The Hawaii State Department of Education, a statewide district serving 256 public and 34 charter schools across eight islands, was looking for an ebook and audiobook solution that pooled funds to maximize purchasing power and provide expanded reading opportunities.
“In most digital reading platforms we looked at, each school needed to purchase a copy of each title to share it across the state,” said Education Specialist Joanna Dunn. This model wasn’t feasible and did not meet the goal of sharing resources across the state.
The Hawaii schools found their answer with a shared ebook and audiobook collection from OverDrive Education. An OverDrive shared collection enables two or more schools to access digital content via a single website. Each member school contributes a set dollar amount based on school size – and all purchased titles become available to all participating institutions. Schools can even add ebooks and audiobooks specifically for their students and teachers, separate from the shared collection.
“We wanted to provide a user-friendly solution that best meets the needs of our students and staff for ebook and audiobook resources. Pooling our resources together helped provide a larger collection of ebooks and audiobooks that can be shared and utilized,” Dunn said. “Implementing a shared collection with OverDrive reduced the cost for a robust ebook solution for our schools.”
Hawaii isn’t alone in realizing the benefits of a shared collection. The state of Montana launched a statewide shared collection with 53 schools, and education departments in Pennsylvania, Utah, Minnesota and California are offering similar programs.
“With budgeting a major concern, schools are getting creative in their shift to digital. OverDrive is seeing more and more schools pooling funds to spend less per school and district to get digital content into the hands of their students,” OverDrive Education Director Herb Miller said. “Schools within a district or multiple schools and districts across a region, state or province are sharing their budgets to offer students access to a much larger collection of ebooks and audiobooks than they could have built on their own.”
For example, if a school were to initiate a digital collection on their own, they may only be able to afford 50-100 titles. If 100 schools join an OverDrive shared collection and each spends $250, then the combined group would total at least $25,000 to spend on ebooks and audiobooks for reading inside and outside the classroom, professional development resources for teachers, digital class sets and more. The collection grows—and accumulates over time—as more schools join.
“Shared collections help schools gain instant, easy access to ebooks that students need. Based on positive feedback and increases in reading and student engagement from schools across North America, OverDrive is implementing more shared collections across districts, regions, states and provinces,” Miller said.
“Extremely easy to use”
Hawaii’s shared collection now serves elementary, middle and high schools with more than 11,500 ebooks and audiobooks, including read-alongs, that can be enjoyed on all major devices. More than 134,000 titles have been borrowed through the “extremely easy to use” website in just three years.
A key to the success of Hawaii’s shared collection has been the elimination of common hurdles to maximizing usage—and return on investment—that come with administering multiple platforms, such as account management and training.
“Having our ebooks all on one platform has enabled consistent practice and more efficient training across schools in accessing and using ebooks for teachers, administrators, students and parents,” Dunn said. “Since the authentication to OverDrive is managed through our centralized library system, the account creation and management barrier has been removed. Librarians can focus on teaching and learning.”
The Hawaii schools have also benefited from collection development support from OverDrive staff librarians.
“Participating schools make ebook and audiobook title suggestions based on collective need and feedback. In the shared collection, ebooks and audiobooks are filtered by grade level to ensure the right titles are reaching the right students. This ensures students can find a title they are interested in,” said OverDrive Content Specialist Bailey Hotujac.
Looking forward, the Hawaii schools are confident in the continued success of their shared collection. “Our OverDrive shared collection has met all of the goals that we set to accomplish,” she said. “It has expanded the library resources beyond the walls of the library to provide 24/7 access to books even when the physical library is closed.”