It’s elementary, my dear: E-readers make debut at Pelican Marsh

Students at local schools are on waiting lists. Not for admission to college, but for e-readers at the school library.

E-readers recently arrived to Pelican Marsh Elementary School, where students in third through fifth grades are checking out e-books via parental sign ups and lots of patience, as only seven Nooks are available for check out.

“They check it out for a week, and the battery only lasts a week, so it works out very well,” said Gail Ellis, the school’s media specialist. “Instead of checking out 15 books at a time, we have all 15 (available) books downloaded on the Nook.”

Scrolling through the Nook at the school library, fourth grader Tag Mariotti chose his favorite story with his friends.

“What I like about it is it’s portable, as compared to carrying a bunch of books,” he said.

Rhonda Bell, a parent, agreed, saying “They’re great. They don’t have to carry so many books anymore. It opens up so many avenues for them. You can even change the reading font to what your kids want.”

The only drawback so far, is lack of color on the screens does not provide colorful illustrations for students in lower grades.

“There’s not as much to choose from for the Nook. They can’t get a lot of pictures. I’m sure they’re going to expand that to eventually get more color on the pages,” Ellis said.

“Can you disable the Sudoku?” teacher Segal Sanchez asked Ellis, as students found games on the Nook fascinating. Overall, Sanchez noted her students were motivated to read more when they used the e-readers.

Updating the Nook with new files happens automatically as students return it to the library via a Wi-Fi network.

“My concern is if anyone lost it, but it has been returned every time. It’s so popular. The response has been overwhelming. It’s extremely positive,” said Ellis.

Pelican Marsh is the first elementary school in Collier County to order e-readers for check out, but more schools may follow suit after funds come in from from book fairs.

“We haven’t ordered any yet, but we may in the future after the book fair,” said Margie Cox, library specialist at Veterans Memorial Elementary School. “It has to fit within our budget.”

Marilyn Mathis, director of the Collier County Public Library System, is currently exploring possibilities of adding e-readers to the public library collection as well.

“We’re looking into it over the summer, and we’ll do it in the fall if we decide to do it,” Mathis said.

Differences in both Kindles and Nooks will be considered prior to making the change at Collier County public libraries.

“With Kindle, you can’t easily download books, and Amazon is working to make a change to this. So we’re exploring the possibility of checking out Nooks,” she said.

In seeking to streamline opportunities for students to access material via e-rreaders, House Bill 310 was introduced in New Mexico. “The legislation is signed, and requires publishers to offer their textbooks in an e-reader format by 2013 to 2014,” said Scott Hammond, a representative from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the nation’s largest education publisher, with offices based in Orlando, Austin, Texas, and Chicago.

“This is the first year we’ve had it in New Mexico — on the market, and school districts are embracing it here. E-books make sense, especially with literature and anthology collections as they are already public domain,” said Hammond, as he often utilizes e-readers for his presentations in New Mexico. “This is all new stuff that is definitely dynamic as school districts can look at formats of files to download.”

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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