Lyndonville school embraces e-readers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Austin Buzard, a freshman at Lyndonville, cozies up with a Nook e-reader last week in the school library.

Buzard shows how the text is displayed on the Nook e-reader. Students can highlight text, and increase the font size.

LYNDONVILLE – When a popular book is borrowed at Lyndonville Central School’s library that used to mean the book would be off limits for another student for at least two weeks.

That could be be frustrating for students who were reading a series, a Harry Potter adventure or other Young Adult fiction.

“Gone With The Wind could be out for a month before I got it back,” said Bob Santella, the district librarian.

Lyndonville has embraced technology to drastically increase its supply of books, without needing more shelf space.

The school district about two years ago purchased 40 Nook e-readers. They have been so popular that Lyndonville now has 108 e-readers. Some include books that are required for classes, book such as Ayn Rand’s “The Anthem.”

“This is a medium that attracts the kids’ attention,” said Aaron Slack, the middle-high school principal.

The Nook e-readers hold numerous titles of books, allowing the school district to easily provide multiple copies of popular books.

Many school districts don’t have any e-readers or only a few. Lyndonville has used some of its state aid for hardware to buy the e-readers. They are loaned out just like any other book in the library.

None of the devices, which can hold hundreds of book titles, have been lost or damaged in nearly two years, a sign that students value the Nooks, Slack said.

Jason Smith, the superintendent at Lyndonville Central School, wants to promote reading among students at the district. He sensed some students might not want a thick book to read. Students may not like lugging around another book when their backpacks are already full.

He was having lunch with seventh- and eighth-graders about two years ago when he proposed adding Nooks to the library.

The students, who are well acquainted with Smart Phones and other technology, urged the district to give e-readers a try.

“This technology is no longer a gimmick,” Smith said.

Barnes and Noble gave the district a discount on the Nooks, selling them for $138 each, down from the usual price of $216.  The e-books are cheaper than buying printed copies.

The e-books also typically arrive within 15 minutes after they are ordered. The printed books can take six weeks to get shipped to the district.

“The kids are becoming very proficient,” said Santella, the librarian.

Lyndonville has embraced technology in the schools. This group of second-graders is working in the computer lab.

Some print books with several hundred pages can intimidate students, he said. With e-books, students just click on a cover image of the book. The e-readers each have a thesaurus and dictionary if students want to look up words. They can highlight text and make the type bigger. Lyndonville also has audio versions of some of the books.

Students are introduced to the e-readers in elementary school. Santella said many students are already comfortable with devices, even in the younger grades, when they first work on an e-reader.

“These kids are becoming very proficient with technology,” Santella said.