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FHS Library utilizes eBooks

Anyone who remembers high school research papers knows how frustrating it can be to have to try and use the same reference materials that 300 other people need at the same time.

Farragut High School Library has found a way to help combat this frustration … Electronic Books.

Last year, after the most sought after reference book in the library was checked out and not returned on time, librarian Barbara James decided enough was enough.

“The first [eBook] we bought was a reference set on Shakespeare. It is a four-volume set that we have in paper that is mainly used by the students in the 10th-grade honors English class,” James said.

“They all pick a comedy to analyze and Volume Two held the comedies. They didn’t have much use for the rest of the set but they all were lined up for Volume Two.

“We checked it out one time at the end of the day like we always do and it didn’t come back in the morning and a lot of people were inconvenienced. The head of the department came in and she told me I wasn’t allowed to circulate Volume Two anymore. So I looked into buying another Volume Two and you couldn’t buy pieces of the set,” she added.

The PTSO stepped in and bought the eBook.

Since that time James has added two more sets using County issued library finds.

“We have access to a good many through the Tennessee Electronic library, and those are not ones we pay for. The ones that we pay for are located underneath the databases on our Web page. At this time there are two titles on there. They are both reference sets and that is what we intend to pursue in the near future — the types of reference books the kids need for assignments,” James said.

These eBooks can be accessed by an unlimited number of students, either from library computers or at home, making research much easier. Students simply log onto the FHS Web page and access the books from the library database. All they need is a password, which the library provides.

“The kids really like it and then there is not so much tussling over volumes and photocopying. We have had volumes go missing before, they are hiding them because they need to come back and get it at 3:30 and they do not want somebody else to come back and get it at 3:30, so this way it is just open access to all,” James said.

“I think it is probably the way that we are trending. I don’t see us buying fiction that way, but I see it as an informational resource, when they need to dip into something and pick out a certain amount of information,” she added.

FHS junior Richard Jeffords said the books were invaluable to him during 10th-grade honors English.

“I probably would have failed my research paper without it last year. I missed a day and so it really helped me to catch up a lot. I got to come in [and it was always available] and I could do it at home,” he added.

Jeffords said knowing he will have unlimited access to the reference materials makes the process less frustrating.

“As many people can access it on the internet as want to. If you just have the books in print … you have a whole class trying to access the same book. It takes a lot longer,” he added.

James is very selective with the eBooks she purchases; keeping in mind she must be a good steward of the funds issued by Knox County.

“The ones we bought [up]to this time are sets that we have in paper. So we know that they work, and we know the reason we are buying them is because we want more students to be able to access them,” she said.

“[The price] depends a little bit on the publisher. The main publisher that we deal with, Gale, charges ten percent more than the title on your self. And then you have to pay a hosting fee every year, so you can have up to ten titles per year for $50. But they cut you a deal … if you already have the title in print you only pay 50 percent. And if you buy them at the same time, you get some substantial discount on either the eBook or the paper copy.”

So far the books have been widely used.

“We get usage statistics for the eBooks so we can tell when something is being used and when it is not being used,” James said.

“I think for reference sources it is the way of the future.”


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