Searching for Online Books

I love my Kindle, just as I love my paper-bound books. Now, I am beginning to find a great deal of usefulness for the wealth of online books that are available. They come in various categories.

  1. Books in the public domain, published prior to 1924.
  2. Books that carry a Creative Commons license and are usually created in open document format (ODF) and/or converted to PDF.

Books in the public domain may be scanned by volunteers or paid workers who contribute a library’s collections to the online environment. These books with the older publication date provide a rich view of what has gone before. Some might even be required reading for assignments, and they are available for free for everyone in the class at the same time of access!

Books that carry a Creative Commons license are added to the online environment so that their contents reach many more readers than a print copy would. Much of the time, readers may print the entire book or only portions for their personal use. As long as a reader has a computer and Internet access, these books are available for learning.

Various ways to access both types of books are available. Probably the most well-known is Google Books. At Google Books, one may read reviews, view content (sometimes limited), view sellers of the book, and more. Using the Overview link, a reader is able to see what is available online concerning that particular book. Professional reviews as well as contributing reviews are helpful in the decision for reading the book. Common terms and phrases are included in a text cloud that helps to define the material contained within its contents. Surprisingly, a map is included to label the places that are mentioned in the book.

Personally, I am considering all of the possibilities for use when students read a book.

For Microsoft users, the Live Book Search has been canceled. An explanation may be found here.

Online services that require a fee are available for online books that may not fit into either of the categories I listed. The text of these e-books may indeed be under copyright at the time of access.

Some of the providers of e-books include:

SkillSoft’s Books24x7 – one of the more expensive services where you are able to download chapters (if  you are a corporate customer) in PDF. Most of the books are business, authoritative titles.

Questia – a much more affordable subscription-based service with e-books that cover a wide range of topics. I was an early adopter of Questia and found it a wonderful way to read and take notes on my reading. By clicking on the Education link, you are able to view all of the books included in the e-library on that topic.

ebrary – a service that requests a small registration fee to get you started. Then, when you find something you want to print/download, you pay per page.

Open Content Alliance (OCA) at the Internet Archives – this is the jackpot of e-books! Many contributed collections may be accessed from here.

Open Library – an online catalog for accessing all types of books, where you may select to buy, borrow, or browse.

The Global Text Project – provides you with three types of content: e-content, books that have been scanned, and links to online books that may be of interest.

Storytelling in the School Library

I think it is time that I revisit storytelling in the school library. Why? Storytelling has so much potential for reaching people. Yet, I stink at it unless I am telling a funny, rib-tickling story. Storytelling reaches across cultures. But, I only belong to one culture, really. However, storytelling helps people make connections between the storyteller’s tale and their own experiences. I am good at making connections!

Acceptable Use Policies

Having a good Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for Internet Use and enforcing it regularly are important for your school. In fact, according to Fitzer and Peterson (2002) you can have an AUP, enforce it, and not need a filter if you are using software that activates when violations occur to notify of the offense. (I would like to see this software in action!)

In a previous post, I expresses concern over privacy, authentication and access for library systems. For an AUP to work, the network must be able to identify who has access to the Internet. Should this extend to the library’s OPAC?

Data trails and clickstreams may be captured and saved for violators using the software that activates when the violation occurs. All other data trails and clickstreams would not need to be collected and saved.

What about the “ones that get away and don’t get caught?” That is where responsibility and diligence come in. The school community should not be ignorant of what is going on in their libraries or on their computers. The link provided above to Fitzer and Peterson’s article provides some excellent ideas to help the school community prepare, prevent, and handle violations of the AUP.

Common Themes of 2.0

I am attending the Internet@Schools West Conference and Internet Librarian 2008 Conference (Information Today) where the keynote speakers and the workshop presenters are sharing themes. These themes are crossing the boundaries of business and education. They are re-shaping the global society. Take a look at the following list to make a thoughtful decision for yourself if you are uncertain:

  • Blogs have the ability to be searched and mined for vital information, such as to provide answers and solutions
  • The “wisdom of crowds” has presence even if it is not always the correct strategy at the moment
  • The knowledge view is on “social;” i.e., knowledge sharing, where people participate, experts are located, ideas are debated and innovation is key.
  • We need less control over content in the way that content is defined or expressed so that the effort may be collaborative using 2.0, free shareware, that can be placed in a password, protected environment.
  • We should step back and ask, “How can I reach you?” and begin to reach out.
  • Have more forums for participation rather than complaint boxes.
  • Know that there are less people who are experienced in social networking and expect mistakes and to learn from them.

These themes are not new. They are becoming more of a lived reality that can become easily accessible if we allow and encourage them now. If we do not, someone else will. This is what i am hearing. Is this what you see?

What our future holds?

On TED, Kevin Kelly talks about the next 5,000 days of the Internet. He provides some interesting food for thought about how our lives will revolve around one machine. Breaking down how this machine compares to the human brain as far as power and functioning, Kelly’s sci fi predictions appear to be just around the corner. Take a look and listen for yourself:

Happy viewing!