Over the summer, all MCPS librarians gathered for a back-to-school meeting to discuss changes in the county. The stereotypically shushing and strict staff soon burst out cheering. What could make the librarians so elated? OverDrive, of course.
This year, MCPS made OverDrive available to all of its schools. OverDrive is a virtual library through which MCPS staff and students can borrow e-books and audiobooks.
It opens up new possibilities such as borrowing books from the school library without having to physically be there. The online books can also be highlighted and bookmarked, and upon checking out a nook the second time, a user’s own markings will reappear to them. There is also an OverDrive app which allows students to read whenever they have their phones. Referring to days when e-books weren’t available and audiobooks required a DVD or other specialized player, Burk said, “It’s not one more extra thing. It just goes with everything that’s already there.”
However, not all students are not keen on utilizing this new tool. “I plan on trying it but I haven’t got the opportunity to go online yet,” freshman Irene Wang said.
She reads between classes because at home she gets distracted by homework and electronics. Students may be too busy to learn a new way to read when they already are used to a different method.
Senior Izoduwa Aimiuwu reads on her phone every day on the way home from school on the bus, but she isn’t even considering using OverDrive because of another issue. “I’m all for e-books but I feel like their selection might be too limited,” Aimiuwu said.
It’s true that the library has a limited selection, and that the public library system has OverDrive with a larger selection. Aimuwu also pointed out that there are free e-books online that may not be mainstream, but are still interesting.
Although this could be cause for concern, media specialist Tammie Burk said that a large selection is not the primary goal of OverDrive for MCPS. The goal is to spread the ability to read and utilize Media Center resources. “If you look at it from a literacy standpoint, it’s a very smart thing to do because you’re putting books in hands of students anytime, anywhere. You get the same access to these materials that you would if you were able to come into the library.”
Additionally, the Media Center applied for OverDrive funding last year, so this school does have a larger selection than most other schools in the county.
Access to the resources in the Media Center is increased through OverDrive. Over the summer, the library was only open three days a week, but OverDrive is always open, so students can access books during the weekend, holidays, and summer through the website or the app on their phone. “It’s not one more extra thing. It just goes with everything that’s already there,” Burk said. “That way you always have reading at your fingertips.”