New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Commentary

The E-book Literacy Program

I am excited to share that we are a participant in an exciting and interesting pilot project and will be adding many new e-book titles to our downloadable collection for our library users. But I am way ahead of myself, so let me start at the beginning.

We are one of the recipients of a very generous grant from the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain and the Christine E. Moser Foundation. The organizations have awarded $90,200 to the new Coalition to Enhance Family Literacy, a collaboration of Family Resource Centers (FRCs) and public libraries in New Britain, Plainville and Southington, the Plainville Adult Education program and Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut.

This funding will gives us a wonderful opportunity to promote family literacy using 21st century technology of e-readers, apps and e-books and getting this technology to those who might not otherwise have any access. We hope to see an increase in family reading as well as parents modeling good reading behavior to their children.

Research is showing promising results in the U.S. E-readers appear to promote good reading habits. E-book users tend to read more often than people who read only print materials. School librarians have seen an increase of recreational reading in students with e-readers. They have potential to entice reluctant readers to read more. They also appear to be narrowing the gap in how men and women read. Interestingly, among e-book buyers, 52 percent were men compared with 48 percent for women—a reversal of print books, where women buy more. But it’s all in its early stages. It will be interesting to see what future results show.

Participants of the Family Resource Centers and Adult Education programs (parents, grandparents and care givers) have the use of a Kindle loaded with a basic library of e-books and apps appropriate for children and adults. They will report on what they read and how much time they spent reading during the week. Their progress will be measured and compared at the start and at the end.

How does this grant benefit the library? In addition to working with organizations to promote family literacy, we will receive $16,000 to purchase e-books for the library’s downloadable collection. Librarians are purchasing additional e-books which will be available for loan to program participants and to all our library card holders. We will be able to add items to our downloadable collection which we don’t have the money in our budget to do. The focus of the collection has been comprised mostly of adult fiction and popular non-fiction titles. Our budget just can’t provide much more. Now with this funding, we will be able to add a wider variety of materials. We are adding many children and young adult titles, self-help, ESL, test preparation, career and family friendly books along with popular titles for the adults.

Interested in finding out more about our downloadable collection? Check it out online, from our web page (www.nbpl.info) or stop in and let one of our librarians walk you through.