Our library is in the process of adding demand driven acquisition of E-Books through Ebrary. As we work trough the licensing agreement, setting up the proxy, and customizing the MARC records we have also been thinking about how to train our patrons to use this platform and eBooks in general. If the user just wants to view the title on their computer screen, similar to how they would read a treatise on Lexis or Westlaw, that is easy enough. But, if they want to download it or use it on a mobile device, things get complicated.
I have been reading eBooks for a while. First using the Free Books App with iBooks, then OverDrive through my public library, occasionally purchasing books through the Kindle and Nook iPad apps, and now Ebrary. That is five separate platforms on one device!. I am accustomed to using the different platforms and I know what to look for on each one. However, I had forgotten how cumbersome the initial set up can be and how overwhelming it may seem for patrons who are new to mobile devices and eBooks.
Every eBook platform requires different apps and software depending on the device. To muddy the waters some device developers, in an attempt to protect their proprietary interests, have made it very difficult for users to purchase or access books on other platforms. For example, Ebrary titles may be accessed on Kindle Fires, but only after installing an eReader application that is hidden in the Kindle Fire App store. To find the application, you have to use the direct link provided on Ebrary’s site. This is after creating both an Ebrary account and an Adobe Digital Edition account. This process can take anywhere from 5 to twenty minutes depending on the user-a barrier to access for some.
So what is the point of this complaining? I am sorting through the best way to help our patrons use our new service. For those patrons already accustomed to using EBooks, they will just need a little guidance on how to set up their device. However, lately we have had more faculty and students who are a little less tech savvy asking questions about EBooks. Their interest is growing and I want to insure that the initial set up challenges do not become insurmountable obstacles.
I am currently working on a LibGuide that provides a separate page of instructions for each type of mobile device. I have a page for Apple devices, Android devices, Nooks, Kindles, and tablets in general. I have only prepared information on how to access titles through Ebrary, but I would like to open up our patrons to the world of free eBooks that are available through various apps and platforms and help them work with the public library to find titles. I am also adding in a comment option for students to request instructions for any device I have not listed.
The two challenges I am facing are 1) keeping the step-by-step guide simple and 2) explaining steps for devices I have never used. I want to learn how to use each device so that students and faculty can come into my office with their device and leave with Ebrary installed and empowered to download eBooks on their own. With the help of my colleagues, family, and friends I am testing Ebrary on each device.
We should be launching everything within the next few weeks. I will update everyone on how it went and provide a link to the completed LibGuide for others to use in their libraries. In the meantime, I welcome any advice or tips from those readers who have wisdom and experience to share.