May 22, 2018

School Librarian Hosts Tutorial on Ebooks


When members of the California School Library Association (CSLA) pinged Melanie Lewis for some advice on ebooks, the school librarian knew she needed to hold a tutorial.

Modeling the daylong event after Library Journal and School Library Journal’s recent ebook virtual summit Lewis (pictured) licensed some of those archived talks and invited librarians from across the state. Twenty showed up on a late October Saturday at Fresno Pacific University to learn how to set up their own ebook programs, and even play with some reading devices. 

“I would say most people had little to no experience with ebooks,” says Lewis, a school librarian at Liberty High School in Madera, CA, former president of CSLA’s northern region, and a 2010 Cengage Learning/SLJ New Leader. “But there was so much interest. What to do with them, what do you read them with, even where to get them.”

While ebooks are being introduced in school libraries across the country, most media specialists remain tentative about how they can adopt, much less afford them. Lewis herself has purchased a few digital titles, but the school’s 600 students can only read them on the Hewlett Packard desktops in her media lab, as she has no funding to purchase ereader devices.

That’s quite a different scenario from the experience of one librarian who attended last month’s workshop. He’d been handed 20 Nooks at his school—and had no idea what to do with them. And he was hardly alone.

“People were a little anxious,” says Lewis of some of the attendees. “The general consensus is that [ebook adoption] is moving so quickly, and they’re not sure what to do with them yet, and not sure it’s so easy to use them in a school library.”

Some of those concerns were alleviated during the three-hour audio sessions from the LJ/SLJ event, which featured recorded talks from librarians who’ve successfully launched their own ebook programs, including Buffy Hamilton and Paige Jaeger. Librarians also met with vendors including Follett, Gale, and Barnes & Noble, to hear how they could integrate digital titles into their existing library collections. The event proved so successful, Lewis is repeating the workshop on December 3 in San Francisco. And as for the gentleman with the Nook surplus?

“He did feel a lot better,” she says. “He was a little hesitant on where to start, but he has a better idea now.”

Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at