Since we launched Test Drive last fall, hundreds of libraries have taken advantage of free resources to support demonstration and lending of eBook devices. Now available for libraries and schools, it’s easy to get started at our newly revamped Test Drive website, where you’ll find device recommendations and guidelines for setup, maintenance and support. Approved devices include the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Sony Reader Wi-Fi and Google Nexus 7. Test Drive also provides best practices and marketing resources for lending approved eBook readers and tablets to users, all while honoring publisher copyright permissions and recognizing the importance of accessibility.
Canada’s Lambton County Library has taken full advantage of the Test Drive program. Based in southwestern Ontario, Lambton County won the “Test Drive” category in our 2012 Outreach Program Contest. We asked Technical Service Manager Krystyna Stalmach to share about her library’s Test Drive campaign.
At Lambton County Library, we wanted to ensure equitable access to download technology and develop a program to provide training to both our staff and the public. We found that the Test Drive program allowed us to do that. After examining the available options, we decided that the Sony Reader Wi-Fi (PRS-T1) would be the best eReading device to lend at our library. Its ability to download directly from OverDrive over a wireless network is the most attractive feature to the library and its patrons.
We developed a very inexpensive solution for packaging the devices for loan, purchasing off-the-shelf plastic containers that perfectly fit the eReader in its cover, along with its accessories. The container also provided the technical services staff with a wide surface on which to attach barcodes, care and handling warnings, and a short checklist of contents. Once the MARC record was completed, each individual eReader was entered into the ILS with a shelfmark based on its unique serial number.
We decided on a 14-day loan period, with no option to renew or reserve, thereby hoping to meet the demands of the community fairly. We developed our own customized version of the Electronic Device Borrowing Agreement, provided in the Test Drive Toolkit.
Over 100 staff members were trained using a Power Point demonstration and hands-on training during a six-week period. At the end of the training session, each trainee was able to take home the Sony eReader for two weeks. We think that giving our staff a chance to work with the devices before launching the program was the ticket to our success. We followed up with “tip of the week” emails, often prompted by questions or new discoveries.
Training sessions for patrons and community groups were conducted via our Travelling Gadgets Gallery. To date, the TGG education program has reached almost 300 people. Our goal is to visit all 26 libraries in Lambton County.
At the end of March 2012, we started marketing our new service as “coming soon,” using many of the promotional materials available through the Test Drive site. We ran daily radio ads and distributed posters and bookmarks to all of our branches. We provided hands-on demonstrations to multiple community groups and promoted our eBook library to local businesses that sell Sony Readers.
In the last week of April, Sony Readers were distributed to 26 library branches. Since then, our devices have circulated 380 times, and the monthly circulation of eBooks and audiobooks jumped from 3,200 to over 3,900. We’ve also seen increases in the new patron registrations (from 115 to 171 per month) and the unique patrons with checkouts (from 678 to 809 per month).
This has been a very exciting project for the Lambton County Library. It has received a lot of positive feedback from our library staff and the public.One grateful patron even wrote us a thank you note with these limericks:
Makes me shudder to think
I’d only looked at ink.
But now it’s a swipe
of electronic type
on the e-reader & I’m done in a blink!
The web – it is your friend
with the e-reader in your hand.
A tale is woven,
your heart is stolen;
you’re captured yet again.
Melissa Marin is a Marketing & Outreach Specialist at OverDrive.