Teaching My First eReader Class

March 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm (eBooks, Libraries, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So, here it is.  It has been almost a week since I taught my first class on eReaders and how did it go?  I think it was a success.  I had 31 eager patrons show up.  Some were there with their devices in hand, ready to learn to how to sideload from their laptop to their eReader.  Others where there simply to learn and see what the devices look like.  In the surveys I got back, there was a lot of positive feedback, so I thought I would share what I learned in case you may consider teaching an eReader class at your library, which I personally think you should.

1.  Learn about the ins-and-outs of the service first.  I know this is an obvious route, but there are so many various scenarios that could, and probably will occur, that you really need to know what your eBooks can and cannot do. We use Overdrive and there are many ways you can, or should not, search for an eBook.  Advanced search is one of my favorite tips.  You can limit your search results to format, in my case ePub, and  only show available titles.  This is a great time-saving feature.  It it so much nicer than scrolling through titles that are all checked out.  I would also like to mention that you can also customize the “My Digital Account” tab.  Once you are logged in to your account you can default your borrowing periods for eBooks and audiobooks.  It’s just another time-saver.

2.  Learn eReading devices.  I know that this may not always be the most feasible option.  In a period where so many libraries are faced with significant budget cuts and staff layoffs, it is impossible for every library to purchase various types of eReaders.  Yet, there is always a chance to learn.  I know friends and family members who have eReading devices and I have borrowed them in order to familiarize myself with how Overdrive will work with them.  I have learned a lot from patrons who have brought their devices to my desk.  There are also many blogs out there.  I have found them to be invaluable resources, especially when it comes to trouble-shooting a specific device.  Maybe you cannot get your hands on one, but there are plenty of blogs out there to help you understand how eReaders work.

3.  Realize that all eReaders are not made the same.  In fact, in my experience with Apples and Andorid products, Sony eReaders, and the Nook or Nook Color is that each device works differently.  I stress that they are very unlike one another. There are enough differences between each product that it can be problematic in trying to setup Overdrive with a specific device and the proper format.

4.  Remember that your audience may not have any idea what you are talking about.  For instance, the differences between a pdf, ePub, and Mobipocket formats.  I have also encountered patrons who are very uncomfortable in downloading Overdrive’s software.  You really have to walk them through it.  I sometimes feel like I am talking to someone who faced with their most deathly fear.  I just let them know, ” It is going to be okay.  Things will work out. Breathe.  I will get you an eBook on your device. We can do this.”

So the lessons I guess I m trying to convey go beyond knowing your service and how various eReaders or mobile devices work.  It is also about remembering your audience is probably listening to you because they are very inexperienced in how to navigate themselves in the eBook world. Give out handouts with lots of screenshots.  Here is the link to what I usually distribute to our patrons. Be prepared to answer questions on, “What is the difference between a pdf and an ePub?” (Answer:  re-flowable text).  Have a lot of patience.  Be ready to answer the same questions over and over again.  Stay up-to-date with the latest eReader trends.  Remember that your audience, or patron, may be inexperienced, and yes also scared, of downloading software and eBooks.  He or she may freak out on you at various times, but remember to consider yourself the friendly host to the ever-changing world of technology and that you are there to help patrons find their way to the eBooks they would like to read.



  1. lybrarian said,

    Thank you for sharing – we are struggling with how to prepare our librarians to give this kind of training. For now, we cart the tech toy box with several different eReaders to their staff meeting for show and tell.

  2. How do you personally keep current with technology? « lybrarian said,

    […] This just crossed my desk re: eBook and eReader training and I want to share before I forget.  I’m an e-brarian’s blog about “Teaching my first eReader class.” […]

  3. Teaching My First eReader Class « I'm an e-Librarian | adobe ebook reader said,

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  4. Kyle Thomas said,

    You mentioned blogs about ereader devices. Which are your favs? Many thanks.

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