This term I was very pleased to finally be able to launch the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services eBook platform, hosted by Wheelers.
It’s something I’ve been looking at for quite some time now, not least because I needed a legal eBook service to provide to schools, and nothing else really fitted the bill. Of course, I’ve advised schools about the pros (and cons) of services such as RM eBooks and Overdrive, but at the moment, Wheelers is the most suitable platform which actually makes an active effort in supporting schools library services to host an umbrella platform serving multiple schools with varying numbers of users.
This of course makes a great deal of sense – schools are interested in eBooks but from the perspective that they’re cheap or free (see various rants in previous posts…). Our model allows us to buy a large stock of books (we’re starting off with a modest 200) and share them among schools taking their baby-steps into the world of eBooks, rather than each school having to buy 100 or so books in order to get the breadth that is required to get as many pupils as possible inspired to actually read.
While I can’t comment on borrowing figures yet – while 7 schools have logins, they’re using them for small focussed groups – there’s certainly plenty of interest and I’ll make regular posts with updates on how the pilot is faring.
The main task at the moment is to assess just how accessible the platform is. Readers have 2 options, either read online via a browser on and device that actually has a browser (no downloading or decryption required) or downloading the book offline – requiring a compatible reader, a tablet with the Bluefire app and an Adobe Digital Editions login. The latter is more complex but whether it’s a major stumbling block remains to be seen.
At the moment though I’m a lot more positive than I was at the start of this whole business. There are more publishers on board than ever, and of course You’re a pest, Betsy Thumbslurp will soon be on the Wheelers platform to buy!