burleigh said the company has seen a rapid increase in the number of schools looking to purchase digital media from the company.
“It’s a growing trend, and it’s really picked up in the last 18 months,” Burleigh said. “More people, including kids, are getting their media in a digital format, and (the libraries) need to provide content in the format their users are asking for.”
With more and more children beginning to use electronic devices and media at young ages, Carswell and Sheon said they hoped e-books would encourage students to read more.
“It is all about getting kids motivated to read in whatever way you can, and some kids might be more motivated if they can read their books on a Nook or iPad or computer,” she said. “It’s just the wave of the future.”
The service will be available to students at both schools in grades six through eight. Carswell and Sheon said they hope to add additional digital titles in the spring.