Ann Terry is the librarian at Lone Star High School in Frisco, Texas. In 2011, she helped the Frisco Independent School District launch a comprehensive eBook initiative with OverDrive. Now, Frisco’s elementary, middle and high-school students—and their parents and teachers—have access to a rich collection of popular and educational eBooks and audiobooks, anytime, anywhere, on any eReading device.
Throughout Frisco ISD, digital circulation is booming, and students are reading more than ever before. We caught up with Ann to see how she and her fellow librarians are engaging young readers with OverDrive.
How have students responded to Frisco’s eBook program?
Our students, parents, and faculty are excited about checking out books in [digital] format in addition to our print books. We’ve seen a steady increase in circulation since we added OverDrive. We’re able to reach readers who might not otherwise check out books, because of the “wow” factor. The feedback we get is frequently related to the convenience of having books on their preferred devices and the ease of checkout and return of eBooks—no worries about overdue books!
What effect has the availability of eBooks had on student reading habits?
We’re seeing students reading during class downtime on campuses that allow students to access their devices (BYOD) more often, because they don’t have to cart the book around in their backpack to do it. I know several parents at the elementary level have increased their child’s reading time per day by downloading OverDrive books to their phones for reading in grocery lines/doctor’s offices.
What have you done to raise awareness for the new resource?
We’ve found that the easiest and best way to promote OverDrive is to get the word out that [the service] exists. Once students know they have this option, they’re anxious to try it out. Librarians will frequently have classes of students in the library for a short OverDrive demonstration and check-out session. Students can then download on their devices or home computers later.
We’ve made good use of the posters/shelf talkers/bookmarks and other promotional materials available in our OverDrive marketing kit. We’re proclaiming February as, “OverDrive awareness month” in our district. To help generate interest, OverDrive donated a Sony eReader for us to raffle. Each checkout during the month of February counts as an entry in the contest. Each campus is designing its own promotion for the month, and we’re sharing ideas as we go along.
Who has access to the digital library?
All elementary, middle and high schools have access, in addition to our special programs center, student opportunities center, early childhood center, technical services center, and professional library.
Have teachers integrated eBooks into the curriculum, or is the eBook collection more for pleasure reading?
We are using OverDrive primarily for pleasure reading, although we have added books off the district literature list that patrons can check out.
Do you have any circulation or usage stats you’d like to share?
We’ve checked out 13,440 OverDrive books in our district in the last 18 months, and we’ve seen a steady rise each month. We’ve checked out 1,348 books so far this month, compared to 317 books our first month.
What type of content is most popular?
Popular fiction is the content preferred by students at the middle- and high-school level. Some high interest non-fiction has done well at the elementary level (books about sports), so we’re considering adding more of those.
What’s the next step for Frisco’s eBook program? More content? Raise awareness?
We’re adding more content, for sure. We see long wait lists with some of our titles, and the number of popular, newly published titles available continues to rise. In addition to more content, we’re continually looking for ways to increase awareness and circulation. One of the ways we plan to do that is to add MARC records for our OverDrive books to our system. Collecting our formats [in one catalog] should raise awareness.
For information about launching an OverDrive-powered digital library at your school, click here.
Michael Lovett is Public Relations and Social Media Specialist at OverDrive.