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John_N
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-29-2009
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Virtual Libraries

I am volunteering for my son's private school, which nearly closed because of the cost of doing business for next year. My background is CIO with a public school, so I am tuned into the possibilities of computer based information systems. One idea, and certainly not mine, is a virtual library through which students can check out books on demand. There are really two models: own the eBook as a library resource and check it out as you would any library book (our public library does this); or rent the book, such that the school pays a small fee not to own it, but to borrow it.

 

The system would need to be designed with "administrator" access to create student accounts, and manage them. You certainly don't want kids deleting your collection, even inadvertently.

 

There would need to be a direct line to technical support, not some poor urban dweller in Bangladesh.  In other words, customer service needs to be something more than the name on the door to oblivion.

 

Speaking of which, I sent note to BN "customer service" -- gosh I hate that expression; it so implies that there is truth to it, over an oxymoron -- and received back a form note from the low rent district of staff support that meant little. My inquiry, just as this posting, let's move on a virtual library.

 

Of course, there has to be a plethora of eBooks in all genre, and there is not. In fact, the kids and teens selection is really embarrassing. Hard to sell the idea to my school with this paltry listing. Time will cure this woe, certainly. In time? Not sure. My son has four books on his summer required reading. Each is a best seller, on the Virginia Young Readers program. One was available as an eBook. We would need to request eBooks to be made available.

 

Yes, I have looked at out of print, expired copyright.

 

My hope in this bulletin board is to stir some discussion both between like minded readers, and also the B&N masters who ultimately control (or perhaps Borders is an option?) the success of any market venture beneath its purview.

 

 

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cork_dork_mom
Posts: 172
Registered: ‎07-17-2009
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Re: Virtual Libraries

This is an intriguing idead. Our school system currently offers textbooks online. Students are given a username & password from the teacher to log in at home. Sure makes schlepping textbooks to & from school much easier.

 

But to have an entire library on line for some reason doesn't set too well with me (I'm a librarian & the thought of a book-free world gives me the chills). Students doing research find it way too easy to only use the internet & treat everything they read as the gospel truth (not that being in print makes the words any move truthful, although I would trust a nonfiction book before the internet). I think kids should know how to use the library for research as well as how to find the newest dvd's.

 

I would think reading a novel on the computer wouldn't be good for the eyes of young kids either. Too much time is already spent in front of electronic gadgets. Getting an actual book in the hands of a kid is better on so many levels.

cork_dork_mom
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John_N
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-29-2009
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Re: Virtual Libraries

My wife is a primary school librarian, and her sentiment is like yours. I was actually thinking more about secondary libraries, and our experience (I work in CO for a school division) is that older kids do not use the library. The collection is a reflection of teacher/librarian taste, but of course, this does not explain the lack of interest. We have a community college library that is entirely virtual except for reference, and the on-line databases (ProQuest for example) are very popular. I know people who love their Kindles or Sony PRSs.

 

What would be the market for eBooks?

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cork_dork_mom
Posts: 172
Registered: ‎07-17-2009
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Re: Virtual Libraries

We have ebooks available through our library and quite a few people use them because they're too busy to make it in to the library. Also, now that teachers have found out about the ebooks they recommend them to their students when all of our hard copies are checked out. The ebook service we have has a lot of the classics available and not only do they have ebooks but they also have audio books, both can be checked out at no cost (no overdues either).
cork_dork_mom
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John_N
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-29-2009
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Re: Virtual Libraries

Thanks. Insightful. I try to provide opportunities for technologies that impact our learning culture. As I told our superintendent Monday, eBooks is not a matter of if but when, and in time electronic content management, as you spoke to in your earlier post, will become standard. We do see a number of obstacles, not the least of which is having a device on which to read electronic content. But obstacles are problems begging to be solved. I am aware, as no doubt you are as well, that imposing my value system on others will not serve the division or its students.

 

Our current position is to create a "conversation". We do have a handful of teachers that will no doubt sieze the idea of electronic content for their courses. Accessing this content is the big hurdle. Does you division provide laptops or readers to all students effected?

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cork_dork_mom
Posts: 172
Registered: ‎07-17-2009
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Re: Virtual Libraries

The obstacle of technology availability was foremost on my mind. Currently our library has public computers available to use in the library but we don't have laptops to make available. Also, the school does not have laptops for the students to take home (we do have a number of laptop carts that classes can check out but again, they're for school use only, they don't go home with the kids).

 

I've read recently a couple of school districts north of Dallas have provided laptops to their students. I'm not sure if they're for upperclassmen only or how they manage to maintain them. I can't begin to fathom the abuse that's heaped on those laptops.

 

This to me is the biggest hurdle of all this technology is the widening gulf between the have's & have not's. Getting 30 paperback copies of "Grapes of wrath" is a lot cheaper than 30 laptops to access the book online.

 

On a similar note I've heard that a lot of the textbooks are available online. Which I think is great because it saved my 14 yr. old from schlepping his math book home every time he had homework. But, again, what about the kids who don't have a computer and/or access to the internet?

 

This is sure a relavent topic & one that really concerns me with the kids that are in school.

cork_dork_mom