Thing 14: Social Reading & Book Stuff

Three things stood out to me as must tries for this week’s thing: getting more out of my GoodReads account, finally setting up my Library Thing widget on the library website and, (finally) looking into OverDrive.

Goal 1: Getting More out of my GoodReads Account

We learned about Library Thing, Shelfari and GoodReads in one of my library science classes. Like so many technology/internet/app related things, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for accounts with all three of them. GoodReads became the winner of the three options, if only because most of my friends seemed to be using that one. However, beyond setting up accounts and adding to my list of read books, I haven’t done much with any of those accounts in the approximately 2 years since.

Honestly, when I went back into my GoodReads account I was still stumped on how to get more out of it and/or revitalize my use of and interest in GoodReads (or any social reading site for that matter). But then I stumbled on the GoodReads Groups tab. Both my elementary and secondary practica librarians belonged to multiple book clubs with other teachers and librarians. At least one of their book clubs was devoted to reading and exploring books for the age groups with which they worked. I LOVED the idea of doing this (and still do) but, I live in a pretty rural setting and commute pretty far to work so finding a traditional book club hasn’t really panned out for me. But, with GoodReads Groups, I could join any number of virtual book groups. Seriously, the number of potential groups was a bit overwhelming. Since I had recently read this interesting article on how the Caldecott awards recipients are chosen, I opted to join the Mock Newberry 2015 and Mock Caldecott 2015 groups. One of the things I liked about my online classes at SU was the freedom I had to complete the work and add to the discussions whenever I had time, whether that was 2 pm or 2 am. I’m hoping that same freedom will help me stick with these groups but, I’ll probably need to come up with some kind of schedule to make sure it happens.

Goal 2: Setting up my LibraryThing widget on the library webpage 

Honestly, this was so quick and easy I have no idea why I didn’t do it sooner! I just logged into my LibraryThing account and, using my invoice from my fall book order, added all the new books into my currently reading shelf. Then, simply followed the directions for the LibraryThing widget and added it to my School World library webpage. It’s amazing how much more professional and just plain awesome my library webpage looks with this interactive widget of  our latest books!

Update: I’m not sure if this is a LibraryThing problem or a School World problem but updating my widget with the books that came in February was a horrendous experience! No matter what I tried, I either kept seeing just the embed code on my webpage or even though I only posted the code once, the widget would show up 2, 3, or 4 times in a row. Grrrr! I spent almost 2 hours trying to fix this before giving up and trying it again the next day. It still took longer than it needed to and I had to change some other things on the site that suddenly seemed to not work when I got the widget to work. Fingers crossed that when next month’s book subscription comes in it will be faster and easier to update the widget….

Goal 3: (Finally) looking into OverDrive

This almost didn’t make it as one of my goals for the week. When I borrow ebooks from my local public library I use Adobe epub to get them on my Nook and have always found the Adobe epub software simple and easy to use. My experience with OverDrive is limited but, I have heard so much negative feedback from other librarians about how clunky and cumbersome OverDrive is to work with. Also, while my library has ebooks, they don’t seem very popular or well used at all.

That last one is what made me swing back around and decide to give OverDrive another look. Instead of thinking, “Nobody uses our ebooks anyway, why do I need to torture myself with OverDrive?” or started to think, “Maybe if I knew more about OverDrive I could help people get more use out of our digital catalog”.

So, *spoiler alert* I actually found OverDrive pretty easy to navigate and use. It was just as easy to use as my public library’s ebook catalog. In a matter of minutes I logged in, found a book on the recent reads page, downloaded it and, uploaded it to my Nook. The biggest problem I foresee with OverDrive is the library card number requirement at sign in. Students don’t carry library cards in my school and library card numbers aren’t the same as the id number on teacher badges so everyone and anyone who wanted to sign in to the OverDrive catalog would need to see me or my library clerk to get their number and be able to log in. Not an ideal, convenient system. Especially at an elementary school where my clerk and I are usually already juggling numerous requests for help whenever more than two kids are in the library looking for books at the same time. I’m attending an OPALS users group meeting in March so I think I’ll ask around and see how other people handle this while I’m there. I love the convenience of ebooks and I’m sure some of students and teachers would as well. When I was poking around the digital catalog I noticed several of the books we had for Battle of the Books were available as ebooks. How great it would have been to give the students with e-reader access the option to read some of the more popular books on their devices?!?

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