Week 5: Virtual Library eBooks

My eBook circulation isn’t great. I’ve heard the same from so many other elementary librarians. Do your elementary students read eBooks? I struggle to create interest in eBooks, but dedicating an occasional class period to remind students of our eBook resources seems to help.

I think reading a book on a Chromebook isn’t as easy, comfortable, or natural for many of our students. The formatting of picture books within eReaders isn’t always easy to navigate, and there will always be something special about holding a book in your hands. However, we have spent thousands on eBooks, and for some students, eBooks might be a perfect fit.


I asked students “Who has read or checked out eBooks?” – The higher the grade, the more students said they had.

I then explained how there are three companies students can access eBooks from within our school – Capstone, MackinVia, and FolletShelf.


I showed students how to access eBooks through Virtual Library and we comparee Capstone, MackinVia, and FollettShelf. 

Capstone books don’t get ‘checked out’ digitally, and can be read by an unlimited number of students at once. All of these books are also read aloud to students, and can be searched by level. There isn’t a huge number of titles available through Capstone, but the voice option is the best of the three companies.

MackinVia has the largest number of books available to students through Sherwood, and there are several nonfiction titles I’ve purchased specific to PBL Units taught in the classrooms. The voice reading the books aloud is not great to listen to, but the features to track pages read and take notes is useful. Most all of the books within MackinVia in our school’s account are unlimited checkouts as well. I showed the students how to check out books through this program.

The third program is Follett Shelf. The books available here were purchased through the previous librarian and I know the least about this program. However, it seems pretty straightforward. More of these titles are single user checkouts, but they are higher interest books and higher reading levels than the other two.

Closing / Exploration

After demonstrating the three companies, I gave students time to explore eBooks and asked that they each check out at least one eBook to try out in the coming week.

At the end of our time together, we shared out the benefits of eBooks – access when not at school, ease of checking out / returning books independent of being in the Learning Commons, not loosing books, keeping track of pages read, etc. 

And I let them share what they don’t like about eBooks – Some of the formatting is weird, harder to read on a screen, can’t curl up on the couch and feel as cozy with a computer compared to a book, doesn’t feel like reading a book.


I still don’t know exactly how to sell the kids on eBooks. In thinking I was using our resources wisely, I tried buying titles that could be checked out by an unlimited number of students at once. However, these weren’t high demand titles and aren’t getting checked out at all. The single use titles are checked out somewhat more frequently because they are more interesting books.

I haven’t done a great job of encouraging eBook use this year, and I don’t feel like we have the best selection of eBooks in our collection. I am brainstorming on a foundation grant and might try to incorporate the Twain titles as eBooks into that grant and hopefully I can see higher usage in the coming school year.

Any other ideas or suggestions as to how you’ve increased your readership of eBooks?


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