eBook library project

I’ve offered to help a friend out with a project for her daughter’s school. Her daughter attends a charter school in the San Francisco Bay area which has no library, and no space for a physical library. My friend has a lot of experience with formatting electronic material for reading,  and wants to put together an electronic library for students and teachers to use. I’ve made some suggestions to her (and she’s really familiar with ebook resources in general), but there are also parts of this that are outside my own experience, so I thought I’d ask and see if anyone else had ideas.

The basics:

  • The school is about 300 high school students (grades 9-12)
  • 75% Latino.
  • The school has computers with internet access: they filter some sites.
  • Students are expected to have a flash drive as part of their school supplies.
  • She thinks most students do have at least some computer access at home. All of them have access during school hours.
  • She’d expect most of them to be reading on computer, not on an ereader or handheld device.
  • Books must be available for free (with clear legal permissions) and without DRM. She’s willing to see about getting permissions from publishers for specific titles that are clearly a good fit.

Other notes:

  • School assignments are sometimes ‘read this book’ (with students expected to track down a copy) and sometimes ‘read one of these five books’. The teachers are potentially open to filling those with ebook options if suitable titles are available.
  • She’d like to include a wide range of titles – some fiction, some non-fiction, some books aimed for class reading, some books to encourage kids to read for pleasure, etc.
  • She’d expect the books to live on a school server, and be downloaded to individual drives (in case the site hosting them goes down), but is glad to look at other options.

Particular questions:

Places to look for books? She’s familiar with general ebook resources (as she says, she’s checking out anything listed at the http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Free_eBooks page), but she’s particularly interested in finding books that reflect the ethnic and cultural background of the students. Books in Spanish are especially great, but she’s more interested in recent works than classic literature.

Best way to organize titles? She’s looking at starting with a collection of about 500 titles, and build that up to 2000-3000 over time, but is trying to figure out the best way to allow browsing of the collection.

A pre-existing solution that works smoothly with minimal upkeep would be ideal – she’s got great computer skills in the areas of document formatting, but not so much at messing around with database installs or upkeep, or scripting, so something like Koha or Evergreen would be a bit much. A solution that allowed for tagging and full text searching of at least the records would be great. (She doesn’t need a solution that includes circulation, since a given book can be used by as many people as needed.)


If you’ve got thoughts, feel free to leave a comment here, or you can email me at modernhypatia at gmail dot com, and I’ll pass things along. I’m also glad to put you in touch with her directly if you’d like.

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Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind

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