Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, a member of Ontario Library Service Consortium, received an OverDrive Media Station (OMS) as the result of a collection development promotion in November 2014. Faith Roebuck Shergold, Co-ordinator of Community Engagement and Young Adult Services with the library, kindly shared how the OMS has integrated the digital collection into their physical library space and its effectiveness as a discovery tool.
Take us through the process of introducing your OMS in the library.
We were lucky enough to be the winners, courtesy of OverDrive and the Ontario Library Service, of our Media Station, the hardware and a year’s license (we made the commitment that we’d pay the full license fee in years following). Our library has several technologically-minded staff but no full time IT support, so after confirming with our community’s IT department that our network infrastructure would be sufficient for the Station, we started deciding on its location, staff training (basic functions and light troubleshooting), and a launch event. We put up signs explaining what the Station would be, drawing attention to our OverDrive collection, and inviting the public to the launch. Our library board members also attended. It was an open-house style event, with staff available to demonstrate and assist with the OMS (plus refreshments!).
Where did you set up the OMS and what purpose did you want it to serve?
We set up the OMS on what was one of our public computer carrels at eye level for patrons walking in the library, but still within reach of younger patrons. It’s a good looking piece of hardware and it’s bright, appealing, and catches the eye. We could have used a location that was more conducive to better signage: because of the broad name of our consortium collection and the way it displays, it’s not always immediately clear to those using the station that it is for one of our eBook collections, instead of a general public access catalogue. But the location we chose, close to the entrance to the library and at eye level, was certainly conducive to getting people’s attention.
We were hoping people would take advantage of the Station’s full functionality – not only discovery of our OverDrive collection, but that our dedicated e-users would also send items to their smartphones and emails for holds and checkouts. What we discovered was that active OverDrive users avail themselves of one of the service’s great advantages: being able to access the content from home. We have hardly ever had anyone do anything beyond browsing in person at the Station. But as a discovery tool, it’s fabulous!
How have patrons taken to your OMS and what has been the reaction?
They’re impressed! It encourages curiosity, with its ease of use, bright colours, and large images. Few repeat or long-term interactions, but in an area where many patrons continue to be surprised that we have e-books and other downloadable media, the discovery is the important part.
Has your OMS helped increase exposure of your digital collection?
How do you plan to use the OMS moving forward?
We’ll absolutely keep using the OMS at least in the Library. With some consideration being given to a greater emphasis on outreach and remote services, it would be great to develop the capacity to take it ‘on the road’.
Is there anything else about OMS that you’d like to share with other libraries who may be interested in adding one to a library space?
As discussed, the Station is much more effective as a discovery tool about the e-book services we offer than for the acquisition by patrons of specific items in the collection. It has, however, been invaluable in raising awareness of these services. Our thanks to OverDrive and the Ontario Library Service for giving it to us.