Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adventures with ebooks, Part One

Maybe I should call this post Misadventures with e-books.. or If I think ebooks are Confusing, What about my Students?

Baker and Taylor's Axis360 ebook Magic Wall needs the Blio reader. That is quite a sentence. They have an OK selection of books (although some are triple the cost of others, and I'm not buying those), and the books appear in the Magic Wall within a day. Customer service is really helpful, and the Magic Wall is pretty, especially on the iPad. Blio is a great reader. And, the platform's price is very reasonable.

  • E-books for libraries are just more expensive than the alternative.
  • Explaining how to access the ebooks is a chore (we are making a LibGuide and a blogpost about it).
  • The Axis 360 MARC records don't work well in our ILS, Destiny! We have to manipulate each record individually so Destiny will show that 1/1 books are in (which will be wrong if something gets checked out, but it is better than it always saying 0/0 are in), and we change the link in the MARC record, so it actually states that you click on the link to get to the Magic Wall to download the book, instead of just being a wild looking URL. Lots of work.
So, why not get the Follett e-books, you might ask. They work seamlessly with Destiny, and the circulation status is very clear. Well, Follett takes  several days to deliver the books and the page turning is painfully slow. S-L-O-W. At least it is slow on our iPads at school. I will keep trying to see if the reader gets better.

Ebrary is a whole other can of worms. On the computer it isn't too confusing, and you can make a bookshelf for your books. You need the bookshelf login to use the app. But then the bookshelf doesn't show up on the app. In fact, the bookshelf has nothing to do with the app. You use the app to search and download from the catalog only on to the iPad. Notetaking on the iPad is essentially cutting and pasting, and then the note has the citation attached, yes, but ittakesoutallthespacessoitishardtoreadwhatwascopiedandpasted.Thequotationslooklikethis. What is the deal with that?
On the computer the notetaking is good, and you can email pdfs to yourself to read on the iPad offline, among other features. But why the 2 products with the same name don't talk to each other is a mystery and a drawback.

Have you found that your patrons like the e-book  options at your library?

Stay tuned for more on our journey, hopefully some improvements in the market, and maybe some feedback from users. I haven't yet rolled these sources out to big groups of users. I am enjoying the experimenting and investigating, and I think this year of playing will turn up interesting results.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Flashcard Wishes

I got stumped by a seemingly easy request this week. One of our Educational Technology teachers and I have been spending time finding a flashcard app that:

1. Allows for large images
2. Allows for lots of text on the other side of the card
3. Can be emailed or shared to small groups or individuals
4. Can be made on computer cloud version
5. Deck can be downloaded to study on an iPad without wifi
6. Can "shuffle" the deck of flashcards, mark ones that are difficult, exclude the learned ones, and other fun learning capabilities like that.

I have tried out a bunch of great tools, but none so far can do all of the above. This is  for an Art History teacher who wants to put ARTstor images on one side and all the notes about the piece on the other (here is my Intro to ARTstor LibGuide). You would think this would be easy to find, but all the ones I have tried so far are missing crucial elements. The best cards are on Gflashcards, but the sharing is limited because of ARTstor's understandable Terms of Use.
Do you know of one that works for all of these criteria? Please share!