Once your school district makes the commitment to have a digital library, the next step is for people to understand how they can stay engaged.
In “Secrets from the Front Lines: How Schools Can Boost Digital Engagement,” Kelly Hladek, library media specialist and technology liaison at Morton High School, School City of Hammond, IN, discussed best practices for engaging students, teachers and the community in the district’s eBook and audiobook collection. In just one year of having a digital collection, checkouts from the district’s digital library increased by 184 percent.
Secret 1: Harness Visuals
Vendors will often provide resources that are helpful in generating interest in your digital library, such as getting-started guides, video tutorials, flyers, posters, and bookmarks. Post materials like posters not only in the library, but also in surrounding areas to grab students’ attention. Hladek recommended having visual reminders for students, like printed-out book covers of the virtual collection on your shelves, and incorporating QR codes here. For any physical books, add special stickers to remind students that they’re also available in digital format.
Secret 2: Involve Teachers
Don’t forget to involve teachers in the digital library. They can have their own dedicated webpage, which can include professional development selections, teaching resources, or popular adult fiction. Visual reminders are also helpful for teachers, and book covers can be added to bulletin boards located in popular faculty areas around the school.
Secret 3: Involve the Community
Tell the surrounding community about the digital library by adding vendor-provided web graphics with links not only to your school’s website, but the district’s website too. Post on social media to spread the message even further.
Secret 4: A Mobile, Physical Kiosk
Within the library, Hladek recommended having a kiosk that is dedicated to eBook browsing and circulation. Having a mobile kiosk is a bonus because it can be wheeled around and used to pitch the digital library at events like open houses or back-to-school nights. “The word is getting out there in our district that eBooks and audiobooks are another way to enjoy reading. We certainly love our physical collections…we just appreciate how digital reading provides another way for students to enjoy a book. Kids just have another choice,” Hladek added.
Secret 5: Learn from Other Schools
Learn how other schools are using their digital collections. Many digital vendors provide avenues to connect with other schools that are also using that vendor. Through this, your school can gain new strategies for using the product, collection-management advice, or even step-by-step instructions for events in which the digital library was featured prominently.
By spreading the word, keeping everyone in the loop, and working with others, you’ll increase engagement in your digital library.
About the Presenter
Kelly Hladek is the library media specialist at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana where she also sponsors her school’s book club and manages the library media center/book club blog, Govs Love Books. In addition, she is the OverDrive coordinator for secondary content and a technology liaison for the School City of Hammond.
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