Library introduces eBooks with Bookmobile

The Oracle

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By: Catalina Zhao

Graphics by George Hwang

The Gunn library recently gained access to an extensive digital media collection, allowing students to download eBooks. In order to promote this new resource, the library is bringing in the Digital Bookmobile, a technology trailer truck that will be open to high school students, teachers, parents and classes.

Together, Gunn and Palo Alto High School (Paly) purchased the collection from OverDrive, Inc., a company that provides digital library services. Currently, there are over 600 titles available to students. “Our wide collection consists of class literature, fiction, sci-fi, audio books and test prep books, [which are] all books you can download  and read on any portable device,” librarian Meg Omainsky said.

On April 23, the Bookmobile will be parked near the Main Office. “It tours all over the country helping libraries teach their patrons how to download digital and audio books using the OverDrive collection,” Paly Librarian Rachel Kellerman said. People can visit this 74-foot, 18-wheel tractor-trailer from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., explore the schools’ digital collection and download a book onto their portable device. According to its website, the BookMobile has “broadband Internet-connected PCs, high-definition monitors, premium sound systems and a variety of portable media players,” all of which are geared towards teaching and allowing users to interact with the collection.

After creating an online account, people can pick books to read from Gunn and Paly’s collection. They can download their chosen book directly onto their reading device,

such as an iPad, computer, Kindle or smartphone. “The collection and downloads are compatible with every single device,” Omainsky said. The download is free, and the book expires automatically after a set period of time.

The two librarians’ idea of offering a collection of eBooks to Palo Alto Unified School District students stemmed about a year ago from the rapidly advancing, technology-orientated environment society encourages today. “More and more students are reading via digital devices,” Omainsky said. “We think the download library is a way users can get the information they want in a variety of formats.” Kellerman described the reasoning behind the program in a similar fashion. “Digital resources are extremely popular and a growing resource so we wanted our students to have access to this exciting new media,” she said. After introducing the idea, Palo Alto Partners in Education gave the two schools an $11,000 grant for the project.

Students welcomed the prospect of accessing eBooks and being able to read on an electronic device. “I would use the OverDrive program,” freshman Wilson Horn said. “I like reading on my iPad because it doesn’t bother my eyes and keeps track of where I am, and I can highlight words.”

Through the BookMobile, Gunn and Paly hope to spread awareness about the OverDrive program they’ve endorsed. “Our goal is to promote our digital book collection and to help interested students learn how to use this resource on their reading devices,” Kellerman said. Omainsky also has high hopes for the BookMobile and OverDrive collection. “We think lots of students will like it,” she said. “It’s expanding our capability to offer resources to our users.”